Yearly Archives: 2015

Pencil Pot Of The Month – December 2015 4

Jade pencil pot

Description: A pencil pot made from jade

Material: Jade

Further information: I got this and another jade pencil pot when I was in Shanghai a few years ago. Compared to other pencil pots it is unusually heavy and the walls and base of the pot are rather thick. I assume this one was supposed to be used for a brush (because of its tall, slim shape).

Pencil to the rescue! 7

Move aside text markers, fine liners and others. It’s time for the hero, the classic, the tough pencil to save the day! Have a lock that needs changing? Use a pencil!

From a Samsonite lock

From a Samsonite lock

Even the instructions say you should use a pencil (and not a ball point pen).

You could try using a ball point pen, but who knows.. that might void your warranty ;^)

Pilot neox Graphite

After having heard good things about Pilot’s neox Graphite leads from Lexikaliker I bought some to try them out. This blog post is just a quick comparison between the neox Graphite leads and my standard leads, Staedtler’s Mars micro carbon. In this comparison both, the neox Graphite and the Mars micro carbon, were 0.3 mm leads in B.

I know that Pentel’s Ain Stein leads are liked by many, but I don’t have those in 0.3 mm in B, so I couldn’t compare them to Pilot’s and Staedtler’s leads.

I bought my neox Graphite leads from eBay for $2.80 plus 50¢ postage, i.e. $3.30 (~£2.20; €3.10) including shipping. They came from Taiwan and took about a week to get to me.

Pilot S20 and Staedtler Mars micro

The pencils

Filling the pencils

To test the leads I put the Pilot leads in a Pilot pen and the Staedtler leads in a Staedtler pen. Without a doubt the Staedtler system has the better filling system. The opening of the lead container has a width that fits in Staedtler pens, so you can just slide all leads into the pen. The lead containers are ISO colour coded (0.3 mm is yellow). You will also find this colour coding on some other mechanical pencils, e.g. Faber-Castell’s TK-Fine 9717. Filling the Staedtler is so easy that I made a video to demonstrate it.

Lead darkness

Both leads seem to provide similarly dark lines. The neox Graphite might be a little bit darker, but I didn’t see much of a difference. I thought I have a look whether I can easily quantify the darkness of the marks made by the leads. To do this I drew a line with both leads on Brunnen Der Grüne Block paper, using ~1.2 N of pressure (axial and normal pen force) and moving both pens at ~15 mm per second. I then scanned the result using an Epson V700 scanner, turning auto improvements etc off. In the HSB representation most pixels for both leads had a brightness of between 40% and 60%. If I ever buy other leads, like the Ain Stein leads, to compare these too I might do a frequency analysis of the different levels of black to show the distribution, but I tried to keep this blog post short so didn’t do this as there are so many blog posts to write on my to do list.

Pilot neox Graphite and Staedtler Mars micro leads

The leads

Lead hardness

To test how hard the lead is, i.e. how long it will last, independent of lead darkness, I extended both leads by ~0.7 mm and drew a lines with both leads on Brunnen Der Grüne Block paper, using  ~2N of pressure (axial and normal pen force). The Mars micro lasted about 216 cm, the neox Graphite lasted about 189 cm.

Lead reflectiveness and erasability 

I didn’t try to quantify the leads reflectiveness, i.e. how much it reflects light, but if you look at the lead markings on paper at an acute angle when there is a strong light source the Mars micro lead seems to reflect the light a bit more. In terms of erasability the neox Graphite seems to perform slightly better, too.

Pilot neox Graphite and Staedtler Mars micro leads

The lines


Pilot’s neox Graphite is a great lead. Depending on where you live it might be hard to get as Pilot doesn’t sell this lead in many of their markets (including the UK). The fact that the Mars micro was able to draw longer lines with the same amount of graphite could indicate that the neox Graphite B is more similar to the Mars micro in 2B, this would not be a surprise as Japanese pencils are often softer than European pencils of the same grade, but I don’t have the leads at home to confirm that this is the case for these leads.

Price and exchange rates: November 2015

I couldn’t find any reviews of the neox Graphite leads in other blogs, but there must be some in Japanese or Korean.

Lexikaliker mentioned the neox Grpahite leads in his Sonderanfertigung blog post.

In his blog Dave talked about the Ain Stein leads I mentioned in the beginning.

Johanna Basford, the artist behind the immensely successful colouring books is using a Staedtler Mars micro in one of her latest blog posts.

If you want to see another mechanical pencil video from me have a look at this Zebra Delguard blog post.

Star Wars pencils 2

Even though I prefer Star Trek I like Star Wars, as you can see from the Stormtrooper fountain pen post, but at the moment there is so much Star Wars merchandise everywhere here in the UK, it already seems to be getting a bit too much – maybe not so much because of the quantity, but because a lot of it is just same old, same old.

Star Wars stationery

Star Wars stationery

Saying that: it was nice to see that there are quite a few pencils and pencil related items part of the Star Wars stationery range.

Star Wars stationery

Star Wars stationery

Pencil Pot Of The Month – November 2015 1

Mars Tiegel (crucible) from Aug. Gundlach / Graphit Kropfmühl

Description: A pencil pot made from graphite

Price: €11.90 (in 2011) (~$12.70; £8.40)

Material: Graphite1

Further information: Lexikaliker bought this “Mars Tiegel” from the museum of the Graphit Kropfmühl PLC, now part of AMG Mining PLC. Now it’s mine and ever since I got it it is my most treasured pencil pot, storing my ready to be used pencils2. It is made by Aug. Gundlach, who describe their company as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of crucibles3. Apparently clay-graphite crucibles, like this one, are a thing, which means that a clay graphite4 mix is also used for manufacturing items other than pencils.

Price: 2011

Exchange rate: November 2015

Lexikaliker wrote about this black gold crucible in 2011. (Bing translation, Google translation)

There is also a great looking Graphit Kropfmühl pencil, previously shown in this blog post.

  1. Plus silicon carbide, aluminium oxide and silicon dioxide (according to Lexikaliker). []
  2. You can see this pencil pot in the background of the previous pencil pot of the month. []
  3. According to Wikipedia a crucible can withstand very high temperatures and is used for metal, glass, and pigment production as well as a number of modern laboratory processes. []
  4. Graphite has actually been used for thousands of years, i.e. before the famous deposit in Cumbria was discovered in the 16th century. []