Friday, November 09, 2007

Two new electric sharpeners

Jakar Electric pencil sharpener - what the box looks like

Have you ever owned something which was a vital part of how you like to work at your art? You know when you do because you get a feeling that everything goes well if it functions the way you like it and - if it doesn't - you can't work at all!

For many coloured pencil artists, their favourite sharpener often comes into this category. However I know I feel really stupid when I can't work because my pencil sharpener isn't working properly!

Then have you ever had that experience when you have gone out to replace your prized art tool and can't find it anymore? Not funny.

Recently I've had to start buying battery powered sharpeners again for heavy duty sharpening at home because my 3 year old Jakar electric pencil sharpener has had quite a battering in the last three years. It's stopped getting the really long sharp needle point I had at the beginning and is beginning to protest quite a lot when I use it. So it needs replacing. However it is virtually impossible to find one of these mains powered sharpeners in London. It's also not easy to find online and is very heavy to have sent by post.

So I've been looking forward to the NEC and Art Materials Live show so I could make sure that I could get a replacement sharpener along with stocking up on other 'hard to find' art materials.

My Jakar Electric Pencil Sharpener is Model 5151(V-8) .
In 2004, I bought it for £25.99 - which makes it about 39 euros. Yesterday, at the Fair, it was being sold for £26.95. Its quite big and heavy with dimensions of 3.3" x 4.3" x 6.5" and a weight of 2.5lb or 1.1kg.

It has a thermal cut-out which operates if you start to overload it by sharpening too many pencils one after the other or when the shavings box is full. It has a spiral cutter (not a blade cutter) which is much more effective than a blade and produces excellent long needle points on coloured pencils (see right) and the finest wood shavings you've ever seen.

I notice the box now says it's suitable for use with good quality coloured pencils of up to 8mm thickness whereas previously it used to say it couldn't be used with coloured pencils. It's probably still the case that it always benefits hugely from being fed a stick of graphite on a regular basis. This cleans and lubricates the cutter area which can get clogged up with waxy pencils.

The only drawback with this sharpener is that it can gobble pencils if you're not careful. On the other hand it cuts pencils much more effectively and consquently puts less strain on the pencil and they are less likely to break or contort in the sharpener.

I can find this sharpener for sale on the internet at Artifolk who are not only selling a good range of sharpeners, they're also selling replacement cutter blades for the machine - which I have never ever seen before and didn't know were available! Otherwise I wouldn't have needed to go to the Jakar stand yesterday to buy a second electric sharpener - "just in case" I ever had difficulty finding it again.......and my artwork suffered as a result! ;)

Alternative pencil sharpeners from Jakar include their two battery powered models, the plastic one on the left has two holes and can take thicker pencils and the one of the right has a single hole. However these are both blade cutters and I go through them very fast if I have to use them rather than my mains powered sharpener. They are OK for taking out on sketching trips but their square shape makes them a nuisance to pack.

Prices at the Exhibition for many art goods are typically much reduced over those you will pay retail in a B&M or online store. Discounts of between 30-40% are not untypical. For those of you who want to show your spouse/partner what to buy you for Christmas, then the Exhibition is a great place to go!

You can also see members of UKCPS demonstrating how to work with coloured pencils. The space allocated to demonstrations generally was excellent and there were a number running down on the exhibition floor all the time I was there.

NEC Art Materials Live
If you're going to the show over the weekend, I recommend trying to park in Car Park 2 which is very near to Hall 10 which is where the Art materials Live show is. The travel information on the exhibition website is appalling and you'd do much getting information about how to get to the NEC and site maps from the NEC website.


I got my new main powered sharpener one from the very nice people from Gadsby's who were running the Jakar/Caran d'Ache four new battery powered eraser pens (another vital tool!) and spare erasers, plus spares of the Pablos which are also very difficult to locate in shops.

I've never come across Gadsby's before but I promised to give them a mention. They have been specialist art suppliers who have been operating in the North Midlands for over 100 years. they now have five shops in Leicester, Leeds, Lincoln (2 shops) and Walsall and you can find them on the internet at their website or at the website for the retails shops



  1. Gadsby's is our local art shop :)

    I'm envious - it's ages since I went to this show and it is full of lovely things to tempt you!

  2. Green! Green! Green! But I'm gracious enough to be happy that you found your sharpener ;)

  3. I know! However I'm afraid my right hand isn't!

    This is a medical necessity for me when I'm working for any length of time. I've tried working with a manual sharpener and I get pain and swelling very fast so thyey are only good for ad hoc sharpening.

  4. Hi, I don't suppose you know how to change the blade in a Jakat pencil sharpener do you? I can't work out how to remove the blade in mine!

  5. I have actually replaced mine but I'm blessed if I can remember how. I think the instructions must have come with the spiral cutters which you can buy.

    Try asking Jakar.


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