In the wonderful world of arts and crafts, pencil sharpeners tend not to get as much attention as other more ‘exciting’ supplies.
Colored pencils, in particular, are constantly being upgraded, with watercolor and oil-based pencils becoming increasingly popular, and color ranges reaching into the hundreds.
With all of the incredible colors and mediums to choose from, it’s no surprise that finding a suitable pencil sharpener is often the last thing on customers’ minds when it comes to buying art supplies.
However, having the right pencil sharpener for your colored pencils is crucially important.
Colored pencil cores are much softer than graphite cores because they tend to be wax or oil-based.
Therefore, they require a sharpener with an especially sharp blade and a gentle sharpening motion to minimize the risk of damage.
If you’re looking for a sharpener that will keep your colored pencils in optimal condition for as long as possible, this is your lucky day!
We’ve put together a list of the best pencil sharpeners for colored pencils, along with a buyers guide and FAQ section to provide you with all the decision-making information you need.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
AFMAT’s Electric Pencil Sharpener combines efficiency with control through its effective blade mechanism and multiple sharpness settings.
Suitable for 6-8 mm colored pencils, this sharpener uses a helical steel blade that can sharpen pencils to a fine and even point in just 3 to 5 seconds.
This blade is also highly durable and is advertised as lasting for 4000 uses before dulling.
Please note that the required 4 AA batteries are not included and will need to be purchased separately. Alternatively, this sharpener can be powered using the included power adapter.
The AFMAT colored pencil sharpener has 3 adjustable sharpness settings: blunt, medium, and sharp. The settings are easy to adjust using the sliding switch, which is easily accessible on the side of the sharpener.
This sharpener has been designed to extend the lifespan of your pencils through its pressure-responsive mechanism.
When the pencil is fully sharpened, the sound of the motor changes and the resistance decreases, meaning your pencils are less likely to break in the sharpener.
The auto-stop safety feature ensures that this sharpener is safe for children. Once the shaving compartment is opened, the mechanism stops running, which means fingers will not get caught in the blade.
This sharpener is also available in a range of color options, including black, light blue, dark blue, and red.
- Uses helical steel blade
- Sharpens pencils in 3 to 5 seconds
- Blade stays sharp for up to 4000 uses
- 3 sharpness settings
- Convenient auto-start mechanism
- Pressure-responsive, pencil-saving mechanism
- Auto-stop safety feature
- Available in 4 color options
- Power adapter included
- Batteries not included
Next on our list is Prismacolor’s Premium Pencil Sharpener.
Prismacolor is one of the most well-loved manufacturers of colored pencils and other art supplies, and their premium pencil sharpener is no exception to their high standards.
This manual pencil sharpener is specifically designed to provide the best possible maintenance for Prismacolor’s own color pencils.
However, it is also suitable for use on other colored pencil brands, as well as pastel, charcoal, or graphite pencils.
The two sharpened steel blades which offer a choice of fine point or medium point sharpening. This means that you can tailor the sharpening to achieve the point that works best for your artwork.
Because this sharpener is manual, it also allows for added control over the sharpening process, meaning that you can be extra gentle with your colored pencils.
The translucent body of the sharpener allows the user to see when it is full. The lid is also fully removable, making it easy to empty and clean when needed.
- Specifically designed for Prismacolor colored pencils
- Suitable for all colored, pastel, charcoal, and graphite pencils
- Durable, sharpened steel blades
- Two blades for fine or medium point sharpening
- Manual design allows for added control
- Translucent body shows when the sharpener is full
- Fully removable lid for easy emptying and cleaning
- Lid can be difficult to remove the first time
- Some report of lid breakages
Jelly Comb’s Automatic Pencil Sharpener has a lot of great customer reviews due to its superior efficiency and practicality. Its construction is similar to that of the AFMAT sharpener.
This battery-powered charger is suitable for both colored and softer lead pencils and can sharpen pencils in as little as 3 to 5 seconds.
However, please be aware that the required batteries are not included with the purchase of this sharpener.
The stainless steel, helical blade of this sharpener rotates around the still pencil, doing all the work for you.
Jelly Comb’s sharpener is designed with generous dimensions of 4.9 x 3 x 2.2 inches, which allow for a sizable shavings reservoir.
