Best Electric Pencil Sharpeners

Updated November 2020
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Bottom Line

Buying guide for best electric pencil sharpeners

With smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it seems like we all type a lot more than we actually write these days. But if you still need perfect points on your pencils for writing and sketching, an electric pencil sharpener can be a very handy tool.

But not all electric pencil sharpeners are the same, so it’s important to know what to look for when you’re shopping. That starts with deciding on the power source, speed, shavings receptacle, and other features that will work best for your pencil sharpening needs. With so many options to sort through, it’s no wonder that shopping for an electric pencil sharpener can get a little frustrating.

At BestReviews, our goal is to take the frustration out of shopping. That’s why we’re committed to in-depth product research that provides all the facts you need to make the most informed shopping decisions. Looking for an electric pencil sharpener? Continue reading our shopping guide for plenty of helpful advice on how to choose the ideal model for your home or classroom.

If you plan to use your electric pencil sharpener in a classroom setting where it will be used frequently, choose a heavy-duty or professional model. A low-end sharpener can wear out easily if it’s used too frequently.

Benefits of electric pencil sharpeners

If you’re used to the usual manual pencil sharpeners that many classrooms have, the idea of a pencil sharpener that doesn’t require quite so much effort is probably appealing. An electric pencil sharpener is powered by electricity, batteries, or a USB cord, and it can quickly sharpen your pencil with minimal effort from you. You simply insert the pencil into the sharpener, and the motor automatically turns the pencil against the blade for you, so you can reach your desired sharpness in a matter of seconds.

Anyone who uses pencils regularly can benefit from an electric pencil sharpener. In particular, though, students and teachers are ideal candidates for an electric sharpener. Artists who regularly draw with pencils can also enjoy an electric model. An electric pencil sharpener can be a great option for individuals with arthritis or other hand injuries, too.

Did you know?
Not all electric pencil sharpeners are compatible with colored pencils. If you use colored pencils regularly, be sure to choose a model that can handle them.

Features to consider for electric pencil sharpeners

Power source

Electric pencil sharpeners either require batteries or to be plugged into an outlet for operation.

Battery-operated electric pencil sharpeners are extremely portable, so they’re ideal for bringing back and forth between home and school or the office. But they typically don’t have the same power as plug-in models, so they can’t sharpen pencils as quickly.

Plug-in electric pencil sharpeners must be operated near an outlet or a computer with a USB port, which limits where you can place them on your desk or in your office. But they sharpen more quickly because they have a stronger motor, and you never have to worry about being out of batteries when you need to sharpen a pencil.


Nearly all electric pencil sharpeners work pretty quickly, so there’s not much difference in terms of speed. However, if you plan to use your pencil sharpener in a classroom where many students will need to use it, you may want to look for a model that’s labeled heavy-duty or professional. These electric pencil sharpeners tend to have a stronger motor, so they can sharpen more pencils faster.

Shavings receptacle

Electric pencil sharpeners all have some type of bin or receptacle for catching the shavings from pencils as you sharpen them. Most models automatically stop working when the receptacle is filled to the top, so it’s important to empty it regularly.

The larger the electric pencil sharpener’s receptacle, the less often you’ll have to empty it. Look for a model that has a generously sized receptacle that will allow you to sharpen as many pencils as possible before having to dump out the shavings.

Pencil size

Pencils come in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to make sure that any electric pencil sharpener you choose can accommodate the pencils that you use. The most common pencil size is 8 mm in diameter, but pencils can run all the way up to 10.5 mm in diameter.

For the most versatility, choose an electric pencil sharpener with an adjustable wheel that allows you to change the size of the opening for the pencil. It can usually accommodate up to six different pencil sizes, so this feature is ideal for the classroom.

Sharpening angle

Some electric pencil sharpeners allow you to adjust the sharpening angle. By changing the angle, you can make sure that your pencils are as sharp as you need them to be and prevent the lead from breaking during sharpening.

In general, a larger angle exposes more lead during sharpening, while a smaller angle helps protect the lead from breakage.


Most electric pencil sharpeners make some noise when you use them, which can be distracting in a classroom or work setting. If you plan to use the sharpener in an environment where the noise might be a distraction, opt for a model that offers quieter operation. These electric pencil sharpeners are usually designed with a more efficient motor and non-skid rubber feet to prevent the sharpener from vibrating, so the noise is limited as much as possible.

Blade replacement

Over time, it’s normal for an electric pencil sharpener’s blade to wear down, which can affect its performance. Some models allow you to easily change the blade when necessary so the sharpener can keep working like new. Other electric pencil sharpeners don’t allow for blade replacement, which means you’ll need to replace the entire sharpener when the blade becomes dull.

Prices for electric pencil sharpeners

Electric pencil sharpener prices vary based on the power source, receptacle size, and other features. In most cases, though, you’ll pay between $6 and $95.

Battery-operated electric pencil sharpeners that can only accommodate one pencil size and feature a small shavings receptacle usually cost between $6 and $18.

Plug-in electric pencil sharpeners that can only accommodate one pencil size and feature a small shavings receptacle generally run from $15 to $36.

Plug-in electric pencil sharpeners that can accommodate more than one pencil size, feature a large shavings receptacle, and offer quiet operation typically range from $36 to $95.

"Avoid letting the shavings receptacle in your electric pencil sharpener get too full. You can have a big mess on your hands when you finally dump it out if you wait too long."


  • When you insert a pencil in an electric pencil sharpener, don’t push too hard. If you apply too much pressure, you can damage the blade.

  • If children are using an electric pencil sharpener, make sure that they don’t insert the eraser end of the pencil into the sharpener. Not only can the metal damage the blade and motor, but this can cause injuries as well.

  • If your electric pencil sharpener has multiple holes for different size pencils, make sure to choose the right one. Your pencil won’t be sharpened as effectively if it doesn’t fit securely in the sharpener.

  • Avoid sharpening softer writing tools like crayons, chalk, or waxy pencils in an electric pencil sharpener. They’ll likely break and wind up damaging the sharpener.
Plug-in electric pencil sharpeners often have a longer lifespan than battery-powered models.


Q. How long does an electric pencil sharpener usually last?

A. The lifespan of an electric pencil sharpener depends on how often it’s used, the quality of its motor, and how well you maintain it. In most cases, though, an electric pencil sharpener will last at least five years. Some heavy-duty models can last 10-plus years.

Q. How can I prevent oversharpening pencils in an electric pencil sharpener?

A. Because electric pencil sharpeners work so quickly, it’s very easy to leave a pencil in for too long and oversharpen it. As a result, you’ll go through your pencils more quickly, which can be frustrating. Some electric sharpeners have a built-in auto stop feature, though, which automatically stops the sharpener once the pencil is sharp.

If your electric pencil sharpener doesn’t have an auto stop feature, don’t leave a pencil in the sharpener for more than five seconds at a time. Check on the pencil’s point then, and only continue sharpening if it isn’t as sharp as you’d like.

Q. Do electric pencil sharpeners usually come with a warranty?

A. Many electric pencil sharpeners come with some type of warranty. Lower-end sharpeners usually only offer two to three years of warranty protection. However, high-end models often offer up to a 10-year warranty. If you want to make sure that your purchase is adequately protected, check the warranty coverage before you choose an electric pencil sharpener.

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