Category Archives: Pen, Paper, and Ink

Writing Evolution

I like gel pens and fountain pens. That’s it.


Lets back this up.

I started on crayons. I think we all did.

I graduated to pencil at some point, I don’t really remember when. Then after some time, I was granted access to a pen. Not a good pen I’m sure, just a pen. A ball point pen.

Maybe a Bic?

It’s likely something the modern version of that little boy shivers at.

I don’t like ball point pens.

I use ball points and pencils for years.

How many?

I don’t remember. I’ve been drawn to the office supply aisles in my local stores any time I ventured near for as long as I remember.

Office supply. How formal can you get? I guess it’s better than “school supply” seeing how I’m not in school any more. I was back then I suppose.

Those office supplies transformed in time. Pencils, ball points, now we have gel pens.

I found the Pilot G2. I am delighted.

At some point I find a Parker Vector hanging in the aisle at Meijer. I think Meijer is a Michigan thing, or at least a midwest thing. Insert your favorite local everything store. That’s where I found my catalyst.

Not now, but later. It will explode later.

I spent years with gel pens. There’s nothing wrong with that, I love gel pens to this day. My pen drawer has many Pilot G2, Uni-Ball Signo 207, and Pilot Juice. I recommend those pens all the time, practically beg people to use them.

I graduate from gel to fountain over time. That Vector, it comes back. It sat in waiting, patient and quiet.

I find the Parker Vector in a box. I also find a package of cartridges. I put them together and find bliss.

I spend 8 years enamored by the fountain pen, shunning all others. The fountain pen is pure, the fountain pen is classic, the fountain pen is right.

Eventually an old friend creeps back into the frame.

He’s made of wood and graphite. He doesn’t replace the fountain pen, instead he brings his own nostalgia. He’s not the same, he’s delightfully different.

There’s the sound against paper that delights me. It’s a scritching sound. That’s the best I can do to describe it. Then there’s the smell of cedar, the remnants after a sharpening.

I dive in, head first. Like I did with fountain pens at one point. My collection swells, just as the fountain pens have. Vintage, modern, rare. I must have them all.

My collection evolves. I own more pencils, more pens, more inks than I can use in a lifetime. Maybe that’s not true, depending how wordy I can be. Maybe I can use my collection before I die but at the rate I’m acquiring, it’s not likely. Every week a new writing product arrives.

I’m obsessed by this hobby. I’m scared of my spending.

I have piles of paper, piles of pencils, piles of pens. Piles of piles and piles for miles. It’s not enough. I want to own them all, to feel them all, to try them all. Each drag of graphite across each kind of paper followed by each nib filled with each ink. Everything needs to be mine, everything needs my touch.

I’m a maniac, driven by paper lust. I must consume that which I have not tried. I must have what’s new and what’s old and everything in between. Bring me your half sharpened pencils, your best and worst ink, your smoothest or scratchiest nib, I must try them now.

This is my evolution of writing. This is my descent into madness.

Heavy Metal Bullet Pencil

Recently I reviewed the Metal Shop Twist Bullet Pencil. As I mentioned in that article, I ordered one of their limited edition brass bodies and here it is.


Just as I suspected, it’s a heavy chunk of metal. Let’s throw it on a scale and see how it measures up.

First, the aluminum body:


And now, the brass body:


Yep, it’s a full ounce heavier. That doesn’t sound like much but it’s very noticeable, especially when you try to use it. Of course, this thing is so pretty you probably won’t care.


I’ve tried to carry the brass body and bullet a couple times in the past week but the weight sends me back to the aluminum body. That and I’m afraid I might scratch it when it’s bouncing around with my Victorinox Classic. I think I’ll save the brass body for dressier occasions and keep the aluminum version as my EDC.

Speaking of the aluminum version, I ordered a blue body and another brass bullet last night. At this rate, I might end up with the full catalog in a couple weeks which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

A Pencil in a Bullet

I’m a newbie to the pencil world so I don’t feel qualified to review an actual pencil just yet. Perhaps one day I’ll know the difference in graphite grades but I’m still learning. So for now, I’m going to review a handy way to carry a pencil in your pocket.

