One feature on Facebook is called "So Mexican", devoted to various aspects of Mexican life and culture. One of my favorite posts there was a picture of a young woman holding one of those fast food hard shells with hamburger meat in it. She has a bit of a sneer, and the caption says, "Please stop calling these tacos."
A recent post showed a pencil being sharpened with a pocket knife. That struck a chord of recognition with me, because that's how my dad sharpened pencils, and that's how I do it. My family is about as Gringo as it's possible to be, so I suspect the practice is more generational than ethnic. Am I the only one in this bunch, or do any of you other geriatric cases whittle your pencils?
I do that, and I'm only 25. Just too cheap to buy a pencil sharpener, I guess.
because of arthritis I use a carpenters pencil. Its wide flat design is easier to hold and sharpens easily with a bench grinder
That's one of the main reasons I carry a jack knife, Steve. There are no pencil sharpeners where I do woodworking, and I'm quicker than the sharpener anyway.
I used to until I got a wall mount pencil sharpener in a box of office items at an auction. It's mounted in the shop. Handy as all get out but I have trouble finding my pencils.
The box also had one of those old mechanical pencil sharpeners. The type you insert the pencil in the top and rotate to sharpen the lead. Hadn't seen one of those since drafting class.
I've always had a jackknife in my pocket and always sharpened pencils with it.
Cleans fingernails too!
Have to admit when I'm in my shop I just hit pencils on my belt sander.
No, I twirl it against the side of the bench grinder wheel. Makes a very fine point!
I use pens.
I use a pencil sharpener when one is handy, usually not the case. Otherwise, I use my pocket knife.
I also use the pocket knife to clean or trim finger nails, lance boils, remove splinters and other minor surgery.
I'm constantly amazed at the number of grown men who walk around on the face of this planet without a pocket knife. I seem to drag mine out ever few minutes.
It torques me off that pocket knives have somehow been turned into weapons. I've carried one since I was five years old and it has never been anything but a tool.
I totally agree with Robert G H Jr! I hate having to remember on the rare occasions that I go where they are not allowed, to take the jack knife out of my pocket.
A side note. I have always preferred a smaller jack knife because it fits in the pocket nicer. But I lost my last one a couple years ago when I forgot and carried it where it was not welcome. (It was beat up and partially broken, so I did not try to get it back).
A few months ago, my mother found my dad's electrician's knife that he lost about a year before he passed on almost ten years ago. She said I should have it. It is larger than what I always preferred, but I carry it gladly. And I shall be very careful to remember to not take it where it may be confiscated. My dad always loved his electricians knife.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
And yes. Along with scraping gum off my shoes, cutting an apple, and turning screws in a pinch, I do sharpen pencils with my knife. Sometimes I skip the pencil and scratch where I need to cut with the knife itself.
I never use those bloody wood cased pencils...mine are all mechanical (the old style, button the works a collet that the lead is held by. Sand paper or a desk rotary sharpener are my main tools to giving me the point I desire.
Back in art school, Mr. Doree taught us how to sharpen an HB pencil with a razor-sharp "Christy Knife."
For drafting class, we used a 4H pencil and after we whittled with the knife, we put a needle-sharp point on the lead with a sandpaper block. Fortunately, the High School of Art & Design was populated by gentle, sensitive types and even our druggies were of the peace-loving, Grateful Dead variety, so, at least during the time I was there, no student ever raised a blade at another. I don't imagine such weaponry could be safely allowed in any of today's high-schools.
Curiously, historically the small clasp type knife was called a pen knife in some parts of the world. It was small and safe to carry, and its prime purpose was for shaping goose-feathers into writing quills. I believe that the wood-cased pencil was a later invention, but of course as most people carried a pen-knife, the same implement was employed to sharpen the pencils.
It is sad that today one has to be careful where one carries such a useful tool, as Wayne points out pen making and pencil sharpening are merely two of the potential uses. I can think of dozens of occasions when I have reached for my pen/pocket knife to open letters, cut open cardboard boxes, slice apples or pears, clean fingernails, scrape tobacco from a 'plug', and get bits of coconut from between my teeth.
Yep, I sharpen pencils with my pocket knife. My wife may have a pencil sharpener in her home office, but out in my shop, there isn't one. Pens and mechanical pencils don't work well in woodwork, IMHO, so wooden pencils it is.
Knife terminology kinda escapes me, though. What is a jack knife? And what is a pen knife? I assume a pen knife is a small pocket knife? I refer to any knife that folds up and is carried in your pants pocket as a "Pocket knife" or just a "Knife".
Also, how many have heard the superstition that if you hand someone your pocket knife folded, they should hand it back folded and if you hand it to them open, they should hand it back open? While I am not particularly superstitious, I realize some folks are and I do hand someone their knife back in the same configuration it was handed to me. I don't care how they hand mine back, but sometimes I will tell them the superstition if I think they have not heard it.
