Caran d'Ache Sharpener Review
Caran d'Ache Sharpener Review
At this point, I don’t think it is any secret as to how much I love Caran d’Ache and the products I have reviewed and used from them thus far. One item however that has eluded my reviews has been the Caran d’Ache Sharpener. I have seen it many times on Amazon or eBay and also on the many occasions I visit the Caran d’Ache website, but when I tried to look up detailed reviews of the sharpener, the only one I could find was of someone unboxing the item, no narration or any details.
So I decided, especially given the price of this item, that I had to purchase one for review purposes, I felt it was very important to show all viewers and subscribers of The Art Gear Guide the features of the sharpener and try to determine if it is worth the large expense, if it offers something other less expensive sharpeners don’t. Before I continue with my review, I feel it is also important to highlight that this is Caran d’Ache’s top of the line sharpener, they do sell other much less expensive ones.
As you can see from the images, this is a Caran d’Ache Hand Crank Sharpener, in fact I think it is also referred to as the Caran d’Ache Matterhorn Sharpener. The description that Caran d’Ache has printed on the box of this item is as follows.
The Caran d’Ache rotary pencil sharpener has become a cult accessory. For more than 80 years, its precision of execution, robustness and design has appealed to generations of pencil lovers. On an office table, a school desk or at home, it is the essential tool for high quality and optimum sharpening.
The first thing I noticed as soon as I removed the sharpener from the box was the weight, obviously I have only had the item a few days and so cannot attest to the longevity of such a sharpener, however, given as Caran d’Ache quite rightly state on the box, the robustness of this sharpener, it will last your lifetime and beyond. This is clearly a well made product, the quality of the sharpener is just so simply apparent, as is the case with so many Caran d’Ache products.
I have a few other hand crank sharpeners, which I will be adding into a future comparison video of sharpeners, however what I noted was the desk clamp options on the Caran d’Ache sharpener, allows for the user to position it anyway the like on their desk. The other hand crank sharpeners I have do not allow for this. I am aware that this is not the case for every sharpener.
The over all design and aesthetics of the Caran d’Ache Sharpener is really quite iconic, Caran d’Ache actually refer to the sharpener as “Cult” on the box which is again something I would agree with. I would say most of us of a certain age, say those at least with a date of birth year in the 70’s and before, when think of a desk sharpener, this is the type of design they would conjure in their minds. But design unfortunately in this economic climate is not enough on its own to justify such an exuberant purchase, so lets keep looking.
The sharpener has a setting allowing the user to determine if they want a really sharp point or if they would prefer a dull core on their pencil or colored pencil. This is a really nice feature especially for colored pencil artists, when the process of burnishing is required, this is best done with a dull core, simply due to the fact a lot of pressure is required and a sharp core typically breaks. The device allowing for this feature to be applied is by the handle, in fact actually on the sharpener there is a sticker depicting the rotation needed for the required core length.
The slot in which the pencil is placed for sharpening has three metal teeth, that open and close when the two pincers at the top are squeezed and the mechanism extended, preparing for sharpening. Unfortunately, although not altogether earth shattering, the metal teeth when clasping the pencil in preparation for sharpening, small indentations are left round the barrel of the pencil. This does not in anyway impair the ability of the pencil, nevertheless, if you are paying a lot of money for your pencils, such as the Caran d’Ache Luminance or the gorgeous Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle, you may not want their natural beauty tarnished.
I also tried to sharpen some Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils to see if the hexagonal barrels were effected as much with the metal teeth and they were. I also tested the blunt setting on the sharpener with a relatively sharpened core, as you can see from the images, the core was dulled, which is exactly what a colored pencil artist would require when burnishing as this process requires significant pressure being used on the pencil.
Next is the handle, incredibly smooth and free flowing action, some hand crank sharpeners that I have used, are quite challenging to use, stiff and jerky. Of course this may be more to do with the incredibly sharp and refined cylindrical blade. All hand crank sharpeners have this cylindrical styled blades as opposed to the single blade that you would typically find in a hand held sharpener.
