sharpener


Pollux 6

Möbius+Ruppert Pollux

You might remember Lexikaliker’s blog post about Möbius+Ruppert’s new sharpeners Castor and Pollux. Well, thanks to Lexikalier’s generosity I got my hand on half of these geminis, I even got the more interesting half: the Pollux, a brass sharpener that’s producing a concave tip.

Möbius+Ruppert Pollux

Lexikaliker has already covered all important points in his blog post about the Pollux, so I’ll keep it short and will just add a few of my impressions.

A pencil point before the blade treatment

A pencil point before the blade treatment

Out of the box the sharpener did sharpen well, but it was tearing/ripping the wood more than it should. Strangely enough the graphite point was cut very well, so I am not sure what exactly caused this behaviour that only affects the wood, not the graphite part.

You can see what exactly happened in this video:

 

 

 

A pencil point after the blade treatment

A pencil point after the blade treatment

I tried fixing it by sharpening the blade, first on a Belgian whetstone. You might have seen this stone in my videos about the Little Shaver. Unfortunately it wasn’t abrasive enough or I didn’t try long enough. I then tried my luck with Spyderco’s Sharpmaker and I got great results. After soe work on the blade the Pollux sharpened like a dream. Before working on the blade it produced shavings with holes in it, because the wood was torn. The shavings themselves had a thickness of around 0.25mm. After my blade treatment the shavings were thinner, 0.15mm thin – very thin.

Here’s a video I made after I worked on the blade:

Noris shavings from the Pollux

Noris shavings from the Pollux

Like Lexikaliker I measured an angle of around 18.5° for the pencil points produced by the Pollux.

The case drom my DUX DX4322 is a great fit for the Pollux

The case from my DUX DX4322 is a great fit for the Pollux

I have added the Pollux to my list of sharpeners.


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Please open the videos in Youtube to watch them in 4K.


Lee Valley’s Little Shaver 5

Introduction

I recently bought Lee Valley’s Little Shaver. According to their website the sharpner this replica is based on

was patented by Edward L. McDivitt of Belvidere, Illinois, in 1904. Sold until 1910 under various names including “The Handy Sharpener” and “Little Shaver”, it was offered for a price of $1.00 U.S. ($1.25 for a nickel-plated version); replacement blades were available for 25 cents. (Lee Valley web site)

If you have come across this sharpener before it was most likely in How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees (p. 103), but it also mentioned very briefly in episode six of the Erasable podcast. My interest in this sharpener got reignited when Sola mentioned it recently. My wife was kind enough to buy me this sharpener for my birthday.

Price

The official price is just under 50 Canadian Dollars, but unfortunately we chose the UPS delivery and I have to tell you, UPS is not exactly modest when it comes to fees. UPS shipping was about half the price of the sharpener, which is fine, but they made a really nice profit when they charged for handling customs clearance, plus they only take cash and don’t provide a receipt(!). It all felt quite dodgy (with no receipt), but otherwise they would have kept the parcel with the sharpener, which got really expensive by now. In the end, including all other costs, I paid quite a bit more than £70 (~$100; €100).

Lee Valley's Little Shaver

Build Quality

The sharpener feels built like a tank. It is quite heavy and as far as I can judge it is very well made. Lee Valley described it as “cast steel with a black gloss powder-coated finish”. Lee Valley started offering the Little Shaver Pencil Sharpener in 2011

Lee Valley's Little Shaver

How to sharpen

To sharpen a pencil you place your pencil in the support notch and move the hinged lever arm, similar to sharpening with a knife, to shave wood off. The lever arm is constructed in such a way that the blade cannot cut into the cast steel by mistake, as it will slide along what I can only describe as a sledge, the sledge will ensure you always keep the minimum distance from the cast steel. You then rotate the pencil, I think the official recommendation is you rotate it by 1/8 and repeat this step.

Not easy to use

To be honest, I’m not the most skilful person on the planet, but I am not exactly dexterously challenged either. I have no problems sharpening a pencil with a knife in a few seconds, producing a fairly nice point, but I really struggled with the Little Shaver. By now, several butchered pencils later, I achieve better results, but I still find sharpening with a good knife easier.

Problems

I think my problems stem from three different sources.

  1. The blade either wasn’t anywhere near as sharp as a knife’s blade or this saver’s blade got dull very fast
  2. Pencils don’t stay in place in the support notch. When you try to shave wood off with the blade the pencil will be pushed forward which means the newly created point will be shaved off next time you use the blade. Instead of sharpening the pencil from all sides towards one point every move of the blade will shorten the pencil and create a new point further down
  3. You might very well think that the sledge is there to keep the blade at the correct distance, when you sharpen the pencil, but it is (probably) only there to prevent you from ramming the blade into the cast steel support notch. You have to keep the right distance for optimal sharpening yourself.

Solutions?

The first problem can be fixed by sharpening the blade.

To prevent the pencil from moving forward, which was the second problem I listed, you can grip it very tight near the border of the sharpener. This will help to stop it moving forward. If you have a very sharp blade and don’t take too much wood off in one go it should be possible to hold the pencil in the right place and to prevent it from moving forward1.

I guess dealing with the last problem requires some practice. Somehow I find it not that easy to keep the correct distance with the Little Shaver’s blade, even though I have no problems doing something similar with a knife. Based on other reviews of the Little Shaver I would say it can’t be too difficult, but then, if you think of buying the Little Shaver, keep in mind that these reviews are by people whose hobby is woodworking.

