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Pencil Pot Of The Month – October 2016

Welcome to the second year of the Pencil Pot of the Month series – last month’s high-tech pencil pot completed the first twelve pencil pots.

ToBE Story Cat with three feet pencil pot

Description: A laser cut pencil pot for self assembly.

Price: I’m not sure whether it was being sold commercially – if it was sold, then probably only in South Korea. I got it from Arnie Kim of Banditapple fame and Eun Suk Bang, the designer behind ToBe Story.

Material: Wood


Further information: The laser cut pencil pot is from ToBe Story. It doesn’t come with instructions, but assembly is very intuitive. The latch (probably the wrong word) at the top of each wall is always higher on one side than on the other, so putting the four walls of the pot together is straight forward. One rubber band fits between the high and low latch at the top of the pencil pot. The other rubber band fits in the notches at the bottom of the pencil pot, holding it together neatly. There is also a divider you can insert diagonally, to create two different chambers in the pencil pot.

The cat with three feet design is from Eun Suk Bang’s German friend Fayssal Loussaief.

ToBE Story Cat with three feet pencil pot

You can see all Pencil Pots of the Month by checking the PPOTM category.

Sharpener for sale

Sharpener for sale: the Deli 0620 in white or blue. If I was cheeky I would call this sharpener “office and classroom friendly”.

Brand new, £9 plus postage, comes with desk clamp.

Leave a comment or email if you are interested.

Sharpening a Korean TiTi T-Prime with the 0620
Sharpening a Korean TiTi T-Prime with the 0620

Postage to the USA:

Royal Mail International Standard (5-7 days): £10.30
Royal Mail International Economy (42  days): £6.65

Postage to the UK:

1st class: £3.30
2nd class: £2.80

Postage to Germany:

Royal Mail International Standard (3-5 days): £6.85
Royal Mail International Economy (15  days): £6.65

I’m happy to check postage to other countries.

Deli 0620

Deli 0620 shavings
Deli 0620 shavings

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.

Lamy Line Friends


After Brad and Myke mentioned the Lamy Line Friends pens in the last two episodes of the Pen Addict podcast I couldn’t resist and just have to show my ‘Line Safari’ – despite my intentions of keeping the number of fountain pen posts in the blog low so that the focus can be on pencils.


The Line characters started life as icons in a messaging app, but became so popular that now there’s a whole range of merchandise based around them. I think my first exposure to them was as icons in the WeChat app.


I got Line Friends Lamy Safari  from Arnie Kim, the man behind the Banditapple notebooks I reviewed five years ago. Initially I contacted Arnie about this in February or early March, but it took quite a while for him to get his hands on any, in the beginning they always sold out as soon as new stock arrived, with long queues forming.


I think I paid about ₩ 54.000 (~$45; €40; £30) plus shipping, but I also ordered a few Banditapple notebooks the same time.


I plan to soon write more about the other exciting items I got in this parcel from Korea.


Price: March 2015
Exchange rates: September 2015


Deli pencil sharpener 0620


Deli 0620 in its box
Deli 0620 in its box

In my previous blog post I mentioned the Deli 0620 sharpener I bought when I was in Shanghai.

I you have followed my blog you might have noticed that I am very fond of Deli sharpeners. The Deli 0635 and the Deli 0668 are in fact my most often used sharpeners.

Why do I only mention these two models and no other Deli sharpeners? The problem with Deli sharpeners is that most seem to be aimed at children or pupils and look a bit too cartoony to put on your desk in the office – so when I came across a serious looking Deli sharpener, the 0620, I was quite excited.

Deli 0620 unpacked
Deli 0620 unpacked

The moment I saw this sharpener I thought of the Classroom Friendly Sharpener. I don’t have one myself, but having seen pictures of it in the past I thought this Deli 0620 looks very similar …but I had to wait until I was home to be able to compare the 0620 with photos of the Classroom Friendly Sharpener. More about this later.

Deli 0620

Cheap and full of features

I paid 45元 (~ $7.25; €6.25; £4.75) in the stationery shop on Xiangde Road, mentioned previously. Unlike the 0635 and the 0668, the 0620 features a metal case and is quite a bit bigger. It has a very solid feel to it and comes with a desk clamp and a spring driven pencil holder that features auto stop (as expected). The 0620 seems to sharpen with the same angle as the 0635: it will produce a slightly concave point with an angle of ~ 17°.

