Tactile Turn Pencil - Quick Look!

Will Hodges of Tactile Turn has become somewhat of a household name around the machined pen community. He's been at making metal pens and goods now approaching his 7th year (maybe longer...) and he did a quick Kickstarter campaign for a pencil version to match his Slider and Glider bolt-action pens.

The reason I'm giving this pencil what I'm considering a "quick look" is since his Kickstarter was a short run and is ending on the 30th, but I still wanted to share some thoughts on it.

If you're familiar with his previous campaign for the Slider and Glider pens, the pencil takes the same shape and design and adds in a mechanical pencil feature. Where previously there was a curving bolt-action mechanism, the pencil replaces it with the same knob but now in a smaller, "clicker" motion.

The internal mechanism Will chose to use is a Schmidt Feinminen-System which is a durable "over-the-counter" part that has been also used in a few other products over the last few years. It has a sturdy click and the main feature I like about it is that it actually screws into the grip section of the pencil. This makes sure there is little movement while writing, and also makes the part easily replaceable if something ever goes wrong (like dropping it...).

Also a feature is that this would allow folks to swap mechanisms of various line widths in and out of the same pencil barrel if they so chose. 

Replacing the lead in the mechanism is a bit different than many pencils. Instead of popping out the eraser and dropping the lead into the barrel cavity, you have to unscrew the barrel sections, pull off the mechanism cap, drop in the new lead, and then reassemble the pencil. This isn't a super taxing exercise by any means, but the variation outside of the norm felt noteworthy.

One final note about the mechanism is that the tip is non-retractable. This particular pencil tip doesn't have the usual lead pipe that protrudes out, but what is left exposed is the conical metal tip. Will sent me both 0.7 and 0.5mm versions of the pencil and I've found that the 0.5 is more prone to lead breakage (due to being thinner I'm sure) which may occur more so due to the lack of said pipe. The 0.7mm has been a champ with very little unexpected breakage while writing.

If you dropped the pencil tip onto a hard surface it is definitely bound to get damaged. Also, if putting the pencil in a shirt pocket there may be some added wear that may occur from the tip poking at the fabric.

The clip on the pencils match those of the Sliders and Gliders which are stiff sprung steel. These things aren't going anywhere.

Will also sent me two versions to check out, a titanium and black anodized aluminum, and both look great. The barrels have the signature Tactile Turn "grooves" along the barrel which adds an interesting texture and grip across the whole pencil. 

From a comfort level while clicking to extend the lead, for me personally I'd probably give it a 6/10. This really is the only area that isn't the most comfortable part of the experience. The knob on the pencils are pretty short which requires you to click the top of it down with an area of your thumb that may not do a lot of clicking. It isn't a painful experience or anything, just takes some getting used to.

I've found the aluminum to be a bit smoother than the titanium, but Will let me know that he's worked out how to polish up the inside of the titanium better to allow for less drag while clicking.

The titanium (1.4 oz) certainly has slightly more noticeable heft, but only outweighs the aluminum by 0.4 oz which isn't much. If you were on the fence between the two due to weight, I'd say either one would satisfy.   

The erasers are replaceable, but not entirely sure how readily available they are from places like Amazon, but they'll be available if you ever need them from Tactile Turn.

Lastly, I feel like the Kickstarter price point on these pencils is pretty great. The aluminum version can be had for $49 and the titanium for $69 which seems like a great value. If you love Will's other products, I'd say these are a great option to add to the collection.

The Kickstarter is ending on the 30th, so check out the campaign if interested, and special thanks to Will for sending these over to check out.

Caran d'Ache Ecridor Ballpoint - Retro Palladium Edition

In the history of The Clicky Post there are pen brands that I've not reviewed very much and Caran d'Ache is certainly one of them. I tried the 849 model a few years back and the standard model just wasn't quite for me as it had some features that just weren't my preference (although there are die-hard 849 fans that adore them).

But, I'm always down for another go to see if things change for me.

