Maintaining Your Blade

When it comes to pencil sharpeners, the actual sharpening blade is one of the first things to encounter issues. While this is cause for many to throw it out and buy a completely new sharpener, lots of folks don’t realize just how easy it is to fix the blade themselves. Even if you’re not in the least bit handy, the below tips can save you the cost of a full pencil sharpener in under twenty minutes. There’s simply no need to throw fifty dollars down on a new, extravagant pencil sharpener when you can save your current one. Now, without further ado, let’s get that pencil sharpener fixed up.

Diagnosing the Problem

  1. Fixing up your blade won’t do a whole lot if it’s not the reason why your sharpener hasn’t been working so well as of late. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of a dull blade.
  2. You feel lots of resistance when sharpening a pencil.
  3. Pencils take longer to sharpen than usual or won’t sharpen at all.
  4. Your lead keeps breaking.
  5. Your pencil’s wood around the sharpened bit comes out looking choppy with various angles cut into it.

If you’re experiencing any of these above issues, you’re likely dealing with a dull blade. Now that we’re sure our blade is, in fact, dull, let’s take a look at what we can do about it.

Replace the Blade

Some manufacturers will actually sell single blades which can be bought separately from pencil sharpeners. While this is typically the cheapest option, you’ll no doubt experience the same issue all over again with your new blade come time. It will merely postpone the issue, causing you to buy more replacement parts later on down the road. Still, this method is much cheaper than buying a whole new pencil sharpener.

Once you receive your replacement, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to safely take out the last blade and put the new one in. If it doesn’t come with instructions, there are a few general rules to follow:

  1. Electric sharpeners should be unplugged beforehand.
  2. You’ll need a small screwdriver, typically a Phillip’s head, though it may vary from product to product.
  3. Open up your pencil sharpener (if applicable).
  4. Unscrew the blade currently attached to the sharpener.
  5. Screw in the new blade in the exact same position the old one was in.
  6. Sharpen the Blade

While the materials required to sharpen your blade may come with an initial cost, you’ll likely never need to spend a dime on the process again, saving you money in the long run. Another advantage to this method is you won’t have to wait for new blades to come in the mail, as you’ll be able to sharpen your current one whenever you’d like.

To undertake this process, you’ll need a whetstone with lots of surface area on at least two sides (a typical knife sharpener will likely not do the trick) and some sort of thick, tough work gloves that you know a blade won’t be able to cut through.

After unscrewing and removing the blade (without wearing gloves), you’ll want to simply place it directly on one of the two largest sides on your whetstone. After doing do, you’ll need to put on your gloves. Now, just slide the blade from one end of the whetstone to the other, applying light pressure with the palm of your hand all the while. Once the blade has made it’s way to the end of the stone, pick it up and place it back at the beginning to repeat the process.

It’s important to make sure that when you’re undertaking this process, the sharp part of the blade is facing the rear (if you’re sliding the blade from left to right, the sharp end should be on the left). Also, the face of the blade which features an angle (the angle responsible for making it sharp) should always be facing down, as this is the portion we want to sharpen. Lastly, when putting pressure on the blade with your palm, make sure to apply the most pressure to the rear, where the sharp bit is. If this is proving difficult, try using your thumb instead of your palm.

Tips:

  1. When holding a blade, make sure to grab it with your thumb and forefinger on the two sides which don’t feature a sharp bit.
  2. When screwing your blade back in, make sure it’s tight, otherwise your sharpener will preform poorly.
  3. Never even think about opening up an electric sharpener while it’s plugged in. Battery-operated sharpeners should have their batteries taken out.
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