Category Archives: Reviews

A Review of Tomoe River Paper

Hey, you there.

I want to tell you about my favorite paper.

Stop running away! Why would you do that? How rude!

I want to fill your ear sockets with words that express my love of Tomoe River paper. Surely you’ve heard of it? It’s the hottest paper on the block right now! If there were a reality show about paper, this would be Honey Boo Boo.

Wait, I’ve gone too far. Let’s forget I said that.

The fountain pen world has been a-buzz about this paper for a while. It’s insanely thin yet remarkably well behaved with all manner of writing instruments. How thin you ask? Ever opened a Bible? Yeah, it’s that thin.

So it’s thin and can handle your favorite nibs, what’s the downside? Well, there’s a lot of show-through and it’s a little more expensive than most paper. At first I thought the show-through was bad but I’ve been using both sides for a while and it’s pretty tolerable. As for the price, you’ll forget about that once you try it.

I don’t know what else to tell you, this paper doesn’t feather at all. It’s the greatest paper on earth! Yes, I know that’s a huge claim and I don’t care; it’s true.

I sacrificed a piece of my beloved paper to demonstrate how it handles a plethora of writing utensils. I threw all my pens and pencils in a box and scooped out a variety of things to show you. Now let’s look at the mess I made.

Tomoe Front

Pretty clean eh? Here’s the back of the page where you see the Sharpie marker is the only trouble maker. Of course, who uses a Sharpie to write anyway?

Tomoe Back

I bet you want to know what it looks like when you crumple it into a ball. Well alright then.

Ball Of Tomoe

Oh, you didn’t ask for that? Sorry.

Just a guess but I think you’re wondering how Tomoe River paper handles paper airplane duty. I spent a week folding this piece of Tomoe River paper into an airplane shape just for you. Once I finished that arduous task, I threw it across my basement 1,000 times and gathered the data into a spreadsheet. After many weeks of number crunching and several intense algorithms, I’m happy to report that Tomoe River Paper performs adequately as a paper airplane.

Tomoe Plane

Eat that, science! This paper can do anything! I bet you could print money on it! Wait, no, don’t try that.

So in conclusion, I love Tomoe River paper. It handles all sorts of pens and pencils, and it can fly if you fold it into a vague plane shape. That’s almost magical.

This is the greatest paper on earth. Obviously.

Tough Love: Pilot Falcon Edition

Pilot Falcon

Summary

The Pilot Falcon is a pen I lusted after for a long time before finally purchasing one. It’s a clean understated pen that’s light in the hand and offers a unique writing experience if you manage to find one that works out of the box.

Pen In Hand

I’m not someone who pays much attention to pen weights, but I consider the Falcon to be a normal weight pen. Throw in a Con-50 and a bit of ink and the combo weighs in at 19.8 grams. You can get this pen in a metal version but it’s substantially more expensive and considering what I went through to have a working specimen, I’m glad I bought the resin one.

The Falcon is a typical length pen similar to the Platinum 3776, Lamy 2000, or Karas Kustoms Ink. I find pens this size fit my hand well without posting, and even better when posted.

The Falcon has a nice strong clip that will cling to your shirt pocket or wherever you might fancy without any worry of slipping out-of-place.

The section tapers down slightly toward the nib and provides a good amount of grip area between the nib and threads. Depending how you hold your pen, you might place your fingers on the threads but they’re not sharp or bothersome so no worries there.

The Falcon can be posted and it’s comfortable in both scenarios. I prefer it posted but it feels well-balanced either way.

The resin pen comes in 2 trim colors: gold and rhodium. The body is available in black or red but the gold trim is only an option in the black version. Other than color, they’re exactly the same. I bought the rhodium trim and I think it looks the best but if gold is your jam, they have that covered. Either way, it’s pretty darn classy.

The Filling System

The Falcon can use a Pilot cartridge or the Con-20, or Con-50 converters. If you have the metal version, add the Con-70 to that list and enjoy with the increased ink capacity.

I lean toward the Con-50 as a personal preference although I’ve tried all of them in the past. I’ve read the cartridge holds more ink but I like twist converters. I’d choose the cartridge before a Con-20 though; squeeze converters aren’t something I care for.

The Nib

Pilot Falcon Nib

The Falcon has one of the more recognized nibs in the market. Thanks to the unique design and the “soft” designation, this nib is on a lot of wish lists, mine included. It’s available in all sizes from extra fine to broad, all of them soft. I chose the fine nib because I wanted a decent amount of variation but I didn’t think I could stomach an EF nib.

Of course, when you set your sights high, you increase the chances for disappointment and that’s exactly what happened to me. The Falcon I dreamed of for so long showed up and refused to work. The feed would go dry while writing, it couldn’t flow enough ink to handle a bit of flex, and every time I tried to cross a T, it skipped. Talk about a huge let down!