Pen Chalet offered to send me one of the more "fancy" models of the 849 barrel design called the Ecridor series, so special thanks to them for providing it for review.

I have to say, at first glance this pen IS certainly fancy. Each of the Ecridor series pens are either gold or palladium coated which certainly scales them up when compared to the simpler models. The other models are probably more fun, but the Ecridor models seem to certainly make a statement. This one is of the palladium variety which gives the pen a shiny mirror finish on all the smooth surfaces. The mirror finish also makes it prone to fingerprints, but it sure looks sharp.  

The version I received is called Retro and has an elegant cross-hatch pattern etched along the facets of the barrel. The other variations have what I'd consider more dramatic designs, but this one suits me well. In the lineup it would be the one I would pick every time. All of the designs have a very Art Deco sort of appeal which I also like very much. Classic.

The pen is what I'd consider on the slimmer side as from point to point on the hexagon barrel the width is just around 1 cm. Although, if you compare it to another popular hexagonal barreled pen like the rOtring 600 you'll find they are about the same size. The rOtring 600 is one of my all time favorite pen barrels, so I really can't complain too much about the size can I?...

Where the rOtring has the sharper, more abrupt corners, the Caran d'Ache facets gently curve into each other which definitely gives it a softer feel and appearance. 

In weight and heft of the Ecridor seems much more substantial than the original 849 I reviewed in the past (which I no longer have to compare to unfortunately). I recall it being very light, but this version weighs it at almost an ounce which, for a pen its size, is considerable. Actually, it is just enough weight for it to feel sturdy in the hand, but not unnaturally heavy. It is a good weight. 

In my original review I wasn't the biggest fan of the click mechanism due to how it felt, and admittedly this one about the same for me. Functionally I have no qualms about it, but in feel it just isn't quite as satisfying.

It has a very smooth action and is extremely quiet (aside from some slight metallic rubbing sounds of the parts moving around) which I'm sure many people would appreciate. Probably the fidgeter in me wants something with a little more snap, but if you are more the silent click type, this and the standard 849 just might be your match made in heaven.

To remove the refill you unscrew the knock mechanism which is made of brass and some plastic (wish this was all metal).

On the knock is also the only branding found on the pen which has been etched around the circumference as well as the hexagon "logo" etched on the very end. These appear laser etched which is ok, but from a design standpoint I probably would have preferred a deeper engraving or stamping on the parts considering the pen's price point. 

One thing I really appreciate quite a bit is how far the writing tip extends. This is an extremely subtle thing, but I appreciate that in comparison to many pens it may appear too short. To me it is really the perfect amount. Usually with ballpoint pens you can see a small amount (or large sometimes...yikes) of the flat cylinder side of the writing tip, but on the Ecridor it is hidden with exactness. Since the pen has a sloping angle towards the tip, the fact that the refill is only showing the conical section doesn't let the flat side of the refill distract from the overall design. 

That observation probably puts me somewhere in the crazy zone of impractical thinking, but I can't imagine that design was by accident. To the original engineer(s) of this design, I tip my hat to you. If no one else gave a darn about that, just know that I certainly did. Bravo.

The ink included with the pen is the Caran d'Ache Goliath ballpoint refill in medium, and while I originally remember not loving it I don't mind it so much now. I go in phases at times where I want only rollerball or gel pens which are dark and smooth, and ballpoints are just not that way at times. This refill has been considerably smooth and comfortable. 

I was aware that Parker style refills do fit in the 849 barrels so I decided to swap in an EasyFlow 9000. While it did technically fit and operate, it was obvious that there are slight tolerances that exposed that the pen wasn't designed for it. Things like the knock not catching every time and the tip extending a little further than normal. I decided to swap the Goliath back in.

From a style standpoint, I think the Ecridor has a lot going for it. The hexagonal barrel gives it a unique look that, while overall somewhat simple, stands out for sure. It is a classy pen and has a shape that isn't shared by many models.