Funny you should mention that Steve. The store I used to work in didn't have one lousy pencil sharpener in it. Yes, I used to sharpen the pencil I used to do my shift report with a knife.
I found a pen knife near our office in the edge of the hood. It had probably been tossed, so I called the Sheriff. They said to destroy it, but I kept it, and it has since disappeared.
Open the normal cap, and you see a ballpoint. Open the other end, and you have a three inch knife.
As Robin would say, Whittle me this Batman.
It’s No Joke – Man Charges $15 to Sharpen Your Pencil by Hand
By Spooky on April 17th, 2013 Category: Funny
David Rees, a cartoonist, humor writer and self-proclaimed pencil sharpening artisan runs a truly unique business. He charges customers $15 to sharpen their pencils to perfections, using a variety of tools, from pocket knives to sandpaper.
I know what you’re thinking – is this a joke? The 39-year-old entrepreneur gets asked that question a lot, so to clarify everything he even created a special section on his Artisanal Pencil Sharpening website telling everyone that he’s actually providing a real service: “If you start a pencil-sharpening business, you can expect to hear this question a lot. The short answer? No, this is not a joke. You pay David Rees money and he sharpens your pencils. It actually happens.” You can supply your own pencil or you can have Rees sharpen his one of his favorite #2 pencils and ship it to you in a in a display tube with the shavings in a separate bag along with a certificate of authenticity that just happens to mention the pencil is so sharp it is considered a dangerous object. To achieve the desired result, the master sharpener uses all kinds of tools, including general sandpaper, pocket knives and even a special $450 sharpening machine. “It depends on what the client wants to use their pencil for,’’ he says. “That determines the most appropriate pencil technique. Some buy them as inspirational tokens, and others for nostalgic memories of classic No. 2 pencils. There also are journalists who prefer my pencils to pens especially in really cold weather because a pen will freeze up, whereas a pencil won’t.’’
$15 to have a pencil sharpened is a bit expensive though, right? You’re not the only one who feels that way, and David told TODAY.com that his unique business has angered a lot of people. “Sometimes people get really mad,’’ he said. “Some people will argue this proves how inequality is so insane in America that rich people will pay a guy $15 to sharpen a pencil, and then other people will say, ‘This is why we need to abolish the welfare state because if people just are entrepreneurs, they’ll come up with a business for anything.’’’ He admits his trade is a bit unusual, and expects people not to take it in the same spirit he does. But there are those who actually value his services, as proven by the over 500 orders he has gotten ever since he started Artisanal Pencil Sharpening in 2010. Although the business hasn’t been as successful as he originally thought it would be, the fact that so many people understood his service is no joke is heartening.
“In my original business model, I was going to be a millionaire,” David told New York Daily News. “I figured I would sharpen somebody’s pencil, they would use it, it would be dull, I would sharpen it again, and over the lifetime of a pencil I would get like $100.” But that’s not exactly how it all played out in the end. Because his work was so impressive, most of his clients didn’t even used the pens – they just put them on display. So until a year ago, he had had only five returning customers. He takes comfort in the fact that so far he’s had no complaints about the quality of his work.
Asked how he got the idea for his pencil-sharpening business, David Rees said the seed was planted in his head in the spring of 2010, while working with the U.S. Census Bureau. “On our first day of training they had us all sharpen pencils because the (census) forms have to be filled out in pencils,’’ he said. “So we’re all just sitting there sharpening pencils over a trash can, and I realized that sharpening pencils was really satisfying. It was something I hadn’t done in years. I told myself that I had to figure out a way to get paid to sharpen pencils because it was so much fun.’’ And before long, Artisanal Pencil Sharpening was born. To share his love for manual pencil sharpening with the world, David Rees even wrote a book on the subject, aptly called “How to Sharpen Pencils”. “I give away all my secrets. It’s fine with me if other people start their own pencil-sharpening businesses. If they think they can do a better job at a lower cost, then I say go for it. I welcome the competition,’’ he says.
Always had a pencil sharpener mounted over the water cooler. Same one for 70 years. Probably works out to $0.000000000000000000000000000002 per sharpening by now.
Never could get that whittling thing right. Always whittled more pencil lead than wood.
An alternative use for the pencil sharpener you aren't using to sharpen your pencils is putting a chamfer on the end of wood dowels to make it easier to get them in the holes.
When my father passed away and I had to go through his dresser for his Army dog tags (so he could have a flag), I found my old Boy Scout knife.
He had taken it from me a half-century ago when I was in fifth grade, in spite of the fact that I had passed the BSA's knife and axe test and was officially certified to carry. I remember wondering what this world was coming to when a Boy Scout couldn't be trusted with a Boy Scout knife. Turns out the world came to a much worse place than either of us could have imagined and now I'm not allowed to carry a nail-clipper (or even a bottle of water) onto an airliner.
