February 16, 2012

The world’s best pencil sharpener teaches his secrets


David Rees, the world’s best and only artisanal pencil sharpener, came to Brooklyn on Monday, and gave the audience at Pete’s Candy Store an hour-long demonstration on the many techniques involved in sharpening #2 pencils.

The audience didn’t know what to make of Rees at first, but after being lead through two chapters from his forthcoming pencil-sharpening manual, How To Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise On The Artisanal Craft Of Pencil Sharpening For Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants with Illustrations Showing Current Practice, the crowd was clamoring for more. During the Q&A session, one audience member asked why cedar is the preferred wood in pencils, and another asked Rees opinion of mechanical pencils (Rees, quoting his chapter on the subject: “Mechanical pencils are bullshit!”). One audience member waited until the crowd had cleared and then paid Rees the $15 fee to have his pencil sharpened.

Gothamist and The Brooklynian were there to capture the master at work, with the Gothamist posting a video of Rees guiding a young woman through the steps involved in using a handheld Alvin Brass Bullet single blade pencil sharpener.

Notes the Gothamist:

By our estimate, [Rees] has made around $10,000 from his pencil sharpening business… But the man knows an awful lot about pencils.

Some commenters at The Gothamist seemed perplexed. One wrote “I read the whole article….twice…and I still don’t get it. : ( Sorry.”

Which makes us wonder… IS AMERICA READY FOR A BOOK EXPLAINING HOW TO SHARPEN PENCILS? Or will people be content to keeps sharpening in the same slapdash uneducated ways they’ve been doing it for centuries?

We’ll find out April 11th, when Rees launches his national pencil-sharpening lecture tour with an event at Barnes and Noble’s Union Square flagship store with Amy Sedaris.