AskDefine | Define sharpener

Dictionary Definition

sharpener n : any implement that is used to make an edge sharper; "a knife sharpener"

User Contributed Dictionary

see Sharpener



-er sharpen


  1. A device for making things sharp

Related terms


Extensive Definition

A pencil sharpener (also referred to as pencil parer) is a device for sharpening a pencil's point by shaving one end. Pencil sharpeners exist in both electric and hand-powered forms.


Pencils were in use before the development of devices specifically to sharpen them. Previously, they were sharpened by shaving with a knife. Pencil sharpeners made this task much easier and gave a more uniform result. Some specialized types, such as a Carpenter's Pencil are still usually sharpened with a knife, due to their flat shape, though recently a fixed-blade device with a rotatable collar has become available.
Bernard Lassimone, a French mathematician, applied for the first patent (French patent #2444) on pencil sharpeners in 1828. In 1847, Therry des Estwaux invented the manual pencil sharpener. John Lee Love invented the portable sharpener originally made for artists. claims that the Hammacher Schlemmer Company of New York offered the world's first electric pencil sharpener, as designed by Raymond Loewy, sometime in the early 1940s.l They now come in a wide array of colors and shapes. Now, it is common for traditional sharpeners to have a case around them so that the shavings do not fall, you can then remove this and empty the case.

Mechanical sharpeners

A mechanical pencil sharpener is hand-powered. A common, portable variety is usually small, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in size, and has no moving parts. The tip of the pencil is inserted into the hole of the sharpener and twisted, while holding the sharpener motionless. A blade inside the sharpener shaves the wood of the pencil, thus sharpening the tip. Such sharpeners can be bare or enclosed in a container to collect the shavings. The base of such a sharpener is often made of aluminium, magnesium or hard plastic.
A larger, stationary mechanical sharpener can be mounted on a desk or wall and powered by a crank. The pencil is inserted into the sharpener with one hand and the crank is turned with the other. This rotates a set of cylindrical burrs in the mechanism, set at an angle to each other; this quickly sharpens the pencil, with a more precise finish than the simpler blade device. Some such rotary sharpeners have only one burr cylinder. The casing of the sharpener is a repository for the pencil shavings; it needs to be emptied periodically. This type of mechanism was long the standard in offices, schools, and libraries before electric sharpeners became common, and these sturdy devices are still found.

Electric sharpeners

Carpenters still use flat pencils, originally intended to give a thicker and stronger lead, but with the same line width. These were traditionally sharpened with tools conveniently to hand, such as planes or sandpaper. Rotating pencil sharpeners are now available for these too, where a rotating plastic collar hold the pencil in position. These work poorly, as the conical point they generate removes all the advantages of the pencil's specialised shape.
Since mechanical pencils dispense the graphite stick progressively as it is used, they do not require sharpening and are usually made of some unsharpenable material such as plastic or metal. Such pencils are sometimes called "self-sharpening pencils." However, prolonged writing periods often cause one side of the graphite to become lopsided and dull. Specialized versions of "pencil sharpener", known as graphite pointers are available for drafters or other mechanical pencil users that demand constantly-sharp points .
There exist knives designed for pencil-sharpening, though they are used rarely in the United States. They resemble narrow razor blades.
sharpener in Arabic: مبراة
sharpener in Bulgarian: Острилка
sharpener in Danish: Blyantspidser
sharpener in German: Anspitzer
sharpener in Spanish: Sacapuntas
sharpener in Basque: Zorrozkailu
sharpener in French: Taille-crayon
sharpener in Galician: Afialapis
sharpener in Korean: 연필깎이
sharpener in Italian: Temperino
sharpener in Hebrew: מחדד
sharpener in Luxembourgish: Bläistëftspëtzer
sharpener in Dutch: Puntenslijper
sharpener in Norwegian Nynorsk: Blyantkvessar
sharpener in Polish: Temperówka
sharpener in Portuguese: Apontador de lápis
sharpener in Russian: Точилка для карандашей
sharpener in Slovenian: Šilček
sharpener in Finnish: Kynänteroitin
sharpener in Swedish: Pennvässare
sharpener in Turkish: Kalemtıraş
sharpener in Chinese: 筆刨

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1