The simplest things can be some of the best things. A perfect example of this is the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener (which also goes by the name KUM Metal-Stenograph, per their product catalog). For less than two bucks, you can have a pencil sharpener you can take anywhere and produce an awesome long and sharp point that will rival many larger and more expensive sharpeners.
KUM is based in Germany and has been manufacturing a variety of school and office products for over 90 years. They are known for their outstanding quality, and the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener is no exception. It has been my “go to” sharpener for months. I use it several times a day, and it always produces an outstanding point. Now that I’ve become accustomed to a long pencil point, I have a hard time going back to a “standard” point.
I own many other pencil sharpeners1, but the practicality and effectiveness of the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener is tough to beat.
Appearance & Specifications
The KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener is small. It’s dimensions are 3.1 cm long, 2.0 cm tall and 2.0 cm wide and has the shape of a rectangular block. If you’ve ever used a single-hole handheld pencil sharpener, you have a general idea of its size. Its portability makes it the perfect everyday carry (EDC) sharpener for the woodcased pencil user.
Being made of solid magnesium (except the blade and screw), it is super lightweight. Another feature it has is concave sides with recessed grooves, so it’s comfortable to hold and use. A nice unadvertised bonus (that I heard from Johnny Gamber on the Erasable podcast) is you can use it as a fire starter since it’s made of pure magnesium. Magnesium shavings scraped off with a (sharp) knife can be ignited with a spark. The KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener would be a good choice for the “official” pencil sharpener of the zombie apocalypse. Obligatory disclaimer: I only endorse the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener for its intended purpose of producing long beautiful pencil points– starting fires and zombie defense should be left to professionals.
The 8 mm diameter (for “regular” size pencils) opening gives access to the most important part of the sharpener… the outstanding (I’ll even go as far as “best in class”) KUM blade. It’s a stainless steel blade that still seems as sharp as the first time I used it. The mounted blade looks so simplistic, but KUM designed and built a blade and attachment method that excels at its sole purpose. In their product catalog, KUM gives a thorough description of their blade technology:
“KUM blades consist of precision (laser-controlled) sharpened high carbon steel that is razor sharp. These blades are hardened to over 62 HRC, which is much harder that the steel used for quality kitchen knives (approximately 55 HRC) or scissors. KUM blades are mounted with a screw – not riveted or clamped. This also allows the blades to be replaced with our spare blades. KUM is the only manufacturer worldwide to use curved blades. We call this: Dynamic Torsion Action.”
I’ve yet to have to replace the blade, but it seems easy enough by removing the small Phillips-head screw. I did find spare “long point” blades for sale at PencilThings.com. The cost ($3.50 for three as of this post date) seems high compared to the cost of the actual sharpener with one blade ($1.95 at Pencils.com as of this post date). However, based on my experience, those three replacement blades would enable you to produce some sharp long points for quite some time.
Performance & Comparisons
As I mentioned earlier, I use the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener all the time. I’ve sharpened all kinds of pencils with it, and it’s a workhorse. It makes excellent long points over and over again.
I’ve only had a few negative sharpening experiences, and they are by no means a fault of the sharpener. I’m just sharing my experiences in case these specific situations arise for you.
I’ve noticed that sharpening a Tombow 2558 HB isn’t the most pleasant experience. I’m a big fan of the pencil, and despite the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener giving the usual nice point, the sharpening process, for lack of a better term, is rough. I’m not sure if it’s the wood, graphite or relatively thick (and wonderful) paint job, but there is something unique about the Tombow 2558 that provides an atypical sharpening experience. The next time I get another batch 2558s, I’ll see if the trend continues.
I’ve also encountered some point breakage when sharpening a General’s Layout pencil. I blame my technique on this result. The General’s Layout has an extra-thick graphite core, and comes pre-sharpened with a short point, which is ideal for this type of pencil. I just love a long point, and I enjoy writing with a General’s Layout pencil, so a long point is best (at least for me). The KUM gives it an impressive long point, and as I’ve sharpened more of them, my technique must be improving, since I’ve experienced much less point breakage. My advice for this specific pencil/sharpener situation is to have patience and slow things down a bit.
The other thing I’ve seen involves my beloved Palomino Golden Bear. It doesn’t happen too often, but sometimes when sharpening a Golden Bear, there is some “splintering” where the graphite point meets the wood. Basically, a little wood is removed at the graphite/wood juncture, and there isn’t a smooth transition from the graphite point to the wood surrounding it. It is very minor, doesn’t happen all the time, and it has no effect on the resulting point. It is purely cosmetic.
I have several different types of pencil sharpeners, so I selected a few and sharpened a bunch of Palomino Golden Bears to show how the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener compares.
The KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener is so good, I want to buy enough to put them everywhere I may ever need to sharpen a pencil. It is my favorite portable pencil sharpener.2 For some crazy reason, I only have one, and I tote it back and forth from home to work. I’ll leave it at work or home every now and then, and it actually bums me out a little when I don’t have access to it.
I recommend the KUM 1-Hole Long Point Sharpener without any hesitation.3 Its combination of compactness, durability, price and amazing point it produces makes it hard to beat. Just don’t make the same mistake I did… get a couple (or few).