4 ways to sharpen your pencil without a pencil sharpener at school

4 ways to sharpen your pencil without a pencil sharpener at school
4 ways to sharpen your pencil without a pencil sharpener at school

Imagine that you are in the middle of an exam and your pencil breaks or is not sharp enough to write correctly. However, the teacher made it clear that no one was allowed to leave their desk. You may also be out and about practicing drawing when your pencil, your only drawing tool, suddenly breaks. What can you do ? Keep calm, all is not lost!


Method 1 of 4: Use a rough surface

Step 1. Use sandpaper

You may be in a situation where you don't have spare tools handy and you just can't borrow a pencil. So you need to be imaginative. If you find a rough surface to rub the tip of your pencil on, you can sharpen it without a problem. Sandpaper works well in this kind of situation.

  • If you are in a workshop class, you will easily find a piece of sandpaper. Of course, you're unlikely to have any on your table or in your bag, but if you're used to breaking your pencil and your teacher is known for not letting students leave their desks, consider some. keep one with you.
  • You just have to rub your pencil against the rough surface of the sandpaper, taking care to turn it regularly. You will quickly sharpen your pencil.

Step 2. Use a nail file

You are probably more likely to have a nail file with you. It is also useful to have an emery board on you or on your desk. Indeed, you will have the opportunity to file your nails and sharpen the tip of your pencil!

  • The rough grain of the emery board will do the job perfectly for sharpening the wood of your pencil and sharpening its graphite. All you need to do is rub the edge of your tool against the file, rotating it regularly.
  • If you have a nail clipper, be aware that most of them have a file that can be deployed. It should be rough enough to sharpen your pencil.

Step 3. Rub your pencil against a rough structure

If your pencil breaks and you don't have a sharpener (or a nail file or sandpaper), look around: are you sitting next to a brick wall? Are you on the pavement or on the concrete?

These rough surfaces will help you out of your predicament. You will be able to sharpen the end of your pencil by rubbing it hard enough on the paving stone, against a brick wall or even on the mortar between the bricks

Method 2 of 4: Use a sharp object

Step 1. Use a knife or scissors

If you have a utility knife, x-acto blade, or pair of scissors handy, you may be able to sharpen your pencil with a little effort. Simply scrape its end with the sharp edge of one of these tools.

  • If you are using scissors, open them as far as possible. Hold the blade (scissors or knife) firmly in your non-dominant hand and the pencil in the other hand.
  • The pencil will be tilted at approximately 45 °. Pull the pencil towards you while pressing the wood and the graphite against the blade, still at an angle of 45 °. Rotate the pencil and do the same until you get a sharp enough end.
  • DO NOT point the blade at you. On the contrary, you have to keep it still and move only the pencil.
  • DO NOT take an x-acto knife or blade with you to school, although it will always be handy in such a situation. This article only suggests the use of these tools if they are available and if the school regulations allow them (in workshop class or in plastic arts class).

Step 2. Use other sharp objects

You are unlikely to be allowed to carry a knife or x-acto blade, and you may also not have scissors with you. So look for tools that can serve as sharp objects.

  • For example, the edge of your ruler should be sharp enough to help you out, especially if it's a metal ruler (even some plastic rulers do the trick and there is no harm in doing so. to try).
  • Hold the ruler firmly in your dominant hand and rub the pencil carefully and gently along the ruler. Twist the pencil after two strokes and you will be able to sharpen it.

Step 3. Spin your pencil through the hole in your ruler

Most rulers have a hole for them to hang from tri-ring binders. If this is the case for yours, you can use this hole to push back the wood of your pencil and make the graphite appear underneath.

Once you have pushed the wood back (or removed some of it), you will have the option of sharpening the tip of your pencil by rubbing it along the rough surface of the hole or by looking at the section on how to sharpen. only the end of the graphite

Step 4. Use the edge of your key and / or the hole in your key

Most metal keys have a sharp edge and a hole for hanging them on a keychain. In the blink of an eye, you can turn your key into a makeshift pencil sharpener.

  • If the tip of your pencil is completely broken and you no longer see graphite, first use the key hole to push back the wood.
  • Once the graphite appears, you can rub it gently against the sharpest side of your key until it is possible to write again with the pencil.
  • The end result will not be the best, but it will be enough for you to complete your assignment or what you are writing.

Step 5. Use a screw

Suppose you have no nail file, no scissors, no ruler, and no wrench! What can you do ? Inspect your chair and desk for a Phillips screw (you should have a cross instead of a single line on the head of the screw).

