My Collection – Photos and Commentary

How to Sharpen Pencils

How to Sharpen Pencils is a book by David Rees that has received a lot of attention recently.  It describes, in detailed tutorial fashion, many techniques for sharpening pencils. 

But well before Rees’ treatise, over in Japan, efforts were made to instruct the youth of the nation in the traditional art of sharpening pencils by hand with a knife.  I know this because of an item I purchased in a store in Japan in the early 90’s —

The Kiddy Hands kit from Tombow contains a child-ergonomic knife, pencils, and lots of instructions.  Could somebody please translate some of it for us?

Actually, two of the “pencils” have no leads —

Apparently they are meant for practice, before taking on the real thing.  It would be wasteful to use a real pencil, I suppose.

5 responses

  1. That’s great, thanks for showing us. I wonder whether this sharpening set is still available.

    July 10, 2012 at 11:43 am

    • I doubt it. But can you imagine if a kid in the U.S. were to bring one to school today? He’d be expelled for having a knife.

      July 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      • Oh, I forgot that knives are not allowed in school (any more). Good point.

        July 11, 2012 at 4:54 am

  2. Kevin

    I think I have seen something similar (without the pencils) in Kinokuniya, Japanese Bookshop. Next time I’m in the city I will check. Thanks for showing.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:12 am

    • I wish we had one of these shops here. I’ve never seen them in the UK or Germany. It would be interesting to know how much this set is and whether this knife is really better than a standard knife when it comes to sharpening. The “edge” of the knife, if that is the right word, seems bigger than usual, I wonder whether that is on purpose to make sharpening easier, or whether there is something else special about this knife, e.g. the edge only being on one side of the blade…

      July 11, 2012 at 4:58 am

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