I’ve tried and used a number of electric pencil sharpeners over the past number of years. When you have kids and they love art, you’re dealing with colored pencils (pencil crayons) galore. There is really only so much manual sharpening that any one person can deal with. Needless to say I was happy to receive my electric pencil sharpener in the mail recently.
X-Acto is a well known brand and little did I realize that they are fully entrenched in the pencil sharpening market. They have many varieties and styles of sharpeners and even offer an electric crayon sharpener!
I’m reviewing the X-Acto SharpX Portable Battery pencil sharpener. It’s very similar in style and look to the SharpX Classic model which has a single sized hole. If you look on the X-Acto website you will see that they offer a similar style electric pencil sharpener with a multiple-size pencil selector. For my purposes, a single size slot is sufficient for pencils and colored pencils (pencil crayons).
Using the SharpX Electric Pencil Sharpener
I first sharpened some standard style pencils. These were the kind of pencils that you can buy in a pack so you can be assured of their quality. Why this is important, I’ll explain later.
The SharpX Portable Battery pencil sharper put a sharp tip on those pencils extremely fast. If you placing a blunt end, new pencil in to sharpen, this sharpener is fast. If you are looking to sharpen a dull point pencil, you literally just need to put it inside for the blink of an eye and you will get a super sharp point. It just needs to touch the blades and it gets a terrific point.
My wife didn’t exactly share my same skill when it came to sharpening. I did explain and demonstrated that basically a touch to the blade is most likely all the sharpening that is required in order to get a point. You can repeat a quick touch to the blade if the first one didn’t do the trick. To get the most out of this electric sharpener you don’t need to grind your pencil into oblivion. Do it in spurts for best results.
The shavings compartment is quite lovely and convenient once you figure out how to remove it. I don’t like to yank on plastic parts when I’m unsure of the angle or torque that is required. It does require a bit of a tug but it pops out nicely for easy disposal of shavings.
The SharpX Portable Battery pencil sharpener had more difficulty with oddball type pencils. Some pencils are made of a different wood composition and are a bit more challenging for the sharpener. It’s a bit more resistant in some situations. This means you need to hold the pencil a bit longer to fetch good results.
I should mention at this time that a strong hand is required to hold the pencil while your other hands holds the sharpener down so it doesn’t move. If you try pushing down hard into the sharpener with the pencil, the spin on the pencil will be hard to control and can stop the gears altogether. Obviously you don’t want the pencil to spin are you are holding it inside. For some people that might be the challenge. This is part of the reason I suggested to my wife to just edge the pencil into the sharpener. The pencil is less resistant if the sharpener is used in this manner. Engage, pull back, engage, pull back, etc. This sharpener can blast through your pencil and shorten it quickly if you’re not careful. I think it’s easy to overdo it.
The bottom line is that you will need one hand holding the pencil sharpener down, and then the other hand to grip the pencil. I’ve seen in customer comment sections that people take issue with using two hands. There is a lot of power in an electric pencil sharpener so I don’t see how you could stick a pencil in one with one hand unless the base was screwed into a wall or table or unless it weighed a lot. As long as you have two hands, operating this sharpener isn’t difficult.
Colored pencil sharpening is a hassle. I don’t think it matters so much whether it’s this sharpener or if it’s a manual sharpener. They are just an often times frustrating pencil to sharpen and from what I’ve found, results will vary drastically.
The issue when using something like the X-Acto SharpX sharpener for colored pencils is that the tips often break off during sharpening. Those broken tips get lodged inside and block the sharpener. More times than not, I would just use brute force and try to nudge that broken piece through the blades by using downward force. Most times that works, however I doubt it’s an advisable or smart technique.
I won’t put the fault for breaking the tips of colored pencils solely on the X-Acto SharpX in this case. I’ve yet to find a quality colored pencil that is reliable enough to be sharpened without constant breaking off. When using an electric pencil sharpener the process to remove those broken off tips that are stuck in the sharpener is a moderate pain to deal with. It just takes something thin like a pin to dislodge them and remove them however. If you come across a sensitive colored pencil and it breaks of multiple times you will eat away a large portion of the pencil in this sharpener for your efforts.
Some customer reviews that I’ve seen talk about battery life. Seriously? If you’re so worried about battery life then invest in rechargeable batteries. I personally have a lot of batteries around my house and I buy them when on sale. Rest assured, the battery life on this X-Acto SharpX electric sharpener is just fine.
Summary and Conclusion
- Can sharpen a dull point in the blink of an eye
- Portable thanks to being battery powered
- Easy to remove and dump pencil shavings
- Cheap price
- Requires a very strong grip on the pencil, so younger ages may not find this easy or effective to use
- Does not solve the problem of breaking tips while sharpening colored pencils
- Limited to one standard sized pencil
- Short burst, repetitive sharpening technique is a must for best results
Provided you use proper sharpening technique (as I’ve explained earlier) with the X-Acto SharpX Portable electric pencil sharpener, you should be happy with it. If you read negative reviews from customers, just keep in mind that a majority of those complaints are based on not using the sharpener in the correct way. The short, half second burst of sharpening, repeated, will result in an incredibly sharp point while shaving down the pencil length to a minimum. I say “in the blink of an eye” and I mean it. It’s just that fast provided you use proper technique.
If colored pencil sharpening is going to be a common use for you, then just expect mixed results. If you get them to a sharp point, and then test the tip with your fingers to see if it’s wobbly and broken, then you can pull it out with your fingers rather than running the potential of having it break off inside the mechanism. It’s not the magic fix to sharpening colored pencils in my experience, but I don’t think any sharpener can possibly be a magic fix.
Overall this is a cheaply priced electric pencil sharpener from the #1 brand when it comes to this style of product. If you have a lot of pencils and colored pencils needing sharpening, the X-Acto SharpX will get the job done in little time while saving your wrists. Keep in mind that it’s going to need strong hands to use so don’t expect your children to be using it. Sure tips will break off, but that is to be expected of any sharpener. Don’t overdo it, and checking the tip during the sharpening process will mean that this sharpener will be a more satisfying purchase.