How To Sharpen Pencils

A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening (2012)
How to Sharpen Pencils

In this book, or rather manual, Mr. Rees adds to the current artisanal fad by presenting (in great detail) the craft of manually sharpening a pencil. He covers ten different types of pencil sharpeners, complete with pictures, sketches and clip art to illuminate the written word. He includes such subjects as warm up tips for the artisan, detailed anatomy of a pencil (I learned that the crimped metal connecting the shaft of the pencil to the eraser is called the ferrule), tools used by the perfectionist, psychological risks of being an artisanal pencil sharpener and  how sharpening pencils can enrich your senses.

Mr. Rees believes in taking pride in ones work and gains satisfaction from knowing that people appreciate and enjoy using a masterfully sharpened pencil. He even offers this service to those who desire a hand crafted sharpened pencil, but do not wish to put the effort into it themselves. He offers his own Artisanal Pencil Sharpening service, where for $12.50 plus $2.50 S&H, people can mail in their own pencils to be sharpened by him, or receive a sharpened pencil provided by the craftsman.

His love for his subject is illuminated in his following excerpt:

“Create the proper tension by drawing the faceplate away from the body of the sharpener. You should feel the strength of the faceplate’s springs as they struggle against your fingers to pull the faceplate back to its resting position.

‘Don’t worry, little springs,’ you may whisper, ‘you shall have your rest---but first I have a treat for you to draw into the body of the sharpening mechanism.

Sure enough, with its aperture open and its faceplate extended, the sharpener is finally ready to receive its pencil.”

It is a short book, but includes within its 200+ pages appendixes with recommended web resources, pilgrimage sites and wines that taste like pencils.

I first became acquainted with David Rees through his internet clip art cartoon called “Get Your War On” that became popular during the Bush years One can find this strip, along with other projects by Mr. Rees at his website

Well worth a quick read for those who like their humor dry.

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