Best Sharpener for Colored Pencils in 2023

best sharpener for colored pencils

Here’s our review of the best sharpener for colored pencils in 2022

The best sharpeners are durable, have sharp blades, and work well with colored pencils. It can be very frustrating to buy a sharpener only to find that it breaks apart your colored pencils.

As an artist, I’ve had my fair share of bad sharpeners. To help save you the trouble, I’ve spent a few days researching and finding the best sharpener for colored pencils.

I found that the Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener is the best hand-held sharpener for most artists. The Bostitch QuietSharp is the best electric sharpener for colored pencils.

At the same time, some other sharpeners are more budget-friendly or more suitable for special needs. 

Let’s take a close look!

Best Overall
Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener
  • Choose between wide angle and fine point
  • Great for soft-core colored pencils
  • Good for kids
Best Electric
Bostitch Antimicrobial QuietSharp Glow
  • Heavy duty and lasts a long time
  • Replaceable blades
  • Relatively quieter
Best Budget
Jarlink Electric Pencil Sharpener
  • Can be plugged in or use battery
  • More affordable than other electric sharpeners
  • 1-year warranty

What to consider when picking a sharpener for your colored pencils

Here are the key factors to consider before choosing the best sharpener for colored pencils:

Manual or Electric

One of the main things to consider first is whether you want a hand-held sharpener or an electric sharpener. Generally, hand-held sharpeners are more affordable. They’re also exceptionally great for colored pencils since you have greater control. You get to control how sharp you want your pencil to be. You also won’t be breaking your colored pencils as often if you apply the proper technique.

Electric sharpeners used to be bad for colored pencils in the past since they can easily damage and oversharpen your pencils. But they have improved significantly over the years.

If you find that you tend to use your colored pencils a lot, an electric sharpener might be better. They’re a bit more expensive, but they sharpen really fast and save you a lot of time. They also tend to last a lot longer than hand-held sharpeners. Electric sharpeners are also great if you share your sharpener with friends or family. 

The only downside with an electric sharpener is that you won’t have as much control over your pencils. They also tend to break your colored pencils a bit more easily. If you use wax-based colored pencils, the wax can also build up inside the sharpener and damage it. But, this can be easily solved by sharpening with graphite pencils to clean the blades out.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention hand-crank sharpeners, that’s because you should avoid them! Hand crank sharpeners are notorious for destroying colored pencils. You tend to oversharpen your pencils using them. The vibration from using it can also damage the core of your pencils.


There are a few ways to determine quality, but the most important factor is durability. Good electric sharpeners can often last over a year (as long as you don’t abuse them) and often come with a warranty. Hand-held sharpeners tend to have shorter lifespans, but they’re cheaper so you can replace them more often.

Another factor of quality is the sharpness of the blade. A good sharpener should have a sharp enough blade that requires little pressure. A dull blade gives you little control and can often damage the core of your pencil. Your sharpener’s blade is sharp if your shaving comes off in a nice long strip. When the shavings start to become short and sharpening becomes difficult, it might be time to replace your sharpener. 

Lastly, a good hand-held sharpener should feel great in your hands. It should be easy to grip and use. Some sharpeners are smaller and more difficult to grip, but they’re better for traveling.

Number of holes

Some hand-held sharpeners come with two holes which allows you to pick between a wider or narrower angle. The wide angle gives you better coverage which allows you to lay down colors easily. The narrow angle allows you to sharpen your pencils into a fine tip which is great for details.

Electric sharpeners are usually less versatile in this aspect. They often sharpen your pencils to a sharp point even when they have a sharpness setting.

Size of your pencils

If you’re using larger-sized pencils, be sure to check that the sharpener you want to buy can accommodate the size. The size is usually measured by diameter in millimeters (mm). I’ve included the size range for sharpeners that provided one.


If you’re tight on budget, consider getting hand-held sharpeners that come in packs. The ones I’ve included on this list are all highly rated and work great for colored pencils. At the same time, you can also consider getting the Jarlink Electric Pencil Sharpener which is more affordable. Electric sharpeners tend to last longer, come with a warranty, and can actually save you money in the long run.

Replaceable blades

Some higher-end electric sharpeners and hand-held sharpeners have replaceable blades. An example of this is the Bostitch Antimicrobial QuietSharp. This can help save you money since the blades cost only a fraction of the price. At the same time, it’s often easier to just replace the whole thing if you’re using more affordable options.

Shavings reservoir

If you don’t have a trashcan near your art space, you might want to get sharpeners with a shaving reservoir. Some hand-held sharpeners don’t have one so it’s a bit more inconvenient. The size also matters because smaller ones force you to empty them out more often. Lastly, a transparent shavings reservoir also lets you see when you need to empty it out.