“Some people will argue this proves how inequality is so insane in America that rich people will pay a guy $15 to sharpen a pencil, and then other people will say, ‘This is why we need to abolish the welfare state because if people just are entrepreneurs, they’ll come up with a business for anything."
The top 10% are doing just fine; the rest of us are sinking. Can the 10% support the rest on trivial trinkets like this? It's class warfare, and the great Middle Class that Henry inspired, is losing. It began even before Clinton's NAFTA, and will soon be overshadowed by Bush's secretive Trans-pacific Prosperity Partnership, which will become law with Obama's help. Bill Moyers had a good, depressing segment on TPP Sunday night.
For example, labeling foods as GMO and Country Of Origin will be outlawed.
The first time I saw a pencil sharpener was when I went to school. In my home they were sharpened with a knife. After all, it was a depression and why spend money unnecessarily on a pencil sharpener when it could be used to buy food?
Bob Coiro - Your post above prompted a thought; I wonder if you can purchase a "Swiss Army Knife" at Walmart, and if so, I wonder if it's made in China??? Hmmm......
I have for many years, carried a pocket sized Swiss Army Knife,....you know,.....the little one with the tweezers and toothpick built into the red handle. I use it very often and would miss it very much if I ever lost it.
Not to stray too much from this interesting discussion, but some time ago, I read a very interesting article on Swiss Army Knives. What impressed me most about the history of the Swiss Army Knife was the fact that if it was not made by Victorinox or Wenger, it would not be considered a genuine Swiss Army Knife. Atho' there have been some recent changes, mainly that Wenger has become a subsidiary of Victorinox, I think Victorinox would still be considered the "genuine" brand. Bob, your post caused me to wonder if the day will come when a new "Swiss Army Knife" will be made in China!
By the way, I should mention that I have no connection with any company that makes or sells Swiss Army Knives, or any other kind of knife. I just think the history of the Swiss Army Knife is interesting. And yes, I occasionally sharpen a pencil with mine, but also use if for many other things, and by the way, those little scissors, tiny as they are, are not a joke; i've found the scissor feature of my SAK to be very handy!
Great thread you started here Steve as it's promoted an interesting discussion, even if it has "strayed" a bit from pencil sharpening,.....harold
Bringing the thread back to sharpening pencils. For the perfectionist, this book is available from Amazon. I found it to be very interesting.
I use my belt sander to sharpen um.
What's the difference between a jack knife and a pen knife? If you stick your knife in Jack you get put in the pen and have to find a new Pen knife. Sorry,just couldn't resist. :-)
I do as Tom Carnegie and sharpen my pencils on the grinding wheel. For fine woodwork marking such as hand cut dovetail joints I use a sharp marking knife.
If I win the lottery, I'm going to hire someone younger with better eyes and steadier hands to do my marking for me. :-)
It's a Jack knife because it has a Jack Leg -- or folding mechanism -- in the middle.
Here's an off topic from an off topic. Single Jacking is holding the drill - or Jack - for the hammer man to hit when working a rock face in an underground mine. Double Jacking is holding the Jack so two men can hit it with their hammers. So to Double Jack you squat below the Jack, holding it above your head while two big miners hit it with their hammers to drill a hole in the rock. Single Jacking makes you deaf in one ear, a year of Double Jacking makes you deaf in both ears. You'd better have a lot of faith and trust in those hammer men, too. Single Jacking you mostly stand facing the rock face with the Jack on your shoulder while the hammer man strikes it from behind. That's faith. No wonder the miners drank.
Why would the guy use #2 pencils? They are too soft to do much before getting dull and the point breaks immediately. I use Dixon # 2.5 Ticonderoga pencils. Buy a dozen boxes of them every couple years. Still real Cedar so they smell good when you put a point on them and strong enough so the lead doesn't break the second you use it for something. Most other pencils are crap.
Swiss army knives are still made if Switzerland if they are Wenger or Victonox. I carry the little one about two inches long with the nail clippers built in. Had the last one for 20 or so years, tried to get on an airplane with it, how have a new one. I dunno if the blade is as good as the old one but it is exactly the same design. Handy thing to carry in your pocket.
A pen knife was used to sharpen the quill pens, they were small but sharp.
My grandfather installed a pencil sharpener in the kitchen for Grammy . Never used it, she still went over to the knife drawer and used her thumb to push the thin boning knife thru the wood. Drove gram-pa (an engineer) crazy.
I still have the mechanic/electrician knife that I bought at a sidewalk vendor in Saigon Viet Nam in 1971. I use it very often, including sharpening pencils. Dave