Before I was a pencil nerd, I was a film photo nerd. Taking photos on film was my original analog pleasure. Of course, I remember when I was a kid and all photos were taken on film. Then things started going digital when I was a teen in the late 90’s and early 00’s and I was quick to jump onboard, first by getting my film scanned to CD rather than prints, later by buying a scanner so I could have the “best of both world”, then finally by becoming the first among my friends to own a digital camera. Eventually things kind of came full-circle in the 2010s. At one point I noticed that people had started putting bad filters on digital photos to make them look more like film. It kind of hit me how silly it is to make poor imitations of film photos when I can just take photos on film to begin with. (Believe it or not, I’m going somewhere with this).
So, even though pencils are my latest analog nerd craze, film photography has a special place in my heart (and as an aside, the lack of good sunlight for taking blog photos now that it’s winter in Alaska is killing me, so please excuse the crappy office lighting in these pics). Needless to say that when I saw the Deli 668 sharpener — cleverly disguised as a small twin-lens reflex camera — I kinda had to have it. But, cuteness aside, is it a viable replacement for the Deli 610 or the Carl Angel 5? That was the question on my mind as I dug in for this review.
I’m just writing a quick post to share this funky vintage gem I found at the local Goodwill store: the Berol Premier Vacuhold APSCO sharpener!
It was almost like it was communicating with me telepathically. I originally passed it up on the office supply aisle (my favorite aisle, obviously) but I just had a certain feeling that I needed to go back and look underneath a random pile of junk. So I did, and…voila!
I’m sure you can imagine what a quick trip to the grocery/big box/etc. store looks like for me. “Yeah babe, I’ll run out and grab some bread, be right back!” I tell my partner as I run out the door. An hour later I return with the bread…and a handful of random crap from the art and/or office supply aisles.
That’s more or less how I ended up with the X-Acto Vacuum Mount manual helical pencil sharpener (sidenote: I’ve also seen this or a similar product marketed as the “bulldog”). A quick pop into Wally World for some Oreos to comfort my beloved after she sprained her ankle necessarily included a trip down the office supply aisle. I’ve pretty much picked that joint clean of anything that looks promising or even interesting, but occasionally new surprises pop up, and I’ve been curious about hand-crank helical sharpeners as a happy medium between noisy electrics and bladed hand sharpeners. And there she was: the X-ACTO vacuum mount manual sharpener for the low, low price of eight bucks. Sold!
It may be somewhat of a faux pas for a pro-analog pencil snob to use an electric sharpener, but I’m not trying to hear all of that negativity. For one thing, I push pencils for a living. Sometimes I’m working with a pencil and I just need the damn thing to get sharp. It doesn’t have to be an “experience”. Yeah, yeah, stopping to smell the flowers and all. Try telling that to the people I’m billing by the hour. Better yet, tell that to my brain that will wander off into the weeds if I break my focus for more than a nanosecond.
It also occurred to me that a reviewer of pencils should strive for consistency in methods. I put a lot of thought on ways that I can remove variables from my reviews and make my testing more objective. Although I do a hand-sharpening test for every pencil I review, I conduct the rest of the process using an electric sharpener. Electric sharpeners simply make a more consistent point than I can by hand, and that way I’m making apples-to-apples comparisons.
OK, now that I’ve hopefully talked my way out of being ostracized by the pencil community, let’s get down to meat and potatoes. My go-to electric sharpener is the X-ACTO Mighty Mite, which I own in two versions: one that plugs in to AC power (model 19520), and one that is battery-operated (model 19510). I’ve been using these on the daily for a few months, and think I have a pretty good handle on the pros and cons of each. And, because it’s the thing that I do, I’m going to share my thoughts on the Mighty Mite with you, dear reader.