Conclusion

It’s one of the most interesting and unusual sharpeners that is still being produced today. As this is not a mass produced product the price can’t be very cheap, but there are much more expensive sharpeners out there, e.g. from Cara d’Ache, El Casco or Graf von Faber-Castell. I think I’d definitely buy one again if it wasn’T for all the fees associated with importing goods into Europe.

What Lee Valley say in their YouTube video is certainly true: this sharpener has nothing to do with efficiency and more to do with fun and nostalgia. It is fun to use and there’s also the challenge of trying to produce a better and better point using the Little Shaver.

Lee Valley's Little Shaver

If you liked or disliked this blog post, why not leave a comment? I’m always happy to read or reply to comments.


Price: October 2015

Exchange rates: November 2015

As usual, please open images in a new tab to see them in high resolution.

To watch the videos in full resolution please watch them on YouTube.

You can find reviews of this sharpener at Popular Woodworking and Full Chisel.

Since this blog post comes with videos: At Lexikaliker you can enjoy what I think must be the world’s first ever pencil blog post with a video.

  1. as moving forward would result in the next cut of the blade shortening it again instead of shaping the existing point []

M+R 0981 sharpener 3

I recently got the M+R 0981″crank-style sharpener” from Lexikaliker.

The 0981 is one of the Möbius und Ruppert sharpeners that is not manufactured by M+R – according to their website it is produced by premium partners in Asia. I’m not sure whether this means that M+R designed this sharpener or whether they just put their name on an existing sharpener. In any case, it does look very similar to the Dahle 133, as discussed by Lexikaliker.

Red M+R 0981 sharpener - Möbius und Rupper

Overall this is a really nice sharpener.

No bite marks

It doesn’t leave bite marks on the pencil, that’s a big advantage – or in my case even a necessary requirement. I don’t think I’d use a pencil sharpener regularly if it leaves bite marks – however good the sharpening mechanism might be.

Crank - Red M+R 0981 sharpener - Möbius und Rupper

The point

The point it creates is quite nice and concave. Concave points look good, but I find measuring the angle more difficult. When I try to measure the 0981’s angle using my traditional method I get an angle of 20°. When I measure the angle on a computer I get an angle of slightly more than 21°. In any case the point produced suitable for most purposes, you can compare this angle to other angles on my sharpener page.

Viking pencils - Red M+R 0981 sharpener - Möbius und Rupper

Viking pencils sharpened with the two different crank settings.

Other features

The crank features a dial, not uncommon for this kind of sharpener. If you dial all the way to the left you get a ‘full’ point, but you can also create a ‘flat’ point, more suitable for coloured pencils if you set the dial to the right. Any setting in-between both extremes is also possible (the difference between both settings is about 3.5 full turn of the dial (1260°)).

The drawer is of course removable, for emptying the waste created during sharpening. The cutting mechanism is removable as well.

I tried to sharpen a Wopex in the 0981, but the auto stop doesn’t work with the harder material encasing the Wopex lead – this is common for crank sharpeners.

Red M+R 0981 sharpener - Möbius und Rupper

Price and availability

When you search for this sharpener on the internet most pages you can find seem to be from Japan. I assume this means that this sharpener is more commonly available in Japan. You can however find some sellers in the West. In Germany you can get this sharpener for €10 – €15 (~$11 – $22: £7.50 – £15), which seems good value for money.

Viking pencils - Red M+R 0981 sharpener - Möbius und Rupper

Close view of the Viking pencils sharpened with two different settings

 


Price and exchange rates: October 2015

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You can read more about the red Viking pencil in this blog post.


KUM Masterpiece 10

Introduction

I have used KUM’s Automatic Long Point sharpener, a two-step sharpener, for six years now, but I can’t say that I’ve ever been very happy with it. In the end, it didn’t use it much at all – saying that: it is a good sharpener for Staedtler’s Wopex, though.

kum-masterpiece-1

After reading Lexikaliker’s blog post about the KUM Masterpiece, a very similar sharpener with a magnesium body, I couldn’t resist and had to try it. I’ll spare you most details about the sharpener as I’d never be able to write them up as well as Lexikaliker anyway.

The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece is quite expensive. I paid €9.25. Luckily Lexikaliker was kind enough to help me get my hands on one. No wonder it’s expensive: There is a lot of manual work involved and that doesn’t come cheap in Germany (but in this case it’s much cheaper that products from another German company involving a lot of manual work).

kum-masterpiece-2

It’s a two-step sharpener, meaning that in the first step you only ‘sharpen’ the wood away. You then move to the second part of the sharpener where you sharpen the actual lead of the pencil.

The Masterpiece comes in a plastic container that is in a neoprene case.

Stop removed

Stop removed

Actually, the first time I used it I damaged the lid of the plastic container that sits inside the neoprene case – closing the snap fastener needs so much force that the case under it got a crack.

Conclusion

I can’t say that I get much better results with the masterpiece – compared to KUM’s Automatic Long Point sharpener, but it was slightly easier to achieve good results. Another benefit of this model: You can also slide the blue plastic stop off to expose the lead even further before sharpening in the second step. One last point to mention: The Masterpiece has an even more acute angle. Technically the angle for wood and graphite are different. In reality, assuming you used the built-in stop to expose just the right length of graphite, you get an angle of just over 15°. This is the most acute angle I know.

Step 1 completed

Step 1 completed – look at the beautiful shavings from my Noris.

It’s a nice sharpener, top marks for beautiful shavings, and I’m sure it will see more use than it’s Long Point sibling, but I still prefer my Deli 0635.

Step 2 completed

Step 2 completed