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How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical &…

How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the… (edition 2012)

by David Rees, John Hodgman (Introduction)

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1046116,035 (3.93)10
Title:How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants
Authors:David Rees
Other authors:John Hodgman (Introduction)
Info:Melville House (2012), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants by David Rees



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Hilarious. Not worth reading all the way through, despite that. I'm not sure anyone intended that anyone else actually read the thing though, so maybe that's not a real weakness. ( )
  valzi | Sep 7, 2016 |
My weirdness becomes very apparent when you see me with my pencils.
  diovival | Oct 14, 2013 |
Pencils are awesome. ( )
  MichaelDC | Apr 3, 2013 |
From David Rees:
If this book serves any purpose, let it be as the definitive counter-argument to my teacher’s conspiracy theories {that my constantly going to the pencil sharpener was an attention-getting tactic}: Mr. Stewart, it was always about the pencil point.

I was thrilled a couple years ago when New Yorker shopping maven Patricia Marx took readers on a back-to-school spree for supplies, and have enjoyed using Mirado Black Warrior pencils ever since.

So I was thrilled again to learn of this book by Rees, an artisan dubbed “the number one #2 pencil sharpener.” I wasn’t sure if it was satire or serious, so I borrowed a copy from the library just to see, and before I knew it I’d read it through. It’s serious! -- somewhat -- he even operates a pencil-sharpening business, and he treats the subject with the precision of an engineer (cubed) and with humor, including footnotes that rival Mary Roach.

Rees begins with the anatomy of a pencil, including problem pencil points and how different points are suited to different jobs (see photos on my reading thread). He follows with physical warm-up exercises, then to the how-to of sharpening. His methods include pocketknife; single- and multiple-blade pocket sharpeners; and single- and double-burr crank sharpeners; and his accessories include an apron; tweezer; sandpaper and emery boards; protective tubes and pencil-point caps; baggies (to return the shavings to the customer); and bandages. The chapter on mechanical pencils is short (fulltext: “Mechanical pencils are bullshit.”) and the one on electric sharpeners is long (including how to identify which houses have them, how to gain access, and how to destroy them using safety goggles and a mallet).

I'm neutral about the chapter on sharpening pencils with your mind, skipped most of the chapter on celebrity-impersonator sharpening, and found many of the b/w photos too dark with too little contrast to see well. I wanted more about the (inside) engineering of burr pencil sharpeners (how they actually work) though overall was impressed that I came away knowing about both burr- and razor-sharpeners. And came away very entertained. ( )
5 vote DetailMuse | Aug 28, 2012 |
A usually-amusing treatise on exactly what the title suggests: pencil sharpening. Offers an overview of different kinds of sharpeners and the best techniques for their use, with a plethora of diagrams and photographs. The bits on electric sharpeners and mechanical pencils were probably my favorites (no spoilers here; read the book). John Hodgman provides a foreword. ( )
  JBD1 | Jul 12, 2012 |
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David Reesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hodgman, JohnForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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The simple physical artifact multiplies the power of the individual.
—Henry Petroski, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance
For Margaret and Philip Rees, the sharpest people I know.
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Just as a chef always travels with his or her favorite knives, a professional pencil sharpener—or serious enthusiast—should always have his or her tool kit ready at hand.
Don't trust a pencil sharpener who doesn't offer to return your shavings. The shavings are part of your pencil, after all, which means they are your property.
It also behoves us to remember the adage that "Whenever a member of our modern world sharpens a pencil using a pocketknife, he or she moves forward and backward through time simultaneously": forward, insofar as the knife is deployed concurrently with the world's temporal flow and anticipates a future state of affairs (i.e., the sharpened point, itself suggesting astronomer Arthur Eddington's "arrow of time"); backward, as the persistent movements of the knife function as pistons in a nostalgia-engine which delivers its user to the distant past.
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Reveals the secrets of manual pencil sharpening in a humorous manifesto.

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