One of the best things you can do to increase your success in drawing is to have a great pencil sharpener. Drawing with a dull pencil is not only very frustrating, it makes a great drawing difficult to achieve.
Now, you can get a fairly sharp point on a pencil with an electric sharpener, or with a small hand sharpener, but a charcoal pencil can be much more difficult to sharpen. If the pencil was in a box that was dropped when being shipped to your art store, and you sharpen it in a regular sharpener, you can end up with a stump that is still not sharp! The charcoal in the pencil just keeps breaking in the sharpener.
But do not despair! I have found a pencil sharpener that I really like, and it works every time. No, really! E.V.E.R.Y. time! You don't have to buy this brand - but try to find one that has these features, and you will not regret it!
This sharpener is the Dahle Rotary Professional Pencil Sharpener, Model 155. As you can see, it has teeth where the pencil is inserted to be sharpened.
Here is the charcoal pencil, with its very blunt end, ready to be sharpened.
I have placed the pencil into the sharpener. You can see how the front panel has extended and clamped the pencil firmly in place.
Next step is to turn the rotary crank, which in turn draws the pencil into the sharpener. The gremlins inside then chew away the dullness of the tip.
And there you have it - a beautifully sharp tip, ready to create spectacular drawings!
This sharpener also has an attachment which allows you to attach it to a desk.
I ordered mine from Dick Blick for a reasonable price. I am sure you will be able to find something similar at stores that carry office supplies.
I cannot stress this enough - if you are drawing, make sure you have a very sharp pencil! It will truly make a difference in your art. :-)