Below the sharpening blade is normally a tray to collect the shavings and this Caran d’Ache sharpener is no exception. As I mentioned a lot of hand crank sharpeners have them, but some are really quite shallow, which means you are having to empty them every few pencils. Getting up and down to do this often during a project can be really frustrating, however the Caran d’Ache sharpener has a generous collection tray, reducing the emptying significantly.
On the sharpener I have, the pincers at the top of the device that you press to open the mechanism is a little bit tough to open. I don’t mean that it is ill fitting and causes friction or anything like that, far from it, the spring that causes the pincers to close the metal teeth around the pencil to hold it still and in place whilst sharpening is strong. In my opinion, someone suffering with arthritis in their hands or any other disability to their hands or wrists, may find this a problematic process.
Caran d’Ache Sharpener Pricing
There are three different colors of this gorgeous piece of iconic art, silver or gunmetal grey, which is the one I am reviewing, Red which is the one I would have really loved to purchase only I couldn’t find one at my time of purchase and finally a Rose Gold color, which is a limited edition, celebrating its 80th Anniversary. From what I have seen on Amazon or eBay, the Red and Rose Gold sharpeners seem to have a higher price tag.
I always give prices found on Amazon in this section of my reviews, however I am going to include the prices found of the Caran d’Ache website as well, just to illustrate that the different colored sharpeners are priced differently. At the time of writing this review, the Silver sharpener is £160 and the Rose gold or Burnt Gold as Caran d’Ache refer to it as is £210. It is worth mentioning that the excerpt for the Rose Gold sharpener states that this really is a collectors item, for those who really value design.
Here in the UK the Silver Caran d’Ache Sharpener would cost you £105 and the Rose Gold Sharpener would cost you £161 unfortunately at the time of writing this review I couldn’t locate the Red Caran d’Ache Sharpener on Amazon or the Caran d’Ache website
On Amazon US I was only able to locate the Caran d’Ache Rose Gold Sharpener which costs $350 I will of course continue to search for the prices and update the website as and when I find the full price list.
In Europe for the Silver Caran d’Ache Sharpener it will cost you €119 and the Caran dAche Rose Gold Sharpener will cost you €171 again, as with the US Amazon I was unable to locate the Red sharpener but I will update the website as soon as one becomes available.
Caran d’Ache Sharpener Conclusion
The main reason I wanted to do this review was originally due to the huge price tag attached to it. Most people are well aware of Caran d’Ache products and the price tag that comes with them, but it comes with them because of the craftsmanship and exceptional quality that also comes with them. The sharpener really puzzled me because there are many good quality hand crank sharpeners out there that cost a fraction of the Caran d’Ache price. I wanted to review this product to see if I felt it was worth the money, if it had a feature other sharpeners don’t or if it created a superior sharpened pencil.
There is no doubt about it that Caran d’Ache have priced this sharper with many aspects in mind and design is one of those aspects. All of us are aware of the fact that a certain table lamp, designed in a certain fashion with a big designers name attributed to it can cost thousands. Then you can walk into a high street store and find a table lamp almost exactly the same for £30 and in most cases, if both lamps were placed beside each other most would not be able to tell the difference. There is a bit of that with the Caran d’Ache Sharpener.
There is no doubt that the Caran d’Ache Sharpener will last you a life time, it is not going to break unless you drop it from the top of the Empire State Building, but you really have no business standing at the top of the Empire State Building with a sharpener lol. But the bottom line is, this sharpener, despite it’s absolutely gorgeous design and rugged robustness, does not do anything different that you won’t find on a £25 hand crank sharpener. It pains me to say it, but unless you are specifically after a beautifully designed sharpener to sit on your studio desk as a functional centre piece or talking point, then this is not the sharpener for you.
As I mentioned at the very beginning of this review, Caran d’Ache sell much cheaper sharpeners, one of which is a plastic hand crank sharpener, a hand held one a scraper which is perfect for pastel pencils and watercolor pencils and an electric sharpener, all of which are significantly cheaper than the product in this review. So if you are like me and just love all things Caran d’Ache and can’t get enough of their products and you must have a Caran d’Ache sharpener, you can still get one at a much cheaper price point. I have added a YouTube video review of this sharpener as well so you can see it being tested and demonstrated, follow the link to get a better understanding.