Whenever September rolls around, and I see the store displays of school supplies lined up, I can’t help but think of the line from You’ve Got Mail when Tom Hank’s character writes, “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”
This year I actually made myself a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils!
We’ve been testing out pencil sharpeners, lots and lots of them. Last year when my daughter started kindergarten, I was in love with the idea of an old-fashioned, manual-crank sharpener. After a year of disenchantment, though, I have been on a quest for the best electric pencil sharpener. Several of the top office supply manufacturers sent us sharpeners to test out. After lots of evaluating — working our way through three, 24-count boxes of fresh pencils — I’m happy to report that we have a winner!
The Xacto School Pro sharpener blew us away with its lightning-fast speed. We timed it at 3.5 seconds from brand new pencil to homework-ready tip. Coming in second place, was the Stanley Bostitch QuietSharp6, getting the job done in 5 seconds.
The Xacto’s other benefits: it was easiest to use for younger testers. Many of the other electric sharpeners gave our kiddos a tough time with jamming — the pencils had to be inserted just right or the sharpener’s motor would stall. Although the Xacto School Pro is not what we’d consider compact, it did have the smallest footprint of the full-size sharpeners we tested. We tried two “compact” sharpeners from different manufacturers, but their performance convinced us that the beefier versions are worth the extra desk-space and cost. Neither was impressive in the speed tests, they couldn’t be adjusted to take various size pencils, and the motors were noticeably weaker.
We also tested out the super-fancy Stanley Bostitch QuietSharp Glow. Appearance-wise the stainless steel exterior was appealing to us moms and the kids loved the idea that the blue ring would glow once the pencil was sharp, but the excitement quickly wore off when none of them could actually get it to “glow” without help. It was giving the kids and even our adult testers jamming issues, and it came in slowest in our speed tests. We were also choking on the $80 price tag. (for a pencil sharpener?!) Just reminds us that more bells and whistles doesn’t always mean better.
Although a whistling motor IS better than a hand-crank sharpener any day. If you want to make your own sharpened pencil bouquet or (more likely) want to be prepared for homework time without resorting to crayons, may I suggest ordering an Xacto School Pro? $34 with free shipping from Amazon.