Boorish Pencil Sharpener


A few months ago I bought an electric pencil sharpener from Tools for Working Wood. Very excited with my new purchase I changed the plug (as we have different plugs in Namibia), inserted it into the power outlet and sharpened a pencil. Afterwards I saw some smoke emanating from the device, followed by a prompt discontinuation of function. On further inspection, I saw that this was a device made for 110 V power! Were the hell do you find 110 V in Namibia, I did not even know something like that exists!

I did, however, not allow my ignorance to get me down. This past weekend I found an old drill stashed away in a corner of the shop. It is in such a poor condition that it cannot be used as a drill anymore, but does still turn the chuck most of the time. For some unknown reason I thought of turning it into a pencil sharpener. Yes, I know it is probably a fire risk, can cause cancer (in California), might disturb the migration of several million mosquitoes during the next rainy season etc etc, but in Africa we do not fuss too much about stuff like that.

The result of my inventive activities is on display in the picture below. Unfortunately, it is probably the loudest tool in my increasingly hand tool orientated shop. One small downside of my ingenious invention is therefore that I need to use earmuffs when sharpening a pencil!

The BPS  works like a one armed bricklayer in Bagdad, but certainly would get some Greenies upset with the speed it churns through a forest. Please feel free to let me know how dumb (and/or politically incorrect) I am, or alternatively how I can find 110 V electricity in Africa, or how to turn the 110 V sharpener (what is left of it) into a 24O V consumer.


11 thoughts on “Boorish Pencil Sharpener”

  1. When I travel overseas, I use a step down transformer ( 220 to 120 V) with adapters. The only thing to watch for would to match the size of transformer to the required current draw.

    1. Hey Bob

      Thank you for the advice, I will do some research on the topic. I loved your post on the day at the beach, it is a spectacular spot!

      Have a wonderful day.

  2. All you need is a relatively inexpensive step-down transformer. These are sold to travellers who must deal with varying voltages from country to country.

    1. Thanks John

      I will find out about those, but probably should first open the pencil sharpener up to see how much damage was done already.

      Thank you for you comment, you live and learn hey?
      Kind regards

  3. Gerhard… You’re a nut! 🙂 You cut the plug off and put on a new one with out checking the input voltage???

    It seems everyone else has beaten me to post about travel power adapters. I’ll just add that if you get one, be sure to check whether it just adapts one plug to another (and passes the input voltage through) or transforms the voltage to a lower output. One like this would work (assuming you had a new pencil sharpener):

    All the best,


    1. Jonathan mate

      Remember I live in the third world, we only have one voltage here, if at all. The only other I have heard of is the 12 V stuff they use for some camping equipment. It never even occurred to me that it could be anything else. From your advanced knowledge of electricity (with reference to the magic you did on your dust collection system) it must sound really stupid, but there you go, that’s what I did. Thanks for the advice on the transformer, I actually have a friend who is in the US at present so I might consider asking him to bring me one. From now on I will be very suspicious of electrical appliances from the first world and ask a few questions before I buy. If still in doubt I will consult my sparky on the Olympic Peninsula.

      Nice to hear from you brother.

  4. Thanks Gerrard. I’m sure you have even more spectacular beaches out your way. We do have a small zoo literally in our backyard (a few Kms away) were they have lions, zebra and such, but not quite the same… 🙂
    That smoke was probably coming from the motor’s winding, it may already be toasted 🙁
    But do look inside first.

  5. Jip, Gerhard, these things work with smoke. As soon as the smoke exits, the item stops working. Electricity 101….

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