Monday, 8 March 2010

Product review: Jakar Electric Pencil Sharpener

Product: Jakar Electric Pencil Sharpener - Model 5151(V-8)
Summary: a very efficient and effective pencil sharpener which can, with care, be used with coloured pencils. Needs to be fed pure graphite sticks periodically to be kept really happy. It works well with all brands of pencil. I find the oil based brands achieve the best points.
Technical Details:
  • 3.3" x 4.3" x 6.5"
  • big and heavy (for domestic use only) weighs 2.5lb or 1.1kg
Who should buy this?: Dedicated pencil artists and anybody else requiring a sharpener which produces a very sharp point time and time again.
Who should not buy this? Hobby artists who've not yet decided whether or not they want to pursue pencil art - simply because although it's invaluable to the pencil artist, it is also expensive as well. Wait until you've got the pencil bug - and then it's a good investment.
  • features a helical cutter - the best cutter available for getting long needle sharp points
  • the helical cutter blade can be replaced
  • thermal cut out preserves the motor
  • large shavings drawer - easy to access and remove
  • extremely useful for people with hand injuries or arthritis type disabilities as it means there is no need to twist or compress as normally occurs in hand sharpening action
  • safety precaution - it does not operate when the shavings receptacle is removed as this exposes the cutting blades
Think Again?
  • it's very large and heavy and is not easily portable
  • mains-powered hence not as green as hand sharpeners - and you've got no sharpener in a power cut!
  • always manages to cut out just before you you start to sharpen the pencil you need to use right now!
  • use with care or else you'll be shaving all your pencils away
Manufacturer / Distributor: Jakar Jakar International Ltd Hillside House 2-6 Friern Park London N12 9BX Tel: 0208 445 6376 Fax: 0208 445 2714 Email:
Suppliers: Available from: Artifolk and art fairs and some B&M art shops (but not often found on the hight street)

I bought my very first Jakar electric pencil sharpener in 2004 for £25.99. When I was in hospital having a major operation in 2005, I missed it so much that I asked "he who must not be bored while I sketch" to bring it in so I could carry on drawing through my recovery! The consultant was greatly intrigued!

This sharpener got a real "power user" battering from me over the course of three years and started to have problems no matter how many graphite pencils I fed it!

In 2007 I started to get worried about not being able to find a new one as I very rarely saw it in shops and I was also very concerned about the cost of postage for such a heavy item. So while at the Art Materials Fair at the NEC I took the opportunity to buy two more for £26.95 each. One of these has been battered and I'm now using the second.

What I didn't realise for a long time is it's possible to buy the helical sharpening blades separately. I can find this sharpener for sale on the internet at Artifolk. They also sell the Jakar Spare Cutter Blade for Electric and Large Desktop Sharpeners

How it works

This sharpener has a helical cutter (not a blade cutter). This is much more effective than a blade and produces excellent long needle points on coloured pencils (see right) and the finest wood shavings you've ever seen. The results in part depend on the brand of pencil you are sharpening. My personal view is that the oil based brands (Faber Castell Polychromos and Lyra Rembrandt) achieve the best results in terms of points.

Once you get this sharpener you'll discover an urgent need to sharpen your entire pencil collection as you marvel at the points it can achieve!

You can see mine on the right after my first encounter with this sharpener.

This is also when you discover that it has a thermal cut-out feature. This cuts in (and stops the sharpener)if you start to overload it by sharpening too many pencils one after the other. The sharpener also refuses to sharpen when the shavings box is full.

The box now says it's suitable for use with good quality coloured pencils of up to 8mm thickness whereas previously it used to say it couldn't be used with coloured pencils. It's probably still the case that it always benefits hugely from being fed a stick of graphite on a regular basis. This cleans and lubricates the cutter area which can get clogged up with waxy pencils.

The only drawback with this sharpener is that it can gobble pencils if you're not careful. On the other hand it cuts pencils much more effectively and consequently puts less strain on the pencil and they are less likely to break or contort in the sharpener.

Recommendation: I highly recommend the Jakar mains powered pencil sharpener with the helical cutter blade. My recommendation is guided by three facts - I like sharp points and I've got tenosynovitis which limits my capacity for hand sharpening. It also may seem expensive but the reality is that one of these lasts far longer than other sharpeners for artists who are need a sharpener which can cope with heavy duty pencil sharpening.

I've commented previously on pencil sharpeners on Making A Mark - but most are old posts. This week and next I'm going to do a series of posts about pencil sharpeners of different types and brands. If you've written a post about pencil sharpeners do let me know.

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Unknown said...

Very helpful review assisted us in buying the right product. Thanks for taking the trouble to post this.

Nick Roberts

Dave said...

Agree 100% with this review. The Jakars a very impressive pencil sharpener which can even put needle-like points on derwent compressed charcoal pencils and carbothello pencils.

Anonymous said...

For those in the states who needs to find a 110 volt sharpener it looks like school smart is shipping an identical rebranded sharpener.

Making A Mark said...

No - I took a look at their pencil sharpener page and there's nothing there that looks like this pencil sharpener.

Plenty of its American cousins from American manufacturers though. But then they've always been about. I would say from experience of listening to comments from fellow pencil artists that these vary considerably in quality.

Jonas said...

Hello, a little late into the discussion here but I've got a question regarding this sharpener. Does it go as well with wax based (Prismacolor Premier) pencils as you mention it does with the Faber Castell Polychromos you mention in the review?


Jonas said...

Hello, a little late into the discussion here but I've got a question regarding this sharpener. Does it go as well with wax based (Prismacolor Premier) pencils as you mention it does with the Faber Castell Polychromos you mention in the review?


Making A Mark said...

I've got pencils from all brands and I use them with all and it works fine

However I would say that Prismacolor pencils have a reputation for poor quality when it comes to sharpening and breaking. This is nothing to do with the pencil sharpener and has everything to do with Sanford cutting corners and not using good quality wood for the casing and not bonding the core so that it doesn't break

This is one of the main reasons that people switch to eg Faber Castell. However in general the quality of the best European pencils is so much better than Prismacolor.

Anonymous said...

Alas, my Faber-Castell Albrecht Durers and Caran d'Ache graphites are 8.3mm diameter (hexagonal corner to hexagonal corner) and thus cannot go into the hole and cannot be sharpened at all. This is made only for ordinary pencils (8mm) not for art pencils. I am mystified by this review.

But it does sharpen ordinary pencils to the longest, sharpest point I've ever seen.

Making A Mark said...

I'm happy to publicise those pencils which do not fit although it's not my practice to publish comments where the person commenting is anonymous.

Thing is I don't use those pencils and consequently this is still the best pencil sharpener for me! :)

Incidentally if you'd like to show me the pencil sharpener which does take every pencil and sharpen it electronically lead me to it - but do make a point of identifying yourself next time.

I know of handheld sharpeners which can produce long points - but the point of this review is that I have tenosynvitis and others have arthritis in their hands and sharpeners which do an effective job as well as reducing strain and pain are to be applauded at all times!

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