One of the most important tools you will need for your colored pencils is a sharpener. Pencil sharpeners can be operated manually or by a motor. They can have a blade or helical cylindrical cutters.
Tip: Prolong the life of your sharpener by using a graphite pencil in your sharpener to clean the blade from residue left behind from colored pencils.
A prism sharpener, or manual, or pocket, does not have any moving parts. It is a block-shaped sharpener with a blade attached. It has a guide hole where the pencil is inserted into a point-shaping cone. The pencil is rotated in the sharpener to create a point. The blade of the sharpener removes the wood and tips of the pencil. The shavings exit along the blade's edge.
Manual sharpeners can be enclosed in a container to collect the shavings. Some are hand-cranked like a helical.
Helical cylindrical cutters are usually powered by a hand-crank. The pencil is inserted in one end the crank is turned in the other. The crank moves the helical cutters around the pencil creating a point. Some models will have one cylinder, others two. These sharpeners are also known as planetary sharpeners.
Electric sharpeners work the same way as a manual or hand cranked sharpener works but are powered by an electric motor. They can either be plugged into an outlet or run on batteries. The blade inside can either be a prism or a helical.
Tip: I keep a small piece of steel wool next to my sharpener when I am working. After I finish sharpening a pencil, I give the sharpened area a couple of wipes on it to remove loose crumbs from the lead and shavings.
It is important that the hole of the sharpener fits the pencil. If the hole is too large, it will cause wobbling. This can create uneven sharpenings or can break points. If it is too small, the pencil will not fit.
The razor knife is another method of sharpening pencils. The wood is cut away, the tip formed into a triangle. It takes practice without breaking the lead.
Sandpaper is sometimes used to refreshen a point. The pencil is rubbed across sandpaper until a point is formed.