That’s right. We’re one of THOSE families.
When we pull up to Chic Fil A, we disgorge from our minivan like it’s a nauseated clown car. You get the picture.
Like many homeschooling families, we have converted one of the rooms in our house into a makeshift classroom. In our case, it is the room that would otherwise be designated the laundry room. We put the washer and dryer in the garage (which I prefer anyways), and have decorated the space with maps of the world continents, posters explaining the various rules of English grammar, shelves with learning logs and curriculum, the computer, and a long table with a long bench.
As a homeschooling family, we are a pretty much on our own with purchasing our school supplies. That means we have to secure our own printing paper, pencils, pens, erasers, staplers, paper clips, scissors and so forth when the 99 Cent Store, Staples, or Big Lots has a clearance sale.
In our homeschooling world, pencils, both the trusted Ticonderoga and the artsy colored ones, are a necessity. That means we have to have a reliable pencil sharpener.
A number of years ago, my wife secured a nice electric sharpener. It was the mainstay of our makeshift classrooms for several years surviving across two major house moves. Then one day a few weeks ago, I come home and my wife says to me, “We need a new pencil sharpener.” I asked why, and she begins explaining how the electric pencil sharpener isn’t sharpening the pencils but chewing them up like a wood chipper. One of my kids listening to our conversation quickly demonstrated what my wife was talking about and I cringed as I heard the pencil grind to splinters. He produced before me a gnawed wooden stump with a graphite lead sticking out of it.
So then a day or so later, my wife was searching the web for replacement sharpeners and found a link on Facebook to a website called, Classroom Friendly Supplies. The owner claimed he sold the “Best Pencil Sharpener in the World!” We both thought, “really? what’s so great about a pencil sharpener?” I mean, I once drove through New Mexico where this truck stop claimed to sell the “world’s greatest fudge!” and I can tell you that after eating some, I doubted seriously there was a Sherpa in Nepal wishing he had some of that fudge from that truck stop in New Mexico.
At any rate, as my wife browsed the website, she discovered that the owner/creator of the best pencil sharpener in the world offers to send one free to anyone who had a blog with over a 100 followers and who agreed to give some free advertising in the form of a review article with links on social media. I have close to 400 followers and I am an active participant on social media as is my wife, so I thought, why not; I’ll be happy to do a review. I filled out the necessary information, got accepted, and within a week or so, we had our new sharpener to play with.
To begin, the sharpener is constructed from a sturdy, metal case. The one thing I appreciated about these sharpeners is that they come in at least 6 colors: black, blue, red, purple, pink, and green, and not just the typical polished tinfoil. I wish they had orange and even banana yellow, but hey, the choices you do have are nice anyways.
My wife wanted the red one.
There is a clear plastic box that holds the pencil grounds that slides easily in and out of the metal casing of the sharpener. I really appreciated that design because I don’t have to twist the cover off like with the standard sharpeners thus risk dumping pencil grounds onto the floor and creating a cloud of graphite particles that get all over my hands and clothes.
The only real drawback with that easy to remove and dump design is that the box could get “lost” in the trash can or even broken if there is not care taken when cleaning it out. But, the website offers replacements for just that scenario.
There is a L-shaped fastener included that holds the sharpener to the edge of a table. One end inserts into a hole in the case and then the sharpener is held down to the edge of the desk by tightening a plastic clamp with a wingnut.
This is probably the one con we have with the sharpener, because the clamp can slip and you have to fidget with the sharpener and clamp to line it up properly. My wife’s immediate thought was that rather than being round, the L should be a hexagram or square shape that fit into a corresponding shaped hole so that the case won’t slip around. I thought maybe a two-pronged, Y-shape that fit into two holes instead of one; but I am not an engineer. I can only imagine that this was discussed during the initial design phase for the prototype sharpener.
The website does make available a permanent mount plate if you plan to keep your sharpener in one specific location. It looks to be easily installed if you go with that option.
Now what makes this particular sharpener different from your general school room sharpener is the sharpening mechanism. All of my kids that this was the absolute awesomest part of the sharpener. We are use to shoving the pencil in the sharpening hole, holding it steady and straight while cranking the handle, and pulling it out every few turns to check if it has reached its desired sharpness.
With this sharpener, you pull out the silver front plate until it locks in place, pinch the two knobs on top, insert the pencil into the sharpening hole, release the knobs so that now the pencil is held into place, and without holding or pushing the pencil, turn the handle clockwise and the plate pulls the pencil into the sharpener. Once the cranking of the handle spins freely, the pencil is sharpened. Just pinch the knobs holding the pencil and pull it out.
Instructions and video presentations are available at the website if you are interested in seeing the sharpener in action.
There could be a little bit of a learning curve with this sharpener. Again, it is not your average sharpener we are all familiar with, but the point on the pencil was fantastic. I wouldn’t say it is the world’s best, but it was certainly a nice sharpening. And you get that with every pencil.
A good, sharp blade is key to getting a nice, crisp pointed pencil and the cool thing about School Friendly Supplies is that replacement blades are available for sale. That means that rather than tossing your sharpener and having to by a new one, you can just get the blade, follow the instructions for replacement and have what amounts to a brand new sharpener. I appreciated that option, because it shows me the designer cares about not only the product, but the folks who purchase them. The sharpener is not meant to be a disposable cheap tool, but something built with a bit of quality and concern with how it is used.
So. If you are homeschooling parent, Sunday school teacher, public school teacher, or even some non-educational individual, like an architect who needs a good pencil sharpener, I’d recommend checking out School Friendly Supplies and their superb sharpeners.