The 0620's spring loaded pencil holder
The 0620’s spring loaded pencil holder

Oh no, tooth marks!

This all sounds great, but I have a big problem with this sharpener: it leaves tooth marks on the pencil, because the grips that hold the pencil while sharpening are not rubber covered. I guess many people don’t mind. As far as I know some of the best sharpeners do leave tooth marks, like the expensive El Casco sharpener as well as the cheaper, but still very expensive Caran d’Ache sharpener.

Sharpening a Korean TiTi T-Prime with the 0620
Sharpening a Korean TiTi T-Prime with the 0620

The problem is: I do mind! There are some things others seem to mind, like bar codes on pencils, that I don’t mind. On the contrary, I often even like them …but tooth marks? Maybe one day I can accept them, but not at the moment, so I fear my 45元 were not very well invested. I could try ‘improving’ the tooth mark situation by putting Sugru on the grip mechanism, but the point produced by the Deli 0635 is so similar, I might as well use the 0635 instead of the 0620[1]If I had some Sugru I might try ‘improving’ the 0620. Maybe I buy a pack one day, once it’s open it needs to be used up soon anyway, which might be a good reason to use some of it … Continue reading.

If you can cope with the horror: click on the bite mark picture to see the mutilated pencil in higher resolution.

Ugly bite marks on a beautiful pencil
Ugly bite marks on a beautiful pencil

The Deli 0620 and the Classroom Friendly Sharpener

One interesting point, mentioned earlier, is the similarity of the 0620 to the Classroom Friendly Sharpener. According to the pictures I have seen I would say the two sharpeners are more or less identical. I guess there could be several reasons for that, the most likely probably being that

  1. The Classroom Friendly Sharpener is actually made by Deli
  2. Both are made by another company
  3. One is a copy of the other, or both are a copy of another.
Deli 0620 shavings
Deli 0620 shavings

I don’t think one of these sharpeners is a copy of the other one. My guess would be that the the original isn’t famous enough to warrant a copy being made. Also, if you look at copied stationery, e.g. a Lamy Safari and a Hero 359, the copy is often of much worse quality than the original. I can’t really judge how the quality of both sharpeners compares as I only know the 0620, but it seems to be pretty well made. The only problem I encountered was that I couldn’t remove the burr mechanism. This problem doesn’t seem uncommon for Deli. Once I had two batches of 0635 in front of me, and one batch was perfectly fine, but on the other batch I couldn’t remove the burr mechanism on any of the sharpeners [2]I don’t think they are glued on on purpose as I can’t see any sense in that. I wonder whether there are other reasons, e.g. some tolerance issues and some parts being a bit too big, or … Continue reading. I assume that if you use enough force you could get the burr mechanism out.


A great looking sharpener that disappoints because of the tooth marks it leaves. Otherwise great value for money, like other Deli sharpeners.

Size comparison: 0668, 0620, 0635
Size comparison: 0668, 0620, 0635

As mentioned by Gunther and Koralatov in the comments: there are other sharpeners that seem to be produced in the same factory: the Carl Angel-5, the Kw-trio 031VA and the Helix A5.

Assuming the sharpener is made by Deli, because the point produced is so similar to the one produced by the 0635 [3]What a shame that it’s so difficult to remove the burr mechanism for a comparison, the question is: Did the 0620 get this acute, concave angle because of Deli’s existing mechanism or was this model’s angle always like this, even before Deli made this sharpener,  and Deli made its mechanism like this to fulfil Carl’s (or whoever ordered this sharpener first) requirements?

Price: December 2014

Exchange rates: January 2015


1 If I had some Sugru I might try ‘improving’ the 0620. Maybe I buy a pack one day, once it’s open it needs to be used up soon anyway, which might be a good reason to use some of it on the 0620.
2 I don’t think they are glued on on purpose as I can’t see any sense in that. I wonder whether there are other reasons, e.g. some tolerance issues and some parts being a bit too big, or whether the sharpener was assembled before the paint could dry properly, etc.
3 What a shame that it’s so difficult to remove the burr mechanism for a comparison