Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Review: Carl Angel-5 Royal Sharpener


The Carl Angel-5 Royal

A woodworker wouldn’t trim the pieces for fine furniture with an ax. Nor would a sushi chef saw a piece of premium sashimi with a serrated tomato knife. Tools are critical. 

How sharp a pencil is makes a significant difference in the result. Which is why I seem to accumulate so many pencil sharpeners: I’m always looking for the one that is going to get the job done in the best way possible. (And sometimes one sharpener will not suit all needs because different stages of a pencil might need different sharpeners.)

I reviewed a couple of excellent sharpeners at the Well-Appointed Desk: the Mitsubishi Uni KH-20 and the Carl Ein. I use the KH-20 in the kitchen, and the Ein is beside my reading/journal-writing recliner in the TV room. (What – you don’t have a sharpener in every room?) But the hand-crank sharpener with the place of honor in my studio is the Carl Angel-5 Royal.

The Royal is the step up from the basic Angel-5. Although I used the basic model for years, I was never quite happy with it. For one thing, it left unsightly bite marks on the pencil barrel where its teeth grip the pencil. But more critical, it could accommodate only standard-size barrels, which meant that I always had to use other sharpeners on some of my most-often-used colored pencils, like the Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle and the Derwent Drawing Pencil, both of which have slightly oversized barrels. When I heard that the Royal model would sharpen larger pencils and leave no bite marks, it was an easy decision.

The Royal’s point selector offers a range of point lengths. I use the longest point setting for graphite and hard colored pencils and the shortest for most other colored pencils. 

Point-length selector

It produces a stunning point each time. I am not afraid to use it even on delicate vintage pencils because I know the barrel will not be marred.

From top: Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle, Faber-Castell Polychromos, Mitsubishi Penmanship 4B, Palomino Blackwing

Alas, it doesn’t accommodate jumbo or semi-jumbo barrels. (For those, I still use my stalwart Bostitch QuietSharp 6.)

The only caveat needed with the Royal is its shavings-collection drawer. It slides out very loosely and freely – very. (Let me tell you, cleaning up a pile of shavings from the carpet is not my favorite task.) This surprises me a bit for a Japanese-designed product. The drawers on both the Uni and the other Carl model mentioned earlier have enough resistance that they wouldn’t fall out without a push.

Careful of the drawer, or you'll find the contents on your floor.

Even so, the Royal has become my studio favorite.

My Museum Aquarelles are happy, and so am I.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you -- I'm rather proud of those points myself!

  2. The sharpener looks sketch-worthy itself!

    1. You're right! I have sketched the one that I have since gotten rid of, but not yet this one!


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