Introduction: How to Fix a Jammed Electric Pencil Sharpener

About: Hobby programmer, woodworker, 3D designer, etc. I love tinkering with anything and everything and understanding how it all works!

For all the teachers and moms or dads out there, a jammed electric pencil sharpener is no fun. All it takes is a 2-year-old putting the eraser end in first, or a kid trying to sharpen all the way to make a tiny pencil, or even a mechanical pencil to jam things up. I decided to write this tutorial after helping fix 2 sharpeners for my sister-in-law (shout out to Christine and her second-grade class)!

It really doesn’t take much as far as time or tools. I was able to fix 2 sharpeners and take pictures during the process in about 20 minutes. I recommend taking pictures of the sharpener and pieces while taking it apart if you’re nervous you won’t be able to get things back together.

Tools Needed
- Screwdriver (with a long neck)
- Knife

Step 1: Opening the Sharpener

Most electric sharpeners hide the screw holes under the stick-on foot pads. Turn the sharpener over and look for screw holes. If you don’t see any, use a knife to gently pry up the foot pads.

Using your screwdriver, unscrew each of the screws holding the bottom plate of the sharpener on. Once the screws are all unscrewed, lift or slide the bottom plate off.

NOTE: The best way to remember which screws go with the bottom plate is to put them all together at this point and take a picture of your sharpener next to the screw and bottom plate.

Step 2: Disassembling to Access the Jammed Object

NOTE: First things first! If you don’t want pencil lead covering your hands, put on some gloves!

Before removing the sharpening chamber, take a picture so you can remember just how the insides sit in the outer plastic case. It never hurts to have a reference to help when putting it back together.

Both sharpeners I fixed were easy to slide out the sharpening chamber from the outside plastic casing. Just grip the insides and gently slide them out.

One of my sharpeners had an extra covering that was screwed around the sharpening blades. Use your screwdriver to remove, remembering to snap a picture of the screws and cover beforehand!

Step 3: Removing the Problem Object

CAUTION!!! THE BLADES ARE SHARP! Don’t cut a finger poking around to get the object out.

At this point there should be nothing hindering you from accessing the jammed object. You should be able to extract it by either just pulling it out with your fingers, turning it upside down and shaking, or using the knife or screwdriver to gently pry it out.

If the object doesn’t come right out you can try slipping the knife up from the underside to push it out. Be careful and don’t force it. If there seems to be damage to the sharpener blades it may not be worth the effort to fix.

Step 4: Reassembling the Sharpener

As you can see in my pictures, there is a slot where the sharpening chamber slides back into the outer plastic casing. It will be different for each type, but there should be grooves where it fits in and your pictures from before taking it apart should help. You know you have it in right when you look from the top and the hole where the pencil inserts is lined up correctly.

Next, there is a flexible plastic part on the cord that needs to go in a groove on the casing. Slip the cord in the groove so that the bottom cover can line up flush with the bottom as it goes back on.

Reattach the bottom cover and screw it back in. Then stick the foot pads back over the holes. Use superglue if the stickiness has worn off.

Step 5: All Done!

There you have it! Amazing that little piece was all it took! Plug it back in and test it out. Hopefully works like a charm.

Last thing to do is teach those kids how to not put the eraser end of the pencil in or mechanical pencils in! Haha, Happy sharpening!
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