Getting a nice, long point on a pencil without having to use an elaborate or bulky sharpener is kind of a rare joy for writers. On the one hand, there are lots of desktop sharpeners that give a long point, but that would be kinda dumb trying to carry one of those around in your pencil case. On the other hand, there are tons of high-quality compact wedge, bullet, and canister-type sharpeners, but most of those make pretty short points. Among those that leave long points, many of them involve some sort of multi-step process. Of course, if you happen to be an artist with different types of pencil requiring different shapes of point, then things get even more complicated.
Kutsuwa’s STAD T’Gaal Multisharpener takes a crack at solving these problems by combining the flexibility of adjustable point length and the compactness of a bladed canister sharpener in one small package. With the turn of a dial, the position of the blade adjusts to allow for point angles ranging from “fancy long” to “mascara pencil small”.
I picked up one of those nifty-looking sharpeners to test out and see how effectively it manages to pull all of that off!
The T’Gaal Multisharpener features five point-length settings. These settings range from 1 through 5, with #5 being the longest. I gave each of them a whirl and found that the settings all have a discernible difference in the end product, except for perhaps settings 1 and 2, which are both comically stubby and don’t appear to be much different. While some artists may have a use for these settings, I imagine most writers will opt for settings 3 through 5, which correspond to a “standard” blade-sharpening and a long-point sharpening, respectively. The #5 setting is almost as long as the helical-blade points from sharpeners like the Carl Angel-5, or hand sharpeners such as the Kum Long Point.
These five settings — plus an option to close the trap door covering the hole where one inserts a pencil — are accessible by a dial on the front of the sharpener. The dial has a low profile and, other than some ridges on the slim side, is quite smooth. Its action is a little sticky. This makes handling it a little clumsy, but at least it’s not likely to randomly switch settings (or worse yet — pop the door open!) in your bag.
And that’s good, because the trap door is highly necessary. Forgetting to close it is a sure-fire way to get little shards of graphite all over the place. Once a length setting is selected, the door is always open, so it’s important to remember to twist it closed before storing the sharpener.
The actual sharpening process is great. The blade doesn’t abuse the pencil wood, and shears away the shavings of casing with relative ease. For the most part, the wooden collar and graphite tips are finished nice and smooth. I noticed the basswood Ticonderoga I used for the longest setting splintered away a bit around the throat, but the other four settings did no harm to their test subjects, so I’d guess that’s more of an issue with the pencil than the sharpener.
There are two aspects which combine to create a bit of a downside to this sharpener: the blade is completely enclosed in the opaque plastic casing, meaning you can’t see the sharpening happen; and there is no “stop” to prevent one from sharpening needlessly. This means that you can keep twisting and twisting and have no idea when you’ve attained the desired sharpness without pulling the pencil out and peeking.
If a person were sufficiently distracted, it would theoretically be possible to keep sharpening a pencil down to a nub in a single sitting. Except, of course for another downside: the shavings compartment doesn’t really hold a lot of shavings before needing to be empty. Sharpening a single, new, square-cut pencil to a #5 point nearly fills the thing to capacity.
All of that notwithstanding, I view the Stad T’Gaal Multisharpener favorably. When feasible, I still prefer the hand-crank desktop helical sharpeners I have, because they leave a slightly longer point that I find a bit cleaner and a bit easier to come by. However, I’m not about to cart one of those around with me on the move, and I’m always on the lookout for a good long-point hand sharpener. The T’Gaal Multisharpener really fills that role nicely. Yes, it has some drawbacks which I cited above, but those are minor annoyances. Even after wrapping up the info-collection phase of this review, I’ve found myself using it by default when I’m on the move, so that’s a pretty good endorsement.