Category Archives: Writing

Bolt Action Bourbon Pens

My Brother, Dad and I share a lot: from our irreverent sense of humor, our inability to walk away from facebook arguments, and especially our love of whiskey.  So last Winter, Dad gave me a gift: a Bolt-Action ballpoint from to match one I previously gave my brother. And rather than wait for Matt to send him one, he bought himself one for good measure.  After including it in my everyday carry or for eight months now, I’ll say it: this is my favorite pen. Continue reading Bolt Action Bourbon Pens

Leather journal covers for Moleskine, by Saddleback

Last christmas, I got some pretty sweet gear. My girlfriend gave me a Saddleback Moleskine cover in coffee brown, and my parent gave me another one in charcoal. Over the last 8 months, I’ve been using them at least once a week, and they’ve traveled with me to work, as well as on trips to Ocracoke Island and Lisbon Portugal this summer.

Continue reading Leather journal covers for Moleskine, by Saddleback

Cross Fountain Pens

A few months ago, I saw a post on the Buy it For Life Subreddit about fountain pens. I pretty quickly fell in love with the idea, and one made it onto my wishlist. As it happens, my Dad has been holding onto a few fountain pens as gifts for a while, giving them away at graduations and other events for family members. So one of them became a birthday present for me, and you may remember seeing it in a previous post. After using it for a month, I  ordered a few accessories online for more “research” on my opinion when it comes to a fountain pen. And the jury is in: I love it.

Fountain Pens are comprised of several parts, the most important part being the Nib. The nib is the writing tip, and originally was constructed from gold and ruby to prevent corrosion from the ink. Today, gold is still commonly used to make nibs, although stainless steel is increasingly common. This particular one’s nib is made from white gold. The nib features a few sections including the writing point, as well as the breather hole (which aids ink flow), and texturing to catch stray ink. Unlike a modern ballpoint, which only releases ink when pressed, the fountain pen can be thought of as a “controlled leak,” in that it is easier for ink to come out when not intended. Many advancements in nibs from their invention over a thousand years ago are to aid in the flow of ink, as well as recent advancements to make them more air-travel friendly.
Writing with a Fountain Pen is an experience you have to try yourself to understand. The way the ink flows off the nib is an incredible feeling, entirely smoother than any other pen I have ever used. If you have never tried one, I highly recommend finding somewhere that will let you test one out.

Nibs form to the way they are used. Pressing harder, or lighter, will mold the nib to your unique writing style, and influence how it releases ink. And over time, the nib can get better suited to the way your want to use it, making it fit in well with the idea of things that get better with time.

I have been using Cross’s own ink in an adaptor, which means refilling it periodically. I have been amazed with how quickly ink can drain: Three days of casual note taking leads to an empty disposable cartridge or adaptor. That is likely the reason that people used to carry around two writing implements: One pencil, one pen. The Pencil was used for most writing, while the pen was used exclusively for the signature. In fact, the pencil would be used for the signature first, and the pen used to ink it as a finishing touch.

This particular pen is available from  few sources, including Amazon. A collection of similar pens from the same maker can also be found at Cross Pens’ Website, but these pens can be quite expensive: Fountain pens start at $50 for just the pen, and can reach upwards of $500.

A better place to start may be the Parker Urban Fountain Pen Kit. I recently bought one for our Realtor as a gift for when we close on a house. Although the pen itself is not “jewelry quality,” it is widely considered a durable starting pen that will last a long time. And at $50 for the entire set, including a few cartridges, refillable adaptor, and inkwell, losing one will suck enough to teach you a lesson without breaking the bank. And if you like the Parker Urban but want to upgrade to a “jewelry quality” pen from the same maker, they make those.

Or, if you are just looking to try fountain pens to start with, Pilot makes disposable ones that are available in 3-packs for under $10. Pilot Disposable Fountain Pens have a wide nib, but have been fairly well reviewed by users. The Lamy Safari is also widely considered to be a great entry-level pen, available around $30.

Waterman is another well respected pen-maker that may be worth looking into if you have the money to spend. But if you are looking for the best fountain pens without regard to cost, Mont Blanc is generally considered the best pen-maker in existence. Their fountain pens start at around $300, and can go upwards of $10,000 (I’m not kidding.)

In Closing
Personally, I’ve been using my pen whenever I get the chance. It has traveled with me, and requires a certain amount of precaution: I remove the ink cartridge before flying, and replace it each time I land. The nib should be cleaned about once a month if not constantly in use, as well. Fountain pens are not meant to be treated the same as a normal ballpoint pen, but if you are interested in finding a pen that will last a long time if you treat it with respect, I would recommend giving one a try. They can make personal notes more personal, and make any task requiring a lot of writing more enjoyable if you appreciate them.


PS: We are holding another contest on Facebook presently. with a chance to win a pair of jeans by RPMWEST. Check it out here, all it takes to enter is a few clicks!