Canadian Woodworking

Sharpening our pencils

Blog by Rob Brown
pencil sharpener

Last summer I made fun of—I mean “mentioned”—my friend and the stubby pencil he used.

This was while he was doing some work for us during our basement reno. I had asked him for a pencil to make a quick mark. He handed me his carpenter’s pencil, but it had virtually no lead protruding from its tip, and therefore had no decent way of making a mark. He laughed when I asked him about it. We teased each other, as friends do, but eventually we finished the reno.

Fast forward four months when I got a message from the owner of Speed Sharp. He designed and made a sharpener powered by a drill that can prep virtually any type of pencil in a second or two. He sent me a sample to check out and it works well. If you’re in the market for a do-it-all sharpener this might be your answer. Check out for more information.

Since I do 99.9% of my marking with a mechanical pencil, I’m going to give this to my friend. Surely this sharpener will make his work more accurate, and I’ll be sure to remind him of that as often as I can.

My new Speed Sharp arrived. Not only does it work well, but it looks like a beer bottle:

Boat rack

About a month ago I wrote about a boat rack I started making with my kids. Well, they helped a bit, but it was mainly me building it. You can read about it here. I spent a while getting it started, realized it needed a roof, bought the roofing materials, then the snow arrived. I shelved that project, as I had a million other things to do and I’m a serious wimp when it comes to the cold.

It warmed up a few weeks ago so I finished it off. As soon as I had it up I gave it the old “give it a shake” test to see how strong it was. Although it didn’t fall down, it shook like a bowl full of jelly. Right away I knew I’d need to beef things up a bit or this roof wouldn’t make it until February.

Some head scratching, followed by another trip to the local big box store, and I was ready for action. I added two more concrete deck blocks and a few 2x4s to each block, creating a V-support towards either end of the overhanging roof. It was a lot stronger now, and would surely hold a heavy load of snow, but it still had a pretty good wiggle to it when I performed the engineering inspector shake test on it. It was better, but still not quite good enough. The last thing I wanted to see was a heavy load of snow, coupled with a strong wind, bring the roof down. That would damage the fleet of boats more than not having built the boat rack in the first place and leaving them directly on the ground.

As I write this, the overnight forecast is for 12″ of wet snow. Guess it’s now or never. I’m going to add a few more 2x4s to support what will surely be a heavy load of snow and provide more rigidity to the structure to protect it from the winds that are also in the forecast. I’ll make sure to shovel off the snow in the morning just to be sure. I hope I don’t have the perfect weekly column topic for next week brewing here.

Even Stronger

Some angled 2x4s will go a long way to supporting a heavy load of snow, but when coupled with strong winds, I get worried.

Boat rack

My Trusty Sidekick

The dog was super excited to spend a few hours with me in the yard, though she wanted to do something other than build.

Rob's sidekick
Last modified: December 26, 2022

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


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  2. Hi Barry,

    That’s a #2 Robertson driver bit in the drill. That’s how the sharpener can be powered. Having said that, you could also just use your hand to rotate the sharpener. The driver bit can be inserted into the top of the sharpened / beer bottle, while the pencil goes in the bottom of the bottle. It works great.


  3. That speed sharp video you posted should drive away any customers .
    Strange, unless it was a joke?
    That don’t look like a pencil in the Drill? Router?

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