I am not a fan of electric pencil sharpeners. I don’t like the idea of having to spend the money replacing batteries. Over the years, we’ve tried a number of manual pencil sharpeners with disappointing results. They “ate” the pencils, broke the lead before getting it anywhere near a point, sharpened unevenly, dulled quickly, and/or generally caused frustration.
My search is finally over with the discovery of the Westcott iPoint Model #15088. The Westcott 15088 boasts titanium blades, a vacuum mount (as well as a screw mount option), see-through shavings holder, and a multi-pencil dial. At just under $40 at Amazon.com (as of this writing), it’s reasonably priced, too.
In our house wall space is a premium (covered, of course, by book shelves, timelines, and an assortment of school projects), so the vacuum mount was very appealing. But, I was skeptical; I’ve had mostly bad experiences with vacuum-mounted appliances. So, the vacuum mount was the first thing I tested. First, I attached it to a window. It worked great. I sharpened a dozen pencils with absolutely no slippage. Next, I decided to try the wood tabletop. It worked there as well.
So far, so good. The next test was how well it sharpened pencils. Some of the reviews reported that it sharpens off-center; this definitely would be a show-stopper. The first pencil I sharpened was off-center. I tried a second. Off-center. By now, I was contemplating sending it back, but decided to troubleshoot it before going through the hassle of boxing it up. I’m very glad I did.
The key seems to be the direction of pressure put on the pencil while holding it. I discovered that when I sharpen a pencil, I put a slight side-to-side pressure on the pencil, pulling it toward me. This misaligned the pencil in the sharpener. Pencils are sharpened “on-center” if there is no side-to-side pressure (i.e. the only pressure on the pencil is straight in) or any side-to-side pressure on the pencil is toward the vacuum mount. Side-to-side pressure in any other direction causes it to sharpen off-center. This will take a little getting used to, but it is definitely do-able.
Removal of the shavings holder is straightforward if not easy. Reattachment is a bit more challenging. Getting the slots and tabs realigned required some work, but with a bit of practice, I think it’ll become easier.
Lastly, the quality of the pencil point is outstanding. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a properly sharpened pencil. I went around the house collecting pencils just so I could sharpen them. I’m so excited about finally finding our last pencil sharpener, I may mention it in our Christmas letter! (OK, maybe not.)