04 July, 2013

How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, and Civil Servants [Louise, Central Library]


"You may think that sharpening a pencil is easy, but David Rees makes it look hard, and that makes all the difference."
- John Hodgman, writer

I cannot tell you what inspired me to pick up this book, but until I read How to Sharpen Pencils, I had not fully considered the skill required to correctly sharpen a pencil.  Frankly, I was ill equipped.  I failed to warm up adequately beforehand, I was using an ineffective technique, and I was ignorant of the right tools needed to get my pencils to a high standard of writability.  And this is the entire point (ba-dom chhh!) of this book: sharpening pencils.  It is over 200 pages long, with no less than seven chapters on how to properly use various pencil sharpening tools and their effects on the point of your pencil.  No detail is too small – in fact, the details are nothing but small: consider, for example, a whole chapter (with diagrams!) on Pencil Anatomy.  Who knew there was a name for the metal bit that holds the eraser on?  I’ll tell you who knows: David Rees knows.  (I’ve forgotten).

If you use a pencil in your work, study or even just recreationally, then its effectiveness as a writing tool depends on you reading this book.  But, should you feel that your pencil sharpening skills are not up to the task, then you can always post your pencils to David Rees in New York where, for a small fee, he will artisanally sharpen it for you, and send the perfectly pointed pencil back to you with the shavings carefully labeled in a Ziploc bag.  This would be the most perfectly sharpened pencil you will ever see, which is why most internet commenters seem to prefer to frame the pencil, rather than use it.

How to Sharpen Pencils is earnest and thorough to the point of hilarity.  Hands down, the best book about sharpening pencils I have read this year.

Title: How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, and Civil Servants
Author: David Rees
ISBN: 9781612190402 (hbk.)
Published: c2012
Publisher: Melville House

 - Louise, Central City Library

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