  • If you can easily reach the screw, leave it in place and rest the tip of your pencil on its head. Turn your pencil clockwise and it should be enough to cut the wood and reveal the graphite.
  • If you find a loose screw, you can sharpen your pencil on the side of that screw. However, it is not advisable to remove any screws: you probably don't want to fall off your chair or desk!

Step 6. Use a nail clipper

If you have a nail clipper in your pocket or on your desk, use it to get you out of this situation. We talked about the possibility of using the nail clipper file above, but even though the nail clipper doesn't have a file, it is still useful.

You just need to sharpen the end of your pencil to remove the wood. It will be even more effective if you hold the pencil horizontally with your non-dominant hand and use the nail clipper vertically with your dominant hand. The sharp end of the tool will line up with the wooden end of the pencil

Sharpen Your Pencil at School Without a Sharpener Step 10

Step 7. Use your nails and teeth

If you can't use your fingernails and teeth as tools, you should be able to use them to push back (or gently nibble) some of the wood on the pencil. Once you have enough graphite to start working again, all you have to do is sharpen it using the few tips listed in the article.

Be very careful not to swallow pieces of wood. Also, avoid ingesting graphite, not because it's poisonous like the old pencils were, but because it's not good! In addition, you risk discoloring your teeth

Method 3 of 4: Use smooth surfaces to sharpen a pencil

Step 1. Sketch a few lines on a piece of paper

If you haven't completely broken off the tip of your pencil and just want to sharpen it, you can rub it very gently on a piece of paper.

Your pencil should be almost flat against the paper. Tilt it about 30 ° and sketch fine lines by rotating it regularly

Step 2. Rub your pencil on a cardboard folder or piece of paper

The technique is slightly different from the previous one: you have to tilt the pencil at the same angle on a cardboard folder or a piece of paper and perform back and forth movements to create a friction (imagine that you are trying to blacken a small end of the leaf).

The pencil should be as flat as possible against the paper. You need to run it frequently. A bit of the graphite will appear, which will allow you to obtain a longer and sharper point

Step 3. Rub the tip of your pencil against the sole of your shoe

If you don't want to write on your paper or don't have a cardboard folder handy, you can rub the tip of your pencil on the rubber of your sole.

Once again, don't forget to rotate your pencil and not to squeeze it too hard or you risk breaking it or damaging it entirely

Method 4 of 4: Always be prepared

Sharpen Your Pencil at School Without a Sharpener Step 14

Step 1. Have spare pencils

If the tip of your pencil breaks completely, there is little chance that you will be able to sharpen it again. The best solution in this kind of situation is to have emergency pencils available.

The smartest trick in the event of a broken pencil is not to try to sharpen it, but to always carry at least two pencils in addition to what you think you need

Sharpen Your Pencil at School Without a Sharpener Step 15

Step 2. Borrow a pencil

If you don't have a pencil sharpener, you can always count on the sympathy of a classmate. It is even possible that someone gives you a pencil without you having to say anything: all you have to do is sigh while holding the broken pencil. Hopefully one of your neighbors will notice and agree to lend you a pencil.

Be careful not to make your situation worse by speaking during an exam or important assignment. You certainly don't want to have other problems or harm your neighbor by forcing him to speak to you. You both risk failing your exam or your assignment

Sharpen Your Pencil at School Without a Sharpener Step 16

Step 3. Use a mini pencil sharpener

If you have a tendency to break your pencils or quickly blunt their tips because you press too hard while writing or drawing, have yours on your desk or in your pocket so you don't have to ask for and use the local pencil sharpeners. others.

You can find mini pencil sharpeners at any office supply store or specialty store. You can also use a makeup pencil sharpener (which is typically designed for sharpening lip pencils and eyeliners)

Sharpen Your Pencil at School Without a Sharpener Step 17

Step 4. Write with another tool

As long as you don't pass a standardized test that requires the specific use of a pencil, you will be able to use a pen or even a colored pencil to complete your work. Hopefully your teacher will be understanding.


  • Be careful when asking your classmates for help. Even if you think and hope that the teacher or supervisor will understand the reasons why you are talking to another student (get another pencil), understand that they will have no other recourse but to follow the rules to the letter.. You and the person you're talking to will both have problems.
  • It is impossible for your teacher to know if you were cheating or not. He certainly won't want to be the first to let students talk to each other on an exam. Know that it is better to fail an assignment than to be fired from class or lose a friend.
  • Do not bring any object likely to be considered as a weapon or prohibited by the school's internal regulations: pocket knife, etc.

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