Electric Pencil Sharpener Repair

This Fix-It Guide on electric pencil sharpener repair tells how an electric pencil sharpener works, what often goes wrong, how to identify an electric pencil sharpener problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to disassemble an electric pencil sharpener in order to test the electrical cord and motor. It then refers to electrical cord repair and motor repair guides for specifics on electrical cord and motor repair.

How Does an Electric Pencil Sharpener Work?

Electric Pencil Sharpener Repair

Remove fasteners to access the inside of the electric pencil sharpener.

An electric pencil sharpener is a small motorized appliance for sharpening or refreshing the points on lead pencils. Inside the hole, a small electric motor turns a blade assembly at high speed. The blades shave wood and lead from the pencil’s end, bringing it to a point. Most electric pencil sharpeners are powered through a 120V electrical cord, though some are battery operated.

What Can Go Wrong with an Electric Pencil Sharpener?

The most common problem with electric pencil sharpeners is clogs from wood and lead shavings. In addition, the electric cord can fail, the blade can become dull, and the motor can malfunction. Preventive maintenance (cleaning and lubricating) can dramatically extend the life of an electric pencil sharpener.

Fix-It Tip

Enclosed pencil sharpeners have a shavings tray where wood and lead shavings collect. Be sure to empty the tray often.

How Can I Identify an Electric Pencil Sharpener Problem?

  • If the unit does not operate when a pencil is inserted into the hole, make sure power is on at the outlet, then test the electrical cord and replace if faulty.
  • If the unit still does not operate, the problem could be in the motor. Test the motor and replace it or the device if necessary.
  • If the unit operates but does not cut a sharp point or seems very sluggish, the shavings tray may be overfilled and the unit plugged up in other areas. Disassemble the unit (see below) and use canned air to clean it out.
  • If the unit still operates sluggishly or does not sharpen well, the blade may be dull. You can try disassembling the unit and using a small file to sharpen the blades–or you can replace the unit.

Fix-It Tip

At least once a year, unplug, disassemble, and lubricate the electric pencil sharpener’s motor or shaft–unless it has sealed bearings. Check the owner’s manual.

What Do I Need for Electric Pencil Sharpener Repair?

It’s difficult to find replacement parts for electric pencil sharpeners because the devices themselves are so inexpensive. However, once you’ve disassembled the device you can clean out debris and even test the motor. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Screwdrivers
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Canned air
  • Multimeter

What Are the Steps to Electric Pencil Sharpener Repair?


Whenever you use canned air to remove debris, make sure your eyes are shielded by safety goggles. If you don’t have them, aim the air nozzle, close your eyes, then spray, opening your eyes again after 5 to 10 seconds when the debris settles. It’s not optimum, but it works.

 Electric Pencil Sharpener Repair

Sparingly apply lightweight lubricant to the motor shaft (not the electrical components).

Disassemble an electric pencil sharpener:

  1. Unplug the device from the electrical receptacle.
  2. Remove the shavings tray and empty it.
  3. If screws on the bottom attach the top and bottom covers, remove them with a screwdriver. If clips hold the covers together, use needle-nose pliers to un-clip them.
  4. Remove the covers and use canned air to blow away any debris from around the motor and blades.
  5. As needed, use a multimeter to test the electrical cord and motor .
  6. Reassemble components, covers, and tray.