8 Best sharpener for colored pencils reviewed

Sharpeners come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Here’s our review of the best sharpeners on the market:

1. Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener – Best overall

The Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener is one of the most popular sharpeners on the market (and for good reason!). This sharpener is designed specifically to sharpen the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, but they work great with other colored pencils of a similar size.

It comes with two holes where you get to choose between a wide angle or a fine point. The wide angle is designed for coverage so you can lay down colors easily. The fine point is designed for finer details. These options give you a lot of flexibility and control over your colored pencils.

The one main downside with this sharpener is that opening the shavings reservoir is not that intuitive. But, you can easily learn how to open it by simply watching this YouTube video. Another downside is that it might not work well for colored pencils with a larger diameter.

Choose between wide angle and fine pointOpening the lid is not very intuitive
Great for soft-core colored pencilsNot for bigger colored pencils
Great for standard-sized colored pencils
Good for kids

2. Jarlink Electric Pencil Sharpener – Best budget

The Jarlink Electric Pencil Sharpener is a great choice for electric sharpeners if you’re on a tight budget. The price is very reasonable, and it’s designed to sharpen over 3,000 times. It also comes with a 1-year warranty if you run into any issues.

This electric sharpener comes with all of the main features you need. It has an auto-stop function so you don’t have to worry about over-sharpening your pencils. It also has a safety shutoff feature that turns off the sharpener when you open the shavings compartment. 

Another unique feature of this sharpener is that you can use 4 AA batteries instead of plugging it in. This makes it much more convenient because you don’t need a power outlet. You can still plug it in and use it if you want to.

The only downside with this is that they’re not meant for heavy usage. If you share the sharpener with a lot of people, you might want to consider other heavy-duty models.

Can be plugged in or use batteryNot meant for heavy usage
More affordable than other electric sharpeners
Autostop when sharp
Safety shutoff features
1-year warranty

3. Bostitch Antimicrobial QuietSharp Glow – Best electric sharpener

The Bostich Antimicrobial QuietSharp Glow is a higher-end, heavy-duty electric sharpener. The blades have a long lifespan, and you can buy replaceable blades. This makes it perfect for classroom or studio use, or if you sharpen a lot of pencils.

The Bostich QuietSharp comes with six-hole sizes for a wide variety of pencils, even triangular ones. The sharpener feels heavy and sturdy, and it has a big shavings reservoir so you don’t have to worry about emptying it out very often.

This sharpener has an auto-stop feature and lights up when your pencil is sharp. It also has a safety shutoff function where it won’t start if you remove the shavings tray. It is designed to handle both graphite and colored pencil, even soft-cored ones. Lastly, it comes with a limited 7-year warranty, but this doesn’t cover normal wear and tear.

The one main downside of this sharpener is that it’s quite expensive compared to other options. It’s also a bit big and bulky if you have limited desk space. You do need to plug this in so keep that in mind as well.

Heavy duty and lasts a long timeExpensive
Replaceable bladesA bit big and bulky
Relatively quieter
Autostop with light indicator
Safety shutoff
7-year warranty, not including normal wear and tear

4. Staedtler Double Hole Pencil Sharpener

This Staedtler Double Hole Pencil Sharpener is a great sharpener that can handle colored pencils of different sizes. The smaller hole can sharpen up to 8.2 mm pencils and is designed for clear and accurate lines. The larger hole can sharpen up to 10.2 mm pencils and is designed for broader, softer lines.

This sharpener is designed to handle a wide variety of pencils: graphite pencils, large pencils, colored pencils, and even makeup pencils. The lid also has a safety lock so you don’t have to worry about spilling your shavings all over your desk. This sharpener is perfect for kids because it’s easy to use and the blade is inside.

The only downside with this sharpener is that the shavings reservoir is a bit difficult to open. It takes some time to get used to, and younger kids might have trouble opening it.

Has two holes for different sharpness and sizesShavings reservoir is a bit difficult to open
Lid with safety lock prevents spilling
Good value for the price
Great for kids

5. AFMAT Electric Pencil Sharpener

The AFMAT Electric Pencil Sharpener is quite a popular sharpener that has great ratings. It sharpens your pencils at a fast speed (3 seconds for used pencils and 5 seconds for new pencils). It has an auto-stop function and a heavy-duty blade that is designed to sharpen over 8,000 times. You don’t have to worry about using it often, and it also comes with a 1-year warranty.

One main advantage of this sharpener over other electric sharpeners is that it can sharpen a wide range of pencil sizes. It has a broad range of 6 to 12 mm in diameter. It’s also designed to sharpen colored pencils.

