On concealing awesome design with catastrophically not awesome design

This post is brought to you by the 2013 First Annual Colored Pencil Audit, so before relevant ado, the results are:

Total colored pencils retained: 25
Breakdown by general color:
5 green
5 brown (including yellow ochre and metallic copper)
4 purple (including pale rose and metallic mauve)
3 pink (including peach)
3 red (including orange)
3 blue
2 black

Total pencils retained which were not colored: 3 (2 2HB, 1 eyeliner)

Total pencils retained which were not sharpened: 1 (plastic, twist-bottom, pink)

Total colored pencils discarded: 6 (blue, yellow, grey, orange, pink, white) due to the core breaking off at the barrel after twice being sharpened to a point

Total pencils discarded which were actually graphite: 1 (B) due to same issue

Total items discarded which were not pencils at all: every part of the holds-your-shavings pencil sharpener which was not part of the classic 1″ x 5/8″ metal unhoused design.

This started because of a critical design flaw: if the core of a pencil broke off while being sharpened, and if the point at which it broke off was wider than the escape hole (colored pencils usually have wider cores) or if the sharpener was held at an angle with the pencil pointing up such that the unexpectedly broken end did not fall down and out but rather up and in, it easily became stuck inside the sharpener. As modeled below by broken yellow, there’s a hinged double-door sort of thing that seems to be there to prevent odd shavings from falling out the in-hole of the sharpener into one’s bag.

And the inside: the diagonal rectangle through which you can see the back side of the doors is where the metal sharpener was fixed in place, and there’s about an eighth of an inch of clearance between that layer and the entrance.

Notice also the lack of space for shavings: more than one good sharpening and you start to get a massive clump of shavings that prevent further sharpening, so if you have a heavy hand when writing (like me) and sharpen your pencil more than once in the course of a lecture (like me) it doesn’t always last. The pencils I’ve been sharpening have barrels with wood between splinter and structure, not sharpening into beautiful rosettes but also not falling to dust, so they should be the ideal candidates for this design element of the sharpener. Nope.

The remaining metal sharpener has a feature that actually makes it very distinct and improved on the classic sharpener: instead of the backside (the side without the blade) being whole, it has a little cut where the core itself is sharpened, meaning that you can sharpen blade-side down for your shavings to fall into a trash can while from the top you can see how sharpened the pencil is as you turn it, without having to pull it out. This is awesome! And unusual enough that I currently can’t find an example on a Google image search. I present it below, as modeled by metallic mauve:

How cool is that? Classic design, significantly useful enhancement, and one that’s very easy to add on – you just cut away a bit.

So, this awesome enhanced sharpener was entirely inside of a case designed to fit well in the hand and contain the sharpenings all while closed, right?

An opaque case, right?


This sharpener as a whole package is made by B3. As near as I can tell, the metal just-the-basic sharpeners they sell do not have this keyhole core view. It’s possible that this one does, but…maybe not? Seems like the way to get this sharpener is to get the (eco-friendly!) terrible plastic case version, snap out the sharpener inside, and discard the outside, hinges and pushbutton closure and all.



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