A Plastic Utility Knife is handy for putting specialized points on your drawing pencils.

A Plastic Utility Knife can used to create specialized points that you might need during a drawing.

I would venture a guess and say that in the "good-ol'-days" a pencil was most often sharpened with some type of knife. It might have been a pocketknife, or hunting knife.

Because of the lack of complete control of a utility knife (sometimes called a "box-cutter") you should not expect to produce a perfect point on a pencil, particularly on a soft-lead pencil.

Whatever type of knife you use, it will need to be very sharp.

Types of Utility knives

Plastic-Cased Utility Knife

I prefer plastic utility knives because they are generally lighter in weight, and the least expensive.

The cutting ability is going to be the same for a plastic knife as it is for a heavier metal utility knife since both use the same blades.

Metal-Cased Utility Knife

If you want to spend a little more money, and get something with a little more heft, a metal-cased utility knife is what you will need.

They come in several styles and colors, and can be found very easily just about anywhere tools are sold

Since metal utility knives are intended to be used for heavier jobs than plastic the plastic-cased knives, they can be used for other jobs around the house.

Ergonomic Utility Knife

These utility knives are specially designed to fit the hand in such a way that using it will help to lessen the strain that can occur in your hand and wrist. Perfect for those of us that are starting to feel the effects of age in our hands.

This style of knife is not as easy to find, and will cost a bit more money.

I have even seen one in which you can turn the blade around and use it as a scraper. This would be perfect for sharpening a pencil as you are preforming the act of pushing the blade away from you.

Snap-off Blade Utility Knife

A "snap-off blade" type of utility knife has blades that...well... snap-off!

The blade is made to break off at the tip of the blade when the edge has gotten dull.

The process requires a pair of pliers and some eye protection (even if it's just turning your face away). Just grab the section of the blade that has become dull, and break it off. You now have a "new" blade!

Craft Knife

Craft knives are generally used for fine detail work. It's used by stencilers, scrap bookers, and anyone else who needs a precise way to cut something.

The blades come in several shapes, and are usually thin and tapered to a point. The handles can have the same shape as a pencil so that it can be griped in the same manner as a pencil.

For the serious crafter there are sets that contain a variety of blades for different uses.

These knives could be used for sharpening a pencil. However, because of the thin handle, your grip may be less than secure. There are versions that have bigger handles so that they are easier to hold on to when using them.

I understand that there are some artists that use a craft knife to scrape-away highlights when using colored pencils. I'd be afraid of damaging the paper. Maybe you could try it and let me know how it goes.

Find the knife that you feel the most comfortable with. Try them all and tell me how they work for you, I'd love to hear from you.


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