David Rees and His One-Man Artisanal Pencil Sharpening Service

This is for any­one with a love of old school wood­work­ing — luthiers, ébénistes and the rest. In 2009, the humorist David Rees gave up car­toon­ing and opened up his one-man arti­sanal pen­cil sharp­en­ing ser­vice in Bea­con, New York, an old fac­to­ry town along the Hud­son Riv­er. Just a man, some high qual­i­ty cedar, a knife, and an occa­sion­al pen­cil sharp­er revive a bygone era and a dis­ap­pear­ing instru­ment of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. 400 pen­cils lat­er, at $15 a pop, Rees has some­thing good going. You can learn more about Rees and his crafts­man­ship by read­ing (seri­ous­ly) his new book, How to Sharp­en Pen­cils, with a for­ward by John Hodg­man.

Note: Rees uses some NSFW lan­guage dur­ing the video.

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Comments (7)
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  • Gef Flimlin says:

    Whomev­er pays him $15 to sharp­en a pen­cil must not be the sharpest pen­cil in the box.

  • giuliop says:

    @Gef Flim­lin

    I don’t know, who­ev­er pays him that much obvi­ous­ly has lots of mon­ey, and if that mon­ey was obtained legal­ly, there’s a good chance they are indeed the sharpest in their box.

  • Chelly Kelly Johnson says:

    I saw you on The Sun­day Morn­ing show on CBS today and would love to get one of your $20.00 pen­cil sharp­en­ing gifts, com­plete with Cer­tifi­cate, etc for my Hus­band who is in Afghanistan and won’t be home for Christ­mas this year. I know he would enjoy this very much, as he uses pen­cils all the time and thinks they are the best tool in his Den!! :-) Please let me know how to order and pay for this unique gift.…your time on The show this morn­ing was won­der­ful!!! Thanks and con­grats on a great idea for those of us who love to give gifts no one ever got before…you’re the best!!! :-)
    Chelly Kel­ly John­son

  • dayle law says:

    How do I order and pay for a pen­cil sharp­en­ing gift? Saw you on CBS Sun­day Morn­ing, it was fas­ci­nat­ing and I have some­one in mind who would love it. Thanks

  • dayle law says:

    Where do I acquire this gift and pay for it? Thanks

  • Norman says:

    Bar­num lives! “There’s a suck­er born every minute.”

  • Barbara Middleton says:

    Saw you on CBS good morn­ing sun and would like to order a kit would make a cute gift. Thanks

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.