Something new and interesting to share today, a new desktop accessory that helps you turn just about any fountain pen into a "desk pen".
I was recently contacted by Dan Keller, an inventor of sorts that had a new product to share called the Penwell. This has actually been a product that Dan has developed over several years to get right, and he is finally ready to take it into production and mass market.
In corresponding with Dan, what I really liked about his perspective was that he wasn't simply "making a product to sell", but was doing it more for his own use and satisfaction. He found a need in his own day-to-day work, so set out to create a solution for himself first. The fact that a neat, innovative product came out of it is a bit of a bonus.
Dan was kind enough to send me one of his black walnut Penwell products to review and share here on The Clicky Post, so special thanks to him.
So, what exactly is the Penwell? How does it work?
The Penwell is a small, self-adhesive (by suction actually...we'll get to that) individual pen holder that uses a snug friction-fit foam to hold the pen in place as a desk pen. Rather than having your favorite pen roaming around your desk, or having to stash the cap somewhere while writing, the Penwell holds it at attention so you can quickly grab and go.
From a presentation standpoint, Dan has done a great job of making the Penwell seem like a legitimate product (I hope that comes across right!) rather than just a small batch, niche offering. What I mean is that his presentation makes his brand look professional and I could easily see these in online and retail stationery shops around the world.
The Penwell comes in a silver metal tin which is well branded and even sealed with a gold "wax" seal with a silhouette of the product as the stamp. Inside the tin is a custom foam insert that holds the Penwell snugly and safely during transit.
Dan even provides some instructional drink coasters as well which is a nice touch.
Branding on the Penwell is minimal with only a small etched script of "Penwell" right above the pen slot.
To use the Penwell is pretty straight forward:
- Clean a spot on your desk
- Peel off the adhesive cover
- Adhere to desk with some slight pressure
- Stick in your favorite pen and away you go!
I found this to be pretty true overall, and the "adhesive" is pretty cool. Apparently it isn't your standard 3M sticky stuff, but is actually a series of micro-suction surfaces so it just kind of sticks like a normal suction cup would.
Some issues I see with this setup are that you need a pretty smooth desk surface. We're not talking that you need a glass top that you can fog up before you stick the suction to it (everyone has done that at least once...), but if you're working off a reclaimed railroad tie desk that still has dirt on it or really deep grain, this likely won't stick to it.
My desk is smooth, so had no problem adhering it. Once stuck, removing it is actually pretty easy with just a slight twist and some pressure.
And, when the Penwell's sticky pad gets unsticky, you simply have to wipe it with water, let it dry, and it is ready to go again.
Underneath the Penwell is a metal frame that fits inside and acts as the support for the foam insert. I think there may be a slight pinching effect going on inside so when you put your pen inside it grabs it a bit.
I found for your normal sized fountain pens that they worked great. They set in snugly and I was able to screw and unscrew my pen with ease while the Penwell stayed put.
In testing, I tried a pretty good variety of pens to see how they would go and found that normal sized pens with clips seem to work best due to the added "grip" texture the clip provides. Smaller diameter pens, or clipless pens I had a little trouble with. For example, the Kaweco Supra is a good sized pen, but the smooth, metal, clipless surface made it tough for the Penwell initially to grab onto. But, with some work and by initially loosening the cap a bit, even the Supra worked out pretty well.
I did find that pressure fit caps (non-threaded that you pull apart) caps were kind of a no-go, at least for me. The pressure of trying to pull the cap off tended to unstick the Penwell from the desk. But, all the larger, threaded pens worked fine.
The fit and finish on the Penwell is quite good. Perhaps I've trained my eye a bit when it comes to finishing walnut thanks to Dudek Modern Goods, but overall there are minimal tooling marks to be seen (likely unnoticeable to most) and the satin finish also allows any minor imperfection to blend in with the wood grain, harder if it had more of a shiny look. It is a handsome looking piece.
I love the cleverness behind Dan's product. It is something unique and something most pen lovers wouldn't think they'd need, but could probably use and enjoy.
At the moment, the black walnut version is the only one available on the site, but soon he'll be offering other materials like brass.
Thanks again to Dan for sending a Penwell to review here on the blog, and definitely take a look at his site for more info.