This feature is useful for regular or full-time artists, and for bigger projects, as it means the sharpener needs to be emptied less frequently.
In terms of safety, this sharpener is up there with the best of them. The auto-stop mechanism stops running as soon as the cover is removed, making it safe for children to use.
As an added bonus, the Jelly Comb automatic sharpener is available in a range of colors, including gorgeous pink, purple, and green pastels, as well as classic white, black, and dark blue.
- Suitable for colored and soft lead pencils
- Sharpens pencils in 3 to 5 seconds
- Uses stainless steel, helical blade
- Large shavings reservoir
- Auto-stop mechanism for safety
- Available in a range of 6 colors
- Batteries not included
- Not suitable for larger-than-average pencils
This colored pencil sharpener from EcoElectronix is a highly versatile and efficient tool for sharpening your colored pencils to a high standard.
The EcoElectronix is suitable for colored, pastel, and regular writing pencils.
The outer construction is made of impact-resistant plastic to withstand extensive use. This feature also makes it an ideal choice for very young artists or classroom environments.
This sharpener can be powered in 3 different ways: through 4 AA batteries (not included), a USB cable (not included), or an AC power adapter, which is included with the purchase. These multiple powering modes make this a versatile and convenient sharpener.
The helical blade operates on 3 sharpness settings for a choice of blunt, medium, or sharp points.
This design includes an LED indicator light to let you know when your pencil is fully sharpened and the auto-off feature shuts off the mechanism once optimal sharpness is achieved.
Additionally, the incorporated safety feature stops the mechanism from working as soon as any part of the sharpener is removed.
- Durable, impact-resistant construction
- Suitable for colored, pastel, and graphite pencils
- Helical blade mechanism
- 3 different powering options
- 3 sharpness settings
- LED sharpness indicator light
- Auto-off feature
- Safety feature stops mechanism when blade is exposed
- Batteries not included
- Some reported complaints about durability
Bostitch’s Twist-N-Sharp pencil sharpener combines the versatility and adjustability of electric sharpeners with the control of a manual design.
This is another extremely versatile sharpener that can be purchased in packs of various sizes and is suitable for many different kinds of pencils, from colored pencils to standard graphite pencils, and even makeup pencils!
For a manual sharpener, Bostich’s Twist-N-Sharp incorporates many settings and specialized technologies.
The premium ratchet technology allows you to twist your wrist back and forth to sharpen the pencil, which is easier than the method required for most other manual sharpeners, which require a full rotation.
Bostitch has also used its patented Tip Saver technology in the design of this sharpener. This technology stops you from over-sharpening your pencils, extending the lifespan of your supplies.
The easy-to-use setting dial, meanwhile, allows you to choose between blunt or pointed pencil tips.
The dispenser draws of these sharpeners are attached to the body of the sharpener, so you don’t need to worry about losing them when you empty or clean your sharpener.
The standard 3-pack that this sharpener comes in includes 3 different colors: orange/red, pink, and blue. However, this sharpener can also be purchased in 2 pack or 6 pack options.
- Suitable for graphite, colored, and even makeup pencils
- Premium ratchet technology for easier sharpening
- Patented Tip Saver technology extends pencil lifespan
- Includes blunt and pointed top settings
- Attached dispenser drawers
- Standard pack includes 3 colors
- Only suitable for standard-sized pencils
- Dispenser draws can be difficult to open
Best Pencil Sharpener for Colored Pencils Buying Guide
Manual or Electric?
Manual and electric colored pencil sharpeners both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Neither is objectively better than the other, hence why we’ve included both types on our list.
However, depending on your personal preferences and the specific type of colored pencils you use, you may find one sharpening method better suited to your needs.
The great thing about manual sharpeners is that they offer you full control over the sharpening process. This is especially useful when sharpening colored pencils because they are more delicate.
Using a manual sharpener means you can be extra careful, minimizing the risk of accidentally damaging or breaking your colored pencils.
On the other hand, some buyers find using manual sharpeners to be a slower, more tedious, and generally less efficient process. Most manual sharpeners (though not all, as the Bostitch sharpener demonstrates) also lack the inclusion of different settings.
