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I have a carpenter's pencil that's getting pretty blunt and I've realised I don't know how to sharpen it.

How can I sharpen it without buying a special dedicated tool for it?

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5  
Sure you use the sharpener most carpenters have - a utility knife –  Gunner Jun 23 '12 at 4:20
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Home depot sells a pack of pencils and a sharpener for maybe 2 dollars? Why waste your time? –  whatsisname Jun 24 '12 at 4:36
    
@gunner a utility knife? There's no fun in that! For proper pencil sharpening, you want yourself a nice professional power grinder! –  DA01 Jun 25 '12 at 16:54
    
I usually use what I have at hand, be it a chisel, brick, sidewalk. I too have tried a beaver, but they eat the rest of the pencils. :-) –  Gunner Jun 25 '12 at 22:13
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How is this a real question? How do you sharpen a pencil, seriously? –  iambriansreed Jun 26 '12 at 18:23
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5 Answers 5

Whatever you have handy. There are many tools that would work, besides a pencil sharpener dedicated to this.

  • A pocket or utility knife - cut away from you of course.
  • A sliding, compound miter saw (overkill, but it will work well enough.)
  • A belt sander
  • A band saw
  • A drum sander in your drill press (or an oscillating drum sander if you have one in the shop.)

The point is, a carpenter's pencil is mainly wood, and can be shaped by any tools you have in reach that can also shape wood.

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+1 for having an excuse to buy a sliding, compound miter saw –  tegbains Jun 24 '12 at 5:34
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A pencil is pretty small, I'd definitely upgrade the miter saw to include the laser guides. –  DA01 Jun 25 '12 at 16:55
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These are all good answers. I chose to take a different approach, however, and have managed to train a beaver to do all my pencil sharpening for me. Alas, I found out beavers like to chew things and now have to order pencils by the case on an almost daily basis to keep him busy. –  DA01 Jun 25 '12 at 16:56
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I took that advice, and went out and bought a beaver. Sadly, the beaver soon got bored with pencils. Then he started "sharpening" the legs on our chairs, all the trees around our house, the posts for our deck, even a neighbors wooden leg. Does anyone know where I can find a mountain lion so I can get rid of the beaver? –  user558 Jun 25 '12 at 17:34
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I have a 24 pound cat with an attitude if you can't find a lion. She (Rosie) rents out at reasonable rates. –  shirlock homes Jun 26 '12 at 10:52
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The perfect tool is sitting right there on your tool shelf - your hand plane. Hold it upside down in your nondominant hand and slide the pencil across the blade with your dominant hand. Be careful!

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Use a knife. One of these should always be in your belt:

knife

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For carpenters, it would likely be a utility knife, but close enough. Just cut from the wood away from you to the lead point. –  BMitch Jun 23 '12 at 12:33
    
plus vote for a simple utility knife. A simple plastic carpenter's pencil sharpener is only a few bucks, but I lose them! So back to the knife. –  shirlock homes Jun 24 '12 at 22:28
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Keson makes a carpenters pencil sharpener that puts a chisel point on the lead. The only way to sharpen a carpenters pencil is to a chisel point. Available at Northern Tool.

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I sharpen mine with a pocket knife. I leave about 1/4" of lead showing, then I bevel the tip of the lead to a chisel point, that way I can get a clean crisp line. You can use sandpaper to get a chisel point, but I just use my knife most of the time.

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