The Twist Bullet Pencil was a joint effort between Metal Shop and Huckleberry Woodchuck and like most cool things these days, it launched on Kickstarter. I remember seeing chatter about it on Twitter but I don’t use pencils so why would I care?

I continued not caring but then at some point I did care and yada yada yada, one showed up in my mailbox. I don’t know how these things happen.

I chose the black aluminum body with the pointy brass bullet because black and brass looks awesome. It arrived with a white eraser and a Palomino 602 nub installed. I was pretty happy with it out of the box but erasers should be pink, am I right? Luckily Metal Shop sells a pink eraser pack so I fixed this oversight as quickly as I could. Now my bullet pencil is looking quite fine. Oh, remember when I said I chose the “pointy brass bullet”? Well, it’s really pointy.

The twist on this pencil — if you’ll allow the pun — is a that bullet screws into the body on both ends. You unscrew the bullet to reveal the pencil, flip it around, and screw that end in to assemble your writing instrument. I believe vintage bullet pencils were friction fit so this design is particularly sturdy. In fact, there are threads all over this thing. The eraser screws into a threaded end (which can also accept a pocket clip) and the pencil nub screws into threads inside the bullet end. Every part of this pencil threads together and the result is a nice solid feeling pencil.

I’ve carried the Twist Bullet Pencil in my pocket for about 2 weeks and it has proven to be quite sturdy. Jostling alongside the pencil is a Victorinox Classic — or occasionally a larger Victorinox Cadet — and an Eagletac D25AAA flashlight. Despite banging into other metal things for days on end, the finish is holding up beautifully.

This past weekend I carried the Twist Bullet Pencil and a Baron Fig Time Travel Apprentice (I’ll review this soon) to Ikea where I skipped their free pencils and shopping list in favor of my own tools. Did I feel a twinge of self-importance as I pulled the Baron Fig from my back pocket, assembled the Twist Bullet Pencil, and copied down product numbers? You bet I did. Look at me Ikea shoppers, I’m a pretty big deal.

I’m sure you’re wondering so, yes, every time I unveil a nice pen or pencil in public I secretly hope someone recognizes it and stops to admire my amazing taste. It hasn’t happened yet but I know one day it will and I’ll be ready.

As a pencil novice, I love the Palomino Blackwing 602 so I’m happy they include them with the Twist but according to episode 25 of The Erasable Podcast, Metal Shop will be switching to the ForestChoice pencils soon. I’m not sure I like those as much as the 602 but of course, you’re free to use any pencil you like, even crappy ones.

I can’t find much to criticize, the worst part is the time it takes to assemble before you can write. While at Ikea, it took longer to get the pencil ready than it took to record the product numbers. This didn’t really bother me and if it had, I would have carried it around open until I was sure I didn’t need it again.

I suppose it’s obvious but the Twist is a bit top-heavy when assembled. I have large hands and it balances well in the web of my thumb but smaller handed folk might notice the top end heft.

Speaking of weight, Metal Shop just produced a limited run of solid brass bodies and I had to order one because it’s so pretty. The aluminum body will feel pretty light once I’ve put in time with the brass one.

I know very little about bullet pencils but I think Twist Bullet Pencil is a great modern entry into the genre. Everything about this pencil is well made and I want to carry it with me every day, it’s that good.

Disclaimer: This article has several affiliate links to Amazon.

Doing Your Part To Regulate YouTube

Continuing the theme from my last post, I’m going to show you how to help squash YouTube trolls. It’s pretty easy and I hope you all join in.

Here’s a sample comment I found on the latest PenHabit review (I think this might be clever spam but I can’t be sure):

Who Says Things Like This?

1 – The first step is to give that comment a thumbs down.

Next, hit the reply button and let them know you disapprove. Don’t stoop to their level, just point out the error of their ways. We’re here to talk about pens, no need to be nasty.

That’s generally enough, a typical human should feel shameful when called out on such a transgression. But what if they don’t? Well, let’s go nuclear.

2 – That little arrow in the top right of the comment is the door to the big red launch button.

3 – Yup, that says “abuse” and “spam”. Maybe it’s a little overboard but I think a lot of these mean posts qualify as abuse.