An electric or automatic pencil sharpener makes for quicker and more efficient sharpening. They also often have multiple settings, meaning that you can rely on the mechanism to achieve your desired sharpness for you.
The downside to automatic sharpeners is that they may be more likely to break the tip of your pencil, especially if the core is particularly delicate.
They also require either batteries or power cables for operation, which can be a pain since batteries tend not to be included and the use of a cable restricts your movement.
As the main feature of any pencil sharpener, the blade(s) are one of the most important components to evaluate.
There are several angles from which to consider pencil sharpener blades, including material, quantity, and mechanism.
Steel (or stainless steel) is the typical material used in pencil sharpeners due to its durability and resistance to damage.
Electric sharpeners tend to operate on a helical mechanism, which facilitates rotary sharpening with minimal effort on your part.
Alternatively, manual sharpeners either use standard sharpening, where you physically rotate the pencil in the blade compartment or ratchet technology, which just requires you to twist the pencil back and forth and is generally considered to be easier.
Ultimately, the sharpening mechanism you choose will come down to what you personally prefer - there’s no wrong answer here.
Finally, you’ll need to consider how many blades you want your sharpener to include. A two-blade sharpener can be useful for providing different sharpness levels. However, this can also be achieved with single-blade sharpeners that include multiple settings (see below).
Most commonly found on electric sharpeners, but also present on some manual sharpeners such as the Bostitch model, multiple settings can be extremely helpful when it comes to tailoring the sharpness of your pencil.
This is especially useful for delicate colored pencils since multiple features allow for an added level of control over the process.
The multi-setting sharpeners on our list include either 2 or 3 sharpness settings, so you can choose between simply blunt or sharp, or blunt, medium, and sharp point options.
Again, this decision is entirely up to you and should be based on your artistic needs.
We’ve briefly touched on this already, but it’s worth reiterating that electric colored pencil sharpeners have different power options.
Most include the option for battery power, although batteries are not included in the purchase.
If you don’t want to purchase batteries separately, many electric sharpeners also have the option of USB or AC adapter powering. Where an AC adapter can be used to power this sharpener, this will often be included with the purchase.
However, as we mentioned earlier, the use of a cable will restrict your movement and may not be ideal during travel or commuting.
You’ll need to weigh up these power options against your own preferences and requirements before deciding on a sharpener.
It’s important not to forget that sharpeners are potentially dangerous pieces of equipment, especially for children. After all, the main feature that allows them to sharpen pencils effectively is a sharp blade.
With electric sharpeners, look for automatic safety or ‘auto-stop’ features. These will prevent the mechanism from operating if the blade is exposed or part of the sharpener is missing. This significantly reduces the risk of injury when using the sharpener.
These features are particularly important for sharpeners that will be used by children. However, accidents happen to the best of us, so even if you’re an adult looking for an electric sharpener for yourself, safety features are a good idea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a regular sharpener for my colored pencils?
Using a regular pencil sharpener is one of the most common causes of premature damage to colored pencils.
As we’ve mentioned, colored pencil cores are much softer than graphite cores. Therefore, they require a sharpener that combines a particularly sharp blade with delicate handling to ensure gentle, yet effective sharpening that won’t damage your pencil.
A sharpener designed primarily for graphite pencil usually won’t be sharp or gentle enough to sharpen your colored pencils to a fine point without causing other structural damage.
Therefore, we definitely recommend investing in a color-safe pencil sharpener rather than using your old graphite pencil sharpener on your colored pencils.
Is a color pencil sharpener worth the money?
Sharpeners for colored pencils can often cost a little more than regular pencil sharpeners. This is because, generally speaking, more engineering work has gone into their construction to make them suitable for these kinds of pencils.
The slightly higher prices can be a bit offputting, but as we’ve already mentioned, a specialized pencil sharpener is essential for keeping your colored pencils in good condition for as long as possible.
It’s also important to remember that colored pencils aren’t exactly cheap either. If you’re willing to pay more for good-quality colored pencils, it makes sense to shell out a little extra for a sharpener that will extend the lifespan of your art supplies.
Moreover, as shown by the products featured on our list, a color-safe pencil sharpener doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are plenty of budget-friendly options that will help you to maintain the condition of your colored pencils without having to spend too much.
WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.
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