This AFMAT electric sharpener does have a blunt and sharp setting. But, some users did mention that the difference between the two settings is a bit small. Another downside with this is that the autostop function kicks in a bit slowly. If you’re not careful, it can eat away more of your pencils. Keep in mind that you do need to plug this into an outlet.

Slimmer design, great to put on your deskVery small difference between blunt and sharp setting
Sharpens your pencil very fastAutostop kicks in a bit slow – eats away more of your pencils
Works great for a wide variety of pencil sizes
1-year warranty

6. Staedtler Metal Double Hole Sharpeners

A great, affordable sharpener for adults is the Staedtler Metal Double Hole Sharpener. It also offers a single-sharpener pack, but this pack of two tends to be much cheaper. It’s quite affordable when compared to other options. It’s also high-quality and rated quite well.

This sharpener has two holes for different-sized pencils. The smaller hole can sharpen pencils with a diameter of up to 8.2 mm while the larger hole can handle up to 10.2 mm. The smaller hole is also better suited for finer details.

The only downside with this is that it doesn’t have a shavings reservoir so it’s a bit inconvenient to use if you don’t have a trashcan nearby. It’s also not suitable for kids because of the exposed blades.

Great basic sharpenerNo shavings reservoir
Very affordable
Great for traveling

7. Alvin Brass Bullet Sharpener

The Alvin Brass Bullet Sharpener is a high-quality sharpener with a unique design that’s made in Germany. This sharpener has a unique bullet-shaped design and is made of brass. The brass feels nice and heavy in your hands. 

The ergonomic design of knurled finger grips also makes it easier to hold when sharpening. It’s also great for gifts because of its unique design. Lastly, it’s great for traveling since it’s quite small. You can fit it nicely in your pocket or in your pencil bag.

The downside of this sharpener is that it’s slightly more expensive than other hand-held sharpeners. Some people also mentioned that it’s quite small and can be difficult to handle if you’re a bit clumsy (like me) or you have some issues with your hands.

Great for travelingSlightly more expensive
Unique design – great for giftsNo shavings reservoir
Sharpens well
Feels great to hold

8. Bostich Office Twist-N-Sharp

Another great, affordable sharpener is the Bostich Office Twist-N-Sharp. It’s quite affordable when you buy it in a 3-piece pack. This sharpener is great for kids because the blade is inside, and it has a patented Tip Saver technology. The Tip Saver technology helps prevent your kids from over-sharpening and your colored pencils will last longer. The colorful design is also great for kids.

This sharpener is quite small which is great for traveling. There’s also a blunt or sharp setting that you can adjust. Lastly, the shavings compartment’s drawer is attached so you don’t have to worry about losing the lid.

While this is a great sharpener, there are a few drawbacks that you should consider before buying. The shavings reservoir is a bit small which can be annoying because you need to empty it often. Some people also mentioned that it’s a bit hard to empty and takes getting used to. This sharpener also can only handle standard-sized pencils, so don’t buy it if you have larger pencils.

Good value for the pricesmall shavings compartment
Great for kidsNot suitable for larger pencils
Small and great for travelingA bit hard to empty shavings
Prevents you from oversharpening
Attached shavings compartment drawers – never lose them

How to properly sharpen your colored pencils

The first step is to make sure that you pick the correct-sized hole. Next, insert your pencil into the hole and make sure it’s snug. Then rotate the pencil sharpener, not the pencil. A lot of people make the mistake of rotating the pencil which causes more stress on the pencil and can damage the core. It also helps to hold the pencil vertically when you sharpen rather than horizontally.

Be sure to check that your blade is still sharp. The easiest way to check is to see if your shaving comes off in a nice long piece. If your shavings are all short and disconnected, your blade might have turned dull. 

Clean the blades regularly if you use wax-based, soft core colored pencils. This applies to both hand-held and electric sharpeners. You can simply sharpen some graphite pencils to clean your blades. Or you can use a Q-tip to clean them out. 

Be gentle and don’t apply too much pressure. Colored pencils tend to have softer cores than regular graphite pencils so you need to be gentle with them. This is especially true with electric sharpeners. Don’t just jam it in and hope for the best.

Check how sharp your pencils are and do it often when you sharpen your pencils. This helps prevent over-sharpening which can damage your pencils. Some electric sharpeners have an autostop function, but you can stop them ahead of time to prevent oversharpening.

Our Verdict

A great sharpener should be durable, and it shouldn’t damage your colored pencils when you’re using it.

At the same time, everyone’s needs are different. That’s why I’ve included a wide range of choices that are all great for colored pencils.

From my research, I’ve found that the Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener is the best hand-held sharpener. If you’re looking for an electric sharpener for your colored pencils, the Bostitch QuietSharp is a great choice.

Be sure to also check out our guide on the best colored pencils for artists.

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