Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review of the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

A few months ago, the owner of Classroom Friendly Supplies contacted me and asked if I would review their pencil sharpener.  Any pastellist who uses pastel pencils knows that a good sharpener is hard to find.  Pastel inevitably breaks off and clogs the sharpener.  Always on the lookout for a great sharpener, I was very happy to have the opportunity to try it.  
The last time I reviewed a sharpener, I was impressed at first, but soon disappointed (see the review).  This time, I wanted to use the sharpener consistently for a few months to be able to give a better assessment of how the sharpener performs over time.  Since any new sharpener I try must compete with my Creative Mark Multi-Point for favorite sharpener status, I’ll be comparing it to the Multi-point in this review.
Overall, I like this sharpener.  Right out of the box, what impressed me was its style.  It is slightly more compact (and slightly heavier) than the Multi-Point, sort of retro looking, and has a metal body (the Multi-Point has a plastic body).  It’s a sturdy sharpener.  Like the Multi-Point, the Classroom Friendly Sharpener comes with a clamp.  This clamp works better than the Multi-Point’s but it didn’t take me long before I abandoned it.  It’s just unnecessary.  (I’d still like one with suction feet, but no one seems to make them that way.)  

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Other than the metal body, this sharpener is very similar to the Multi-Point, so I was particularly interested to see how it would compare to my favorite sharpener.  I fed it a pastel pencil and turned the crank - wow, did I get an amazingly sharp point!  It has an automatic stop, like the Multi-Point, but it was quite a while before I noticed it.  The feel of the automatic stop is more subtle than the Multi-Point, and a little bit of pressure on the feeding mechanism will allow it to keep sharpening.  This is good if you want a super sharp tip, but if you’re not careful it will eat the pastel pencil.  

Check out these super sharp tips!

Like the Multi-Point, this sharpener leaves bite marks on the pastel pencils (this doesn't bother me in the least, but if it concerns you, don't buy either sharpener). 

How does this sharpener hold up over time?  Pretty well.  I’ve found it takes more pressure for it to get a sharp point now than it used to, but it will still give great results.  It also breaks off the tip more often than it used to, but that is similar to the Multi-Point.  It seems like I get great results at the beginning, by three months it’s starting to get frustrating, and (assuming the Classroom Sharpener keeps wearing similar to the Multi-Point) I’ll need to replace it by six months.  
What happens when the pastel gets stuck in the sharpener?  This is the one area where the Multi-Point compares more favorably.  Most of the time, it’s fairly simple to poke out the stuck pastel.  Once in a while, it’s almost impossible.  The first time that happened was maybe a month in, and I couldn’t get the pastel out at all.  I pulled out the shavings receptacle and poked around to no avail.  I shoved a metal BBQ skewer in and poked, but it felt like I was hitting metal.  It was confusing and frustrating.  I finally gave up and set the sharpener aside, thinking it was unusable.  A few days later I missed the super sharp point, so I started poking around in it again.  I was able to poke an unbent paper clip inside along the grooves repeatedly until the pastel came loose.  I don’t know why it sticks in there so stubbornly sometimes, but it does.  It’s happened to me a handful of times, and if there is one thing that would discourage me from buying this sharpener, that would be it.
How do the sharpeners compare on price?  The Classroom Friendly Sharpener is $19.95 with free shipping.  The Creative Mark Multi-Point is $27.99 at Jerry’s Artarama, but you can often find it on sale (last time I paid $12.99, which was awesome, but typically it’s over $20).
So what’s the verdict?  Did the Classroom Friendly Sharpener replace the Multi-Point as my favorite sharpener?  I love the super sharp tip possible with the Classroom Friendly Sharpener, but I have to factor in the occasional frustration of not being able to get the pastel out.  As long as the blades stay sharp and I can get that super sharp tip, it’s definitely worth having the Classroom Friendly Sharpener around.  When this one wears out, I’ll buy another, but I’m not going to give up my Multi-Point.  I'll need it for backup when the pastel refuses to come out of the Classroom Friendly Sharpener.  If the Classroom Friendly Sharpener came unclogged as easily as the Multi-Point, it would definitely be my new favorite.  
You can buy the Classroom Friendly Sharpener here.
One caution for Conté pastel pencil users:  the Classroom Friendly Sharpener won’t sharpen the Contés.  If Conté is your brand, stick with the Multi-Point.


Amanda Makepeace said...

You're in the EBSQ Friday Five.

Annie said...

I saw your review on EBSQ. I'm very glad you reviewed these because I'm always on the lookout for a good sharpener, so I'm going to buy one. Right now I'm using the small hand-held sharpeners because they eat less of the lead, but I want to try this one too.

Kari Tirrell said...

Thanks, Amanda! :)

Thank you, Annie - I'm glad you found it helpful. I hate using hand held sharpeners, but you're right, they do eat less of the pastel. I hope it works great for you!

hmuxo said...

thanks for the info on the sharpener. I'm always looking for that "perfect sharpener".

Kari Tirrell said...

I am, too, Hilda. I've got another one to try, whenever I can get over to a staples and buy one. Maybe that will be the perfect one. Until then, the search continues... :)