I haven’t tried this but I like to think YouTube will suck that comment into a black hole while they review it. Maybe that’s wishful thinking but hey, it’s worth a shot. At the very least, if enough of us join in, that account isn’t sticking around and the less garbage being spewed at the souls who devote their time to our hobby, the better.

Consider yourselves deputized, go forth and regulate. Don’t forget to leave a nice comment for your favorite videos, kindness goes a long way to offset the trolls.

Let’s Restore Civility In Pendom

Note: This was edited on 2015-02-15.

While writing about civility, I described internet trolls with words that were anything but civil. Those words undermined the intended message of the post and should have never been written. I’ve edited the post to remove the negativity and name calling and I’m sorry. -Brad

I’ve been in a number of communities during my years on the internet but none so accepting and friendly as the community of pen enthusiasts.

Ah, the penfolk, champions of the pen, embracers of ink, purveyors of paper. We grasp our pens and hold them high in protest of a world claiming digital as the new way of life. But yet even as we’re deep in the good fight, some in our midst are spreading a darkness over our community.

Let’s travel back to in time to the year 2007. We’re in the bedroom of a third floor apartment staring at a man digging through boxes of stuff he probably should have thrown away. From one of those boxes he retrieves a Parker Vector fountain pen. He bought that pen years earlier at a local supermarket because it looked neat and it’s about to send him down a rabbit hole.

He finds a package of Parker Quink cartridges and manages to get the pen working. Something deep inside of him awakens, he feels the urge to learn about fountain pens. Luckily it was 2007 and he had the internet at his disposal.

That guy was me but you already knew that right?

I remember finding Fountain Pen Network and being amazed that there were so many people still using fountain pens. Not just dabbling like I was, these were full blown collectors and enthusiasts. As someone with a tendency to latch on to strange hobbies, this sucked me in deeper. The first thing I noticed: everyone was extremely nice.

I’ve spent most of my life since my early teens in the car enthusiast world. This is a hobby that has no shortage of bickering and drama. No matter how you modify your car, someone out there thinks you’re doing it wrong and they won’t hesitate to start a flame war with you online. In 2007 I was waist deep in that drama and FPN was a welcome escape.

In the fountain pen world, it’s not uncommon to find someone with a collection of Montblanc fountain pens praising a much cheaper pen. Penfolk just like pens that write well, price be damned. This sets our little group apart, we just love pens and ink and paper and we want to use as many different types and brands as we can.

You’d think a group of enthusiasts who are so open that they’d place a $2 pen next to a $1200 one might be incredibly civil and for the most part they are. But while most of us are enjoying our hobby and watching it grow, there are a few bad apples who are spoiling the fun for some of us.

There are a few prominent bloggers and video reviewers that I think every fountain pen enthusiast knows. I’m talking about Brad Dowdy, Ana Reinert, Ed Jelley, Matt Armstrong, Stephen B.R.E. Brown, and Azizah Asgarali. There are plenty more but I feel like these folks are specifically front and center when someone tries to enter this hobby. They spend their time writing great reviews, taking amazing pictures, or shooting and editing video simply because they love pens.

So we have a number of great people who are pouring their time and efforts into our hobby and who shows up? Yup, the internet trolls.

They seem harmless if you’re not on the receiving end. “Just ignore them” we say, but it’s not that simple. Why does Matt need to deal with constant comments about his lack of hair? Why does anyone need to complain about Stephen and Azizah’s on-air chemistry? Why waste the energy to type a negative comment in the first place?

Surely you’re familiar with the saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. I like to imagine most of the penfolk follow this rule but there’s a select few of you who don’t and it’s time you learned.

I believe the good penfolk outnumber the trolls so I’m calling on all the good folks of our community to counteract them. Whether it be a nice comment or an admonishment of theirs, help us run these rabble-rousers out of our town. The worst we can do is to say nothing.

The next time you watch a YouTube review or read a blog post and you see someone acting rudely, counteract it with a kind comment and make it clear you don’t support such negativity. I may be giving them too much credit but I think they’ll get the message.

Be nice. Be civil. And most of all, call out those who aren’t. The internet is a cesspool but that doesn’t mean our little pond needs to be polluted.