There are so many cool ideas out there for office supplies, and I always find it fascinating because when it comes to something like a pencil or a pencil sharpener, I never think there is much room for improvement. When I was contacted by the people that make the gripsharp pencil sharpener, I was surprised yet again by the creativity of their product.
It is pretty easy to tell from just looking at the gripsharp how it is intended to be used. You simply insert the end of a pencil into the top and push it in until it wont go any further, and just start twisting it to sharpen your pencil. In addition to being a permanent addition to your pencil to act as a sharpener, it also helps to provide a nice meaty and noslip grip for you. As you can tell from the first photo, it comes in various colors.
The first thing I wanted to do when I got this was compare it with a regular pencil sharpener to see how quickly it sharpens a brand new pencil. I gave it a test and it turns out that the gripsharp does take a few more twists to get the pencil ready to go. With a regular pencil sharpener it took me 25 twists (not full rotations) and with the gripsharp it took about 42 twists. It was not evident as to why this was the case until after I took the pencil out of the gripsharp later on, but you will see the photo and reason why later.
Before I even mention writing with the newly sharpened pencil, you can probably already see one glaring difference between the regularly sharpened pencil and the one using the gripsharp, and that is that the lead itself is not sharpened to a point, instead the lead is left alone, and all of the wood surrounding the lead is stripped away. According to the manufacturer, this serves two purposes. First is that it creates a much more sturdy and durable writing implement, and the second is that it makes for a pencil that actually uses ALL of the lead instead of sharpening so much of it away.
If you look at the photo above, you can see that the sharpener does a great job of only removing the wood from the pencil, and it leaves behind all of the lead. Obviously you can only use this with a standard size pencil to get these results, and a fatter pencil wouldnt really fit through the top of the gripsharp anyway.
The most important (and fun) part of reviewing all of these cool office supplies is putting them to use. With the gripsharp, it goes against my personal preference to have a super fine writing implement, so I had to adjust to that and kind of block out any bias. The thing that I noticed immediately was that the grip itself made writing with a pencil much more comfortable. Although the majority of the gripsharp has kind of a rounded look to it, there are 3 flat surfaces that run up along the length of its rubber surface that have ridges (kind of like the ones on the side of the highway to keep you on the road if you fall asleep) to increase the friction between it and your fingers. In addition to the better grip that it provides, it also just thickens up the area that you hold onto, which has always been an issue for me. I feel that writing with a normal pencil forces your fingers to hold a smaller and more slippery surface, which makes any extended writing with a pencil a laborious task.
After I started writing with the pencil for the first time, I found it helpful to rotate the tip a bit on a sheet of scrap paper just to take off any harsh edges. As I continued to write with the pencil I got used to writing with a thicker point, but I did have a few minor issues getting my writing to line up where I intended to on the page. This was mostly due to holding the pencil at a certain angle that didnt let me see the tip because I couldnt see past the fatter section of the gripsharp. Again, this just took a few minutes of writing to get used to, so I wouldnt consider it a show stopper. One other minor adjustment that I had to make was with rotating the pencil as I wrote. Normally when I write with a pencil I tend to rotate it to keep the point sharp, so with the thicker grip and the previously mentioned 3 flat surfaces on it, you have to be a little more conscious about how far you are actually rotating it so that you turn 1/3 of the way around to get the grip to settle correctly between your fingers. If you have used a Lamy Safari before, the grip on that is somewhat similar to the gripsharp.
Once I was able to get adjusted to the wider point, and the rotating issues, the gripsharp definitely made for a much better writing experience than I was used to with a traditional pencil. The better and wider grip just makes it so much more comfortable, plus it eliminates the sweaty hands issue of having the pencil become slippery. This might not be the ideal office supply tool for very fine or detailed writing, but for standard writing, and even for some art and construction projects, this is a great little item to have on hand.
Lastly, the gripsharp folks were kind enough to send over 5 of these as you can tell from the pictures so Ill be doing a giveaway a little later this week where there will be 4 lucky winners, so keep an eye out for your chance to win some more cool office supplies. If you would rather not try your luck and wait though, you can always buy your gripsharp directly from their site here.