Based on my research, this isn’t rare behavior. I searched far and wide and came up with a list of fixes that revolved around the filling system. Besides flushing repeatedly with cold water and Goulet pen flush, I also tried all the different filling systems (cartridge, Con-20, and Con-50), and a number of inks. Nothing changed and the pen continued to disappoint.

Here’s where I screwed up: I tried to fix the pen myself. A pen that retails for $144 should work out of the box but I got impatient and started messing with it. Somewhere in my fiddling, I either sprung the nib or nudged something to make it even worse.

Eventually I realized what I had done and sent it to Pilot for repair. After inspection, they determined I’d damaged the nib and wanted $75 to fix it. I thought about letting the pen go and writing it off as a loss but I really wanted a Falcon so I broke down and paid for the repair. If I had sent it to Pilot immediately, the warranty would have covered the repair. Live and learn I guess.

When the pen came back from service, it was a completely different experience. Now it writes perfectly every time, with none of the problems from before. This is the pen I dreamed of and all I had to do was pay a lot more than it was worth. After a few minutes with this pen, I forget about the extra cost and I fall in love with it every time I use it.

So about that nib, I bet you’re wondering about the flex. You probably watched this video on YouTube and now you want one. Yeah, me too but this isn’t how the Falcon performs.

If you read the description, you’ll see his pen was modified by John Mottishaw of Nibs.com and this is nothing like the factory nib. Does it flex? Sure, a little. Can you get crazy with it? Nope. Be very careful, springing the nib is a one time trip.

What’s the Falcon nib really like? It’s a soft nib but not a flex nib, be sure you understand the difference. Properly used, the Falcon has a nice amount of spring and can offer plenty of line variation. As long as you know what to expect, this nib will deliver.

Line variation from the Pilot Falcon

Learn from my mistake, if you buy a Pilot Falcon and it doesn’t work after a good flushing or with any of the Pilot filling systems, immediately contact Pilot and let them fix it. Don’t be a dummy like I was!

My Final Thoughts

I’m not someone who uses a fine nib voluntarily but I’ll make an exception for a soft nib since the line variation is worth the trouble. I don’t think this pen has been empty since it came home from repair, I love it that much.

The Falcon is a fun pen, very different from most, and fantastic if it works. But that’s the problem, it should work out of the box but my unscientific estimation based on my research is that this pen carries a 50/50 chance of having problems. That’s not a ratio anyone would want from a pen that costs this much.

On that note, I don’t know if I can recommend this pen to anyone but the most seasoned of fountain pen users. If you buy one, there’s a good chance it will need a trip to Pilot so be ready for that possibility. If it works out of the box, buy a lotto ticket and hope your luck continues. Otherwise, prepare to be separated from your new pen while Pilot makes it work like it should have.

What a sad sentence to end a review on.

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.

IMG_1298

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:

IMG_1251

And now, the brass body:

IMG_1250

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.

IMG_1254

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.

A Look at the Ti2 TechLiner

Ti2 TechLiner Uncapped

I love things that are made of copper, especially when they’ll see heavy use and develop a nice patina. Copper is a beautiful, bright metal when new but once it starts to patina, it takes on a look that can be incredibly beautiful. Some people prefer their copper bright and shiny, others prefer patina, I fall into the patina camp.

I backed the Ti2 TechLiner Revisited Kickstarter project because it came in copper and even more so because the acid wash finish was stunning. As soon as I laid eyes on the acid wash pen, I backed the 5.75″ version without a second thought. However when the pen arrived, I realized I should have taken the time to consider what I was purchasing.

Here’s the problem: copper isn’t exactly a lightweight metal. Throw in a couple magnets and a refill and it’s a pretty substantial pen. I knew it felt heavy in my hand but for the purpose of this review, I put it on a scale where it registered a whopping 1.9 ounces or if you prefer, 53.864 grams. Compare that to the TWSBI Vac 700 which weighs in at 32g (cap and body) and you have a very heavy pen. I don’t think many people can tolerate a 54g pen for a lengthy writing session, I know I can’t.

Ti2 TechLiner Capped

If I had a second chance, I might try the same pen in the shorty version although I suspect it would still be too heavy. While aluminium and titanium may be lighter, they just don’t have the appeal of a copper pen. I have a few pens in those metals and they’re not on the same visual level as this copper TechLiner.

Weight concerns aside, this is a fantastic pen. It uses magnets, uses a great refill, and has an eye catching design. What’s not to love?

Thanks to that great refill, there’s no real reason to discuss the pen performance. This pen was designed specifically for the the Uni-Ball Signo 207 refills which I place among the very best of gel pens. Years ago I preferred the G2 but now I feel the 207 outshines it in all areas.

So, is this pen worth the cash? Absolutely! I don’t find myself using gel pens very often but I might still buy a lighter version of the Ti2 TechLiner. If you’re in the market for a nice pen and you love the Signo 207 refill, check the TechLiner out. Just keep the weight in mind before you buy a regular length copper or brass version.