Hand, Sharpened.

Sharpening pencils by hand seems like one of those life-skills that has nearly vanished. It’s easy to understand why—pencil sharpeners are (mostly) inexpensive, can be found anywhere, and they get the job done. But there’s something very self-reliant about sharpening a pencil by hand, and there’s no denying that there is a sense of craft to it as well.

But it’s not without its drawbacks, namely the danger of having sharp instruments near your fingers. Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: that because I’m a musician, I’m just overly precious about my fingers (actually, I should probably be much more careful about how I treat my hands than I currently do). No, my concern goes back to my time in the Cub Scouts:

I honestly don’t remember if my misadventure was in service of a whittling badge per se, but I can tell you that I was in fact whittling for some project, and my left index finger is the proof (badge notwithstanding). I didn’t learn much about whittling, but I did learn that T.V. blood looks nothing like real blood.

It’s a very rewarding feeling, sharpening a pencil by hand, and it’s one of those things where the reward isn’t in the arrival—it’s in the doing. I’ll never give up using a pencil sharpener, especially when I have some detailed notation to do. But for those times when I only need to sketch something out or jot something down, I may just reach for my pencil knife instead.

Special thanks to Gunther at Lexikaliker for ending my years-long search for a Faber pencil knife.
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7 Responses to Hand, Sharpened.

  1. musicalassumptions says:

    I have the exact same whittling badge! It happened when I was 12 or 13, and I haven’t put myself in anything like a whittling position since. Nice job on the pencil, though.


    • Sean says:

      Thanks, Elaine.
      Those were my first and only stitches (knock on wood). Though I had my hand closed in a door once, so far I’ve avoided more grievous injuries.


  2. Kevin says:

    I too have been looking for that knife for many years since seeing it used by John Hughes in a Faber Castell watercolor pencil video production. Faber Castell can be so annoying at showing things that can rarely be accessed by the general public. I too cut my index finger to the bone twenty years ago while pretending to be a wood worker.


    • Sean says:

      I wonder if F-C realizes that the difficulty in finding some of their items only contributes to the sense of obsession. Or, perhaps they know that all too well. 🙂


      • Kevin says:

        I think they do know, but how far do you play the game before people just walk away from this marketing arrogance.


      • Gunther says:

        Before buying this knife at Amazon Marketplace I asked two stationery shops near me if they can order me one. Much to my suprise, the wholesalers of both shops do not stock this knife so the shops weren’t able to order it. I found this strange since both shops stock many other items from Faber-Castell.


  3. Pingback: Dwrgwyn | Contrapuntalism

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