|The Kitaboshi 6-3-4 pencil sharpener|
When it comes to my larger-barreled pencils that are hard to fit, I’ve mostly resigned myself to the portable sharpeners I already use. They aren’t great, but they accommodate my favorite Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles, and they do the job when I’m in the field and need to sharpen before I get home. So although I’m not actively looking for alternatives, if a sharpener fits the Museum’s 8.3mm diameter barrel, I’m always curious. The Kitaboshi 6-3-4 sharpener not only fits; it has an unusual two-step process that seemed worth a look.
With a cute cubic shape, the 6-3-4 is a bit bulky to carry. I had difficulty photographing it, but the top view shows three sides of the lid with each having a pair of holes – one marked 1 and the other 2. The three sides accommodate pencil barrels of 7mm, 8mm and 10mm.
The lid with holes comes off. Rotate it and place the desired holes so that they align with the sharpeners. Shavings fall neatly into the compartment below. It’s a compact, elegant design (as we’d fully expect from a Japanese stationery maker). The instructions are entirely in Japanese, but the images seemed clear enough.
|Sharpener with lid removed. Shavings are stored neatly below.|
|Instructions in Japanese only.|
Since I had an unsharpened Berol Prismacolor, I thought it would be a good one to start with: A standard-size barrel and medium-thick core. I chose the middle-size stage 1 hole, which shaved off only the wood in a cylindrical fashion.
|Fresh Berol Prismacolor ready for sharpening.|
|Stage 1 sharpening|
|Stage 1 complete|
Next I put the Prismacolor into the stage 2 hole, which sharpened the exposed wood into the expected conical shape. The point was blunt, which isn’t bad for colored pencil use, but the exposed core is a bit short if one likes to sometimes use the side of a colored core as I do. It was a clean sharpening.
|Stage 2 complete|
Next I tried an all-important Museum Aquarelle, already sharpened, which fit in the largest hole. I sharpened it at stage 1 longer than I did on the Prismacolor, wondering if that would affect the point. It took down quite a bit of wood, but when I put it into stage 2, the conical section is the same length as the Prismacolor (and I’m left with a bizarre-looking collar), and the point length is the same.
|Previously sharpened Museum Aquarelle ready for sharpening.|
|Stages 1 and 2 complete. An "interesting" collar.|
Finally I tried an unsharpened standard-size Tombow Mono R graphite pencil. I obviously used stage 1 too long, because I got the same goofy-looking result. Even if the blunt point were acceptable to me for writing (it isn’t), the core exposure is too short for drawing.
Well, that’s $15 I would have preferred to have wasted on a hat that looks like a pizza. If you like blunt, short points and potentially ridiculous collars, let me know. I’ll send you the Kitaboshi.
By the way, if you’re wondering what the “6-3-4” signifies, based on the packaging image, it indicates that the sharpener will take pencils with hexagonal, triangular and even square barrels.