This is definitely a luxury type item with a retail price of $170 (street price about 20% lower), but not uncommon when you move into pens with precious metals involved.

If you like the 849 and are potentially looking for a step up, the Ecridor lineup is likely to not disappoint. Special thanks again to Pen Chalet for sending it along to review.

Inventery Mechanical Pen and Stand - Onyx Edition

In early July a took a look at a pen from a company that was somewhat new to me, Inventery, and I'm back to review another model they also sent me called the Mechanical Pen + Stand. 

One of the main things that stood out to me about the Inventery product lineup was the overall sleek and minimal aesthetic they are going for. Everything they sell is highly coordinated, isn't overstated, but still makes a statement if that makes sense.

They are products you look at and think, "that looks cool", but isn't something that draws too much attention. I think the Onyx versions (which I requested) actually accentuate this since they tend to be more muted when paired with other parts of your carry. Sometimes blending in is the best way.

The Mechanical Pen is a retractable, clip-less model that is designed to be either a desk pen or to be carried with a pocket sleeve. This particular set came with an included pen stand which puts more of a stake in the ground for its purpose, but the ensemble is very nice.

In shape the pen is a long cylinder that goes to a sharp conical tip, and one side of the pen has a thin machined facet that runs the length of the barrel. The purpose of this is to act as a roll stop when you set it down on your desk, but I think it also adds some interest.

From a marking or logo standpoint the only things present are the Inventery encircled "I" emblem and the pen's serial number which is a nice touch.

I definitely wouldn't carry this pen in my pocket without a sleeve, especially one that covers the entire pen and knock mechanism. The pen takes the popular Schmidt P8126 rollerball refill which, if left opened on a pair of pants in your pocket would certainly bleed a nice inky stain. 

The click mechanism probably looks familiar as it a Schmidt model used by many brands due to its accessibility, clean look, and good quality. I'd consider it to be a quiet mechanism, but there is some "sound" from it when you use it, but in no way an audible snapping click like you'd get from a Pilot G2. But, it is just loud enough to where in a meeting you might bug some folks if you fidgeted with it.

One thing about this mechanism is that it tends to deploy rather easily, hence my apprehension to toss the pen unsheathed into my pocket. 

If I'll be honest, at this point I have some mixed feelings about this mechanism. From a pure utility standpoint it works great and most people won't be disappointed in it. There are several other pens that use it that I still love and enjoy. Where it breaks down for me a bit is just in the originality category. Not trying to be nitpicky, but it has been used before (kind of a lot), and doesn't stand out in a crowd any longer.

Understandably creating your own mechanism might be cost prohibitive, but in the machined pen world there is now almost an expectation that newer retractable pens on the market will likely create their own (particularly those with a higher price point), or find a way to use a mechanism that isn't as obviously recognizable.

All of Inventery's products are made from brass which puts them on the heftier side. The pen sits just around 2 oz which is pretty hefty, but not unruly. Some stainless or brass pens on the market creep up to the 3+ oz range which is just too heavy for me. This one feels good.

Since there are no breaks in the barrel, the pen has a uniform look which I like. To remove/exchange the refill you unscrew the knock mechanism which might not be extremely obvious to everyone, but this isn't an uncommon thing with other pens.

The stand that comes in this set is wonderfully made. Also machined from brass it is heavy, precise, and looks sharp on the desk. To prevent scratching, each stand has an insert made of plastic or delrin that allows the pen to rest without any metal on metal action. The pen fits snugly (perfectly really) and seats easily.

For additional security the stand also comes with a 3M adhesive tape already applied if you wanted to make it a more permanent fixture. I opted to keep mine unstuck as I feel the combined weight of the stand and pen made it "secure" enough for me.

Inventery makes really nice products in my opinion. They have appealing design, extremely high quality control, and they work well. Their price point starts a bit on the higher side (this set is $125 retail), but if you like the sleek style I would definitely consider them. 

Thanks again to Inventery for sending the Mechanical Pen + Stand set for review.