Keeping Your Motor Running

While some parts of electric pencil sharpeners can be easily and cheaply replaced or fixed, things get a bit more tricky when we’re talking about the motor that actually causes the blades to scrape against inserted pencils. Unfortunately, a broken motor is synonymous with a broken pencil sharpener, often leaving the entire unit unsalvageable. Luckily, preventing any motor-related issues from occurring in the first place is a rather easy ordeal with the right knowledge and tools. Today, we’re going to take a look at how to maintain your electric pencil sharpener’s motor, taking a very small amount of time out of your year to save money and hassle in the long run.

Who Shouldn’t Maintain Their Pencil Sharpener?

If you have a warranty on your pencil sharpener, it’s important to double check that opening the unit up won’t void your warranty. The whole reason we’re here is to save money, which is the exact opposite of voiding your warranty. Just to play it safe, it’s better just to leave your pencil sharpener alone if the above applies to you.

Necessary Materials

All of the tools you’ll need to complete the job typically come at a low cost and can be found at your local hardware or department store. Here’s a list of the things you’ll need:

  • A screwdriver (the type and size depends on your sharpener)
  • Canned air
  • Safety goggles
  • Motor lubricant (any brand will do)
  • Q-Tips (or a similar brand)
  • Cleaning the Blades and Motor

Now that we’ve rounded up everything we need, let’s start working on our pencil sharpeners. After cutting off any power sources to your sharpener, you’ll want to gently open it with the proper screwdriver. After doing so, equip your safety goggles and use your canned air to clean any debris off of the motor. That’s it, you’re done!

The above process can be done up to once a month to keep your motor free of any unwanted pieces of graphite or pencil shavings. Not only will this increase the motor’s life expectancy by making its job easier, your pencil sharpener will actually be less prone to jamming as well.

Lubricating the Motor

Lubricating your motor is actually much easier than it sounds. To do so, you’ll want to disassemble your pencil sharpener in the same manner as we did above. After doing so, simply squirt one or two drops of lube onto your motor. Unless you have a very small pencil sharpener, you’ll typically need to use a Q-Tip to get the lubricant into all of the nooks and crannies. It’s important to remember not to press hard enough with the Q-Tip that it leaves debris on the motor, as this is counter productive to our efforts.

This process can be done as often as you’d like, though it’s really only necessary to do so about once a year. For a very low cost and next to no time and effort, you’ll be able to significantly increase the life expectancy of your electric pencil sharpener’s motor.


  • Never operate on a pencil sharpener with access to a power source, even if it’s turned off.
  • Always make sure to wear goggles when using canned air, as it can flick debris around with force.
  • When possible, it’s wise to refrain from physically touching the blades or motor with your fingers; Q-Tips are a great option for this reason.
  • Maintain your motor before it becomes problematic, otherwise it may be too late. Regular maintenance is key.
  • Some pencil sharpeners’ shaving trays will fall off when the rest of the unit is taken apart; removing the tray beforehand can save you from having one more thing to clean up afterwards.
  • Wear old clothes or an apron; motor lubricant can stain clothes beyond repair.