Pencil Sharpener Needs A Good Cleaning
June 12, 2013 9:22 AM   Subscribe

I have a vintage Boston "L" wall-mounted, hand-cranked pencil sharpener (the closest example I can find is the top one on this page). It doesn't rotate smoothly anymore and the mechanism feels a bit gummed up (possibly because someone used it to sharpen her eyebrow/eyeliner pencils, but I admit nothing!). What's the best way to give it a good cleaning?
posted by amyms to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
Best answer: Pop the cover off and scrub gently at the mechanism with an old toothbrush and some WD40, turning it slowly all the while so every bit of the gears get cleaned and lubricated.

(this is how i recall, with startling vividness, my kindergarten teacher doing it)
posted by elizardbits at 9:25 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, elizardbits. I have an ancient can of WD40 around here somewhere, but will it clean away the (alleged!) eyebrow/eyeliner pencil residue or should I use something else first?
posted by amyms at 9:38 AM on June 12, 2013

Best answer: WD-40 or any household oil (mineral oil if you have it, or Goo Gone, or just cooking oil) should dissolve the waxy pencil residue. If you want, you can then use rubbing alcohol or vodka to remove the WD-40.
posted by payoto at 10:00 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Make-up and grease pencils usually have an oil emulsion base, so WD-40 would be fairly effective for cleaning. I'd avoid heavier oils for cleaning, as they could likely leave residues.

Afterwards, you'll want to add a drop or two of light oil, like sewing machine oil or bike chain lube to the point where the rotating parts meet the frame. Then sharpen a bunch of pencils: graphite itself is a very good lubricant.
posted by bonehead at 10:19 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Right on for the WD-40 treatment, but be aware that if you've inherited this from a public school, and it is actually vintage, your edges may hardly be sharp enough to get a good pencil point anymore. You wouldn't think these things would wear out, but they do. Heaven knows they got their workout in my classrooms.

*yes, I was the kid who would break off the point repeatedly so that I could stand and go look out the window while I sharpened my pencil. God, busy work was booooring!
posted by BlueHorse at 11:05 AM on June 12, 2013

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