How to Sharpen a Pencil without a Sharpener?

Imagine you are in the middle of a test in your class and suddenly your only pencil gets snapped! To your utmost surprise, you find you have forgotten your sharpener at home and now, you just cannot think of any alternative that might work like a sharpener.

To make you see a silver lining to this very fact we will serve ideas about how to sharpen a pencil without a sharpener! Always remember one thing that, there is always another way of every way. If you are a school student you might face this problem very often.

Sometimes, it becomes unpleasant when you are really in hurry to copy all the lectures from your teacher. However, by following the advice we have given below, you can easily and successfully avoid this unwanted situation.

Also Read: Top Mechanical Pencil for Your Drawing

How to Sharpen a Pencil without a Sharpener?

There are several ways to sharpen your pencil without a sharpener. We will discuss them one by one and you will also learn some more relevant things as well.

Sharpening Pencil Using Sharp Objects

Many times you may not have a sharpener with you but you may find some sharp objects on your desk. Let’s see how to sharpen a pencil with a knife and other sharp objects.

1. If you don’t have a sharpener but have a utility knife, then nothing would be a better option than this. You can simply use the knife-edge for this purpose. Just operate the knife back and forth of the pencil tip until a sharp nib appears. But you have to be careful while using a knife to sharpen your pencil otherwise, unwanted accidents might take place.

2. A pair of scissors is also a good solution to this problem. Make sure before you start scraping the scissor is wide opened. If you are a right-handed person, make sure you hold the pencil in the right hand. This way you will force the pencil over the sharp edge of the scissor.

3. You can also use a ruler with a sharp edge and its hole to make the nib of the pencil more precise. As in the school, you will not be allowed to carry any x-acto knife or scissors so, a ruler can be the life savior. Most rulers do not come with a sharp edge. Yet, the metal ones may help you out in this case.

Make sure you rotate the pencil with each stroke so that you get an even nib. To have a pointy nib, put it through the ruler hole. Again, if you force the pencil throughout the hole, the wood of the pencil will reveal the graphite and by doing things continually, you can get a sharpened pencil.

4. Again, you can also sharpen your pencil using a keyhole or a head screw. You might always carry a key or a screw might be found if you look around. Most keys empower an edge that is fairly sharp and their holes are also sharp. Again, if you place your pencil on the screw top and keep rotating it clockwise, you will get graphite from it.

So, these are the tools you can certainly use if you do not have a dedicated sharpener to sharpen your pencil. But you have to be careful enough while using these as most of them may lead you to some unexpected situation. However, letting the main job by your dominant hand can lessen the risk.

Things you must keep in the head!

  • You must not take a scissor or knife to your school or places where it is strictly prohibited not even for the purpose of using them as a pencil sharpener.
  • When you are using a knife for sharpening the pencil, make sure you keep it back in an absolute safe position.
  • Hold the pencil by your dominant hand and hold the knife or scissor by your non-dominant hand.
  • Do not face the blade or knife towards your body and do not force these tools too much and unnecessarily over the pencil.

Rough Surfaces Might Also Help

To speak the truth, rough things are way better tools for sharpening things. And pencils are not any exceptions. They can also be sharpened using some of the rough objects. Those are given below:

Sandpaper: Sandpapers work extraordinarily to sharpen a pencil. In your shop class, you will always find sandpapers, even if you don’t find any sharpener for them. The simple task is to rub the pencil over the rough surface of the paper and rotate it according to the even revealing of the graphite. Soon you will get a sharper tip.

Brick and Rock: If you are outside and get literally nothing to be done with your pencil sharpening, then get a brick or rock. They possess extremely rough and hard surfaces that will help to build a great structure of a pencil.

Sidewalls of a Building: In case you are outside and have nothing special to sharpen your pencil, get to any sidewall of a building and start rubbing pencil edges on it. It will make the pencil tip sharper and longer. The blacktop pavement and the concrete work great to sharpen a pencil tip.

Nail File: Definitely a great tool to count on. You will find a nail file inside the bag of every girl. It will work as a grinder while sharpening the pencil. Only by the back and forth motion of the pencil, you can get a pointy pencil.

So, these are options you can go with as the rough surfaces. Only the gentle rubbing on these surfaces can get the exact point you want in your pencil. This way you know how to sharpen a pencil without breaking the lead.

Smooth Surface Can Also Help

If you just need a sharper and pointy tip and do not know how to sharpen a pencil for drawing without a proper sharpener then try a smooth surface. Using a regular paper piece you can do this. Just keep sketching lightly on the paper holding it at a proper angle of 30 degrees.

Turning the pencil every few sketches, at a certain point of time, you will find the tip as pointy as you have desired. Again on a folder of paper, you can simply slide the pencil tip from left to right and right to left. This way the tip will lose some graphite being grinded, so, you will get a pointy and sharp tip.

Ever Tried Sharpening a Carpenter’s Pencil without a Sharpener?

Carpenter’s pencils are way different from a regular pencil. They are rectangular-shaped, unlike the hexagonal-shaped regular pencils. They possess an easy holding property with way dense leads that allow drawing both thick and thin lines.

A regular standard sharpener is not meant to sharp this type of carpenter’s pencil. However, a utility knife or a chisel will sharpen this pencil very well.

Holding the tool at an angle of 45 degrees, you have to first whittle off both the narrow sides. After being done with the narrow sides, you have to take care of the wide sides.

When you are done with the chisel, to make the tip sharp you can use sandpaper or any rough surface.

You Are Handed with None of These Sharpening Objects?

If you are on your utmost bad luck and do not find any sharpening tools we have already suggested above then you are left with only one option. You can still use your nail or teeth. But, confirm if you are confident enough to do it with your teeth and nails.

This seems a bit unhygienic and you may swallow some of the wood and charcoal of the pencil throughout the process. Also, you will not have a very pleasant experience if your teeth get discolored or you end up hurting your nails.

Better you go for your shoe sole that has a quite rough surface and will work enough to sharpen your pencil. Keep rubbing the dull tip of the pencil against the sole until you get your expected tip.

Isn’t Prevention Is Better than Cure?

Always try to keep a backup pencil with you if you are a man with too much pencil work. Also, if you don’t have any, you can ask it others. Again, you can think of other writing implements like a pen if using the pencil is not mandatory.

Then again, keeping a mini sharpener always along with your pencil won’t cause much suffering.


No matter if you are a school guy or an adult one, you have to deal with a broken pencil very often. Though the problem seems totally ignorable yet when it actually comes you want to get rid of it real quick. It becomes a great challenge and you start to find alternative solutions.

Hence, to avoid such problems with your pencil, you can follow our suggested ideas until you come up with any other new ideas! Always, remember that every problem has more than one solution and you can go for anyone that seems to you convenient enough!