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The Classroom Friendly Sharpener

One of the challenges of running an elementary grade classroom is noise. As my wife, Susan, says of her class, “Asking a kid to ignore 39 other kids when they’re trying to work is asking a lot”. Most adults can’t do it very well either.

Many teachers use an electric pencil sharpener but they can be quite noisy, and are expensive to buy and don’t last very long. The good old days when the school provided these kinds of supplies (heck, any supplies) are long gone.

So Classroom Friendly Supplies offers us a manual hand crank pencil sharpener. The idea is that it is quieter and longer lasting than an electric. I also suspect, because it is work, there’s perhaps less of a tendency to use it to grind every pencil down to a nubbin.

Classroom friendly was kind enough to send a sharpener for me and my wife to look at. I compared it to the venerable Mitsubishi KH-20, and Susan saw how the kids got along with it.

Compared to the Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi KH-20 is light, attractive, inexpensive, and entirely plastic. It also has no clamp. It sharpens very, very well.

But it is not very sturdy. The handle on the crank is held on my a rivet that likes to work itself out of its hole. The bottom has a dainty pad of foam that keeps it from scratching surfaces, but is not very durable. There is a button to limit how sharp the pencil can get, which is a nice feature.

The Classroom Friendly sharpener, by comparison, is heavy, metal, and a bit less refined. It is built like a tank but it retains the important features. The pencil is held by a clamp so it is sharpened properly. The cutter can be removed to fish out broken points (common with colored pencils) and the waste drawer is clear so at least there’s a chance to see it’s full before it gets too full and jams things up.

The sharpener has a table clamp included so it can be fastened down. There is also a permanent screw-down mount available. This both makes it easier to sharpen, and keeps the sharpener in one place.

I found the sharpening to be just as good as with the Mitsubishi, but the overall feel is a bit more clunky. The plastic gears in the Mitsubishi will always be smoother than the metal gears in the CF sharpener, but probably less durable.

The Mitsubishi is $33 at Jetpens.com.

The Classroom Friendly sharpener is a lot less, you can get 3 of them for less than $60 at www.classroomfriendlysupplies.com. They also have spare parts, and many colors to choose from.


Susan likes the sharpener overall. While more steps are required than an electric sharpener, and it is not much if any quieter and marginally less disruptive, it sharpens very well. It handles wrapped pencils well. One student has become the sharpener master, but all the kids are able to use it without trouble. It’s a second-grade class.

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The pencil clamp mechanism has two small black plastic pieces that form the handles. Those can come off, and one day Susan found one on the other side of the classroom. It doesn’t break the sharpener per-se, but it is a piece that could be lost.

A good deal

The Mitsubishi is $33 at Jetpens.com.

The Classroom Friendly sharpener is a lot less, you can get 3 of them for less than $60 at www.classroomfriendlysupplies.com. So, for the price of a decent electric sharpener, you could have three of these instead – placed around a classroom they should eliminate any line at the sharpener. They also have spare parts (try finding those for an electric), and many colors to choose from.

While I use the Mitsubishi at home and it is a bit more refined, for a classroom there’s no contest. The Classroom Friendly sharpener is much less expensive and more solidly built, and has a table clamp and spare parts available.

Have a look!


Getting Past The Overwhelm

It’s been a busy several months for me. Two new jobs, the second in a different state, my father’s death, a trip to Arizona, another to Disney, and 10,000+ vehicle miles of commuting. 

So I open my journal to write an entry, and I look at the last entry date – over a week prior, maybe longer – and realize how much stuff has happened since then. I’ve traveled, worked a week in a new job, lived in a room far from home. Not to mention all the feelings about a what is going on. It could fill pages! 

I always imagine that my journal entries will be this awesome prose mixed with sketches, and when I think of how much writing I need to do to catch up it’s hard to keep going. 

It threatens to overwhelm. 

To get past the overwhelm, I cheat. I skip the prose. I accept that there will be no sketches. I write bullets:

  • Went to Arizona
  • Swimming at Grasshopper point

  • Saw the Grand Canyon

  • Swam a lot

Then I may add some detail or notes on something in particular, and then I move on. 

Remember the point of doing something is to enjoy doing the something – the writing can come later, and it doesn’t need always need to be awesome. 

Now, the folks who are fond of Bullet Journaling will say that’s the way it should be done all the time. When I first saw that method I thought it a bit dry, but I see the value now. The bullets do bring back memories. But it’s not what I’d want to fill a book with.