Here is a problem I’ve had since elementary school – my pencil sharpener getting dull. Back then, it was a problem. Today, it’s an inconvenience. Well, no more because I have learned how to sharpen pencil sharpener blades. And it’s pretty easy, with the right tools and enough patience.
How to Sharpen Dull Pencil Sharpener Blades
1. Setting Up the Proper Workplace
Setting up a proper workplace may seem unimportant, but to me, it is. The appropriate workplace is a flat, solid surface. If the surface is not flat or stable, the sharpener may wobble a lot. The blade can cause damage in such a scenario.
Place the sharpener on the flat, solid surface. The blade should be facing up.
2. Get a Screwdriver
Most handheld pencil sharpeners are held together by a screw or screws, depending on the number of blades. The screwdriver should be the right size for the screw on the sharpener.
Usually, sharpeners use tiny screws. I had to try a few before landing on the right one. Fortunately, I have an eyeglass kit, which comes with a small screwdriver. It fits perfectly well with the sharpener screwdriver.
Some sharpeners use a flathead screw. If that’s the case, be prepared to get the appropriate screwdriver. If there’s no screwdriver small enough available, use something small and flat and can fit into the screw. A paperclip or a flat end of a fork can work. They are just harder to use.
3. Remove the Screw
Insert the screwdriver into the screw and rotate it counterclockwise. Keep on turning until the screw is completely removed. Make sure to keep track of the screw so assembling the sharpener will not be a problem.
4. Remove the Blade
Flip over the sharpener to loosen both the screw and the blade. Don’t try digging out the blade with your fingers; it can cut you. Here are pointers to keep in mind when removing the blades:
- Flip the sharpener upside down to remove the blade.
- A little shake may be necessary.
- Make sure to hold the sharpener close to the flat surface to limit its bounce when it falls off.
5. Repeat Steps 1 to 4 if there are more Blades
Some sharpeners have more than one blade. If all those blades need sharpening, repeat the blade-removing process on all of them.
6. Use a Sharpening Stone to Sharpen Blade
Here’s the tricky part. Sharpener blades are tiny and very challenging to hold while sharpening them. But it’s not impossible.
- Wet a sharpening stone with water. Some sharpening stones don’t need water, so make sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer.
- Others find that instead of using water, oil is a better whetstone lubricant.
- Place the sharpening stone on a damp cloth so it won’t move around when the sharpening process begins.
- Some sharpening stones have different grits. The grit is the measure of the coarseness of a sharpening stone. The higher the grit, the less coarse it is. The coarser it is, the more metal it rubs off in a pass. Since sharpener blades are tiny, I suggest sharpening stones with a finer surface. They should have a higher grit.
- Because sharpener blades are tiny, I suggest using a tweezer or, better yet, a needle-nosed plier to hold the blade.
- Slide the sharp end of the blade across the sharpening stone at a 20-degree angle. A few slides should be enough to sharpen the blade.
7. Clean the Blade
Often, all it takes is to clean the blade of gunks for it to work correctly. If this is the case, try rubbing a bit of rubbing alcohol on its surface. Even if this not the case and a sharpening really is in order, cleaning it afterward is a good practice.
8. Dry the Blades
After rubbing it with alcohol, dry the blades with a clean cloth. Leaving moisture on a piece of metal is a bad idea. It will oxidize. The metal will rust and corrode and essentially become useless.
9. Reassemble the Sharpener
Now that the blade is sharp and clean, it’s time to reassemble the sharpener. Use a tweezer to place the blade in its position. Make sure that the sharp edge is on the right side. Screw it in place with a screwdriver (clockwise rotation). And it’s as good as new!
Is it Worth it?
It takes a lot of steps to sharpen a pencil sharpener blade. And at first, I wondered if it’s worth all the trouble. Honestly, it’s not. Pencil sharpeners are very affordable. I can easily buy a new one when the one I own becomes dull and useless.
However, I like knowing that I can sharpen dull sharpener blades. I like knowing that, when I need to, I can restore a pencil to its original state.
Pencil sharpeners are convenient tools. But when they get dull, they are frustrating. Thankfully, with the right tools and the right amount of patience, anyone can restore them. Knowing how to sharpen pencil sharpener blades sure can come in handy.