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

by David Rees, John Hodgman (Introduction)

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665180,945 (4.04)9
Member:hubcapiv
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
Rating:****
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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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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
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 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1937199.html

It mostly succeeds; it is the story of a man going through intense emotional crisis and working it out by writing a book about pencil sharpening, except that almost everything apart from the pencil sharpening has been taken out. Rees is good at capturing the tone of how-to manuals, especially when describing really obvious and easy tasks. There are a couple of points when he wanders far off-topic and the humour did not work for me, even taking it as intentionally ironic. On the other hand, I loved the sequence about how best to help your friend use an electric pencil sharpener (by breaking into their house and smashing it). I suspect that most readers will dip into it rather than go through from start to end, and that may be best. ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Jun 7, 2012 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Reesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"
Dedication
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.
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Reveals the secrets of manual pencil sharpening in a humorous manifesto.

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