Chris Williams' Minimalist Brass Hi-Tec-C - Pen Review

Chris has officially launched his Kickstarter campaign for his pen and leather products as of September 17th, 2014!

I was recently contacted by another local Phoenician and reader named Chris Williams.  His email contained a very intriguing message and idea; he asked me to provide thoughts on a pen he designed and had machined in a local shop.  He provided me some pictures and I knew that I was instantly thrilled to see what he'd come up with.

He conveyed the story of how his pen came to be: he had made a leather notebook he wanted a brass pen to go with of certain size requirements and couldn't find anything on the market to fit the need.  So, he decided to make one.  Needless to say, I'm incredibly impressed by his ambition.  Chris is actually moving in the direction of starting his own line of goods so I'll be sure to keep tabs on where he's at and what new stuff is coming our way from him.  Small Business Showcase candidate?  You bet.

Chris was interested in my Groove, so we actually made a little trade and he was kind enough to send me a pic of him using it to showcase his pens at a local show.  Thanks Chris and I hope you enjoy it!    

Photo provided by Chris Williams - Photographed by Adolfo Solorio

Now, the pen: wow.  I knew I'd be excited about it, but when it came to the weight, feel, and finish of this thing it surprised me in a good way.  The pen is thin, so the added weight of the brass actually feels great.  I was a bit worried with the hi-tec-c refill that it would be a bother, but not in the least.

The pen does not currently have an official name which is why I'm calling it the "Chris Williams" at the moment.

Chris said he made a small batch of these and I wouldn't necessarily call them prototypes, but mass production may still be in the works.  Let's just say these are in very limited supply and super cool. 

The design Chris put into it is very simple and minimal, yet elegant.  It is kind of a blend between a couple of Kickstarter pens: the Pen Type-A and the P1 by Premier Pen but out of brass and done well.  There is no clip, but one is not necessary for the purpose he intended.  He made it to be carried in a leather notebook sleeve.  The barrel is sleek and straight without any taper and the ends are rounded, but more of a flat rounded.

The cap is small and doesn't post anywhere other than the closed position, so you'd have to make sure not to lose it...

The refill is held in place by a very small section that also acts as the threaded piece to hold the cap when closed.  The threaded section has two flat sides which are used to facilitate the removal and exchange of the refill.  As it sits, this requires a wrench of some kind to open and close it.  Now, if there is one design element that might cause people some trouble, it's this one.  I say that because I got myself into a pickle because I didn't follow the proper order of operations...  

  1. Use wrench to unscrew tip section
  2. Remove refill
  3. Replace refill
  4. Use wrench to secure tip tightly back on the barrel
  5. Place cap back on pen

Upon receiving it I couldn't help myself but to take it apart to see how all the pieces worked and I neglected to do step 4 properly and ended up getting the tip stuck in the cap when I threaded it back on.  When this happens, the only thing exposed are the threads that go into the barrel.  (See image below)  This is a problem as you can't grip the threads easily to separate the cap and tip.  I ended up using a piece of leather and some pliers (very gently as not to mar the brass) to get them apart.  Another concern is the need to use a wrench to get the tip off.  In general as most people have only metal tools...  The threads in the tip are very small and what I would consider fragile, so clamping down on this section incorrectly could damage the part.  If that happens, the cap may not thread properly or even at all.  This would be in my "suggestions" section for the pen.


If Chris wants to mass produce these at some point, my recommendation would be to develop a small tool for people to use possibly made of a dense plastic and include it.  I'm thinking of making something out of a piece of wood in my shop to try.

The refill, the hi-tec-c, is a favorite among artists, engineers, and pen people that like to be able to write really small.  Needless to say, it is pretty popular and does great in this pen.  Again, the thin barrel doesn't make the needle tip of the hi-tec-c awkward.

All in all, Chris did a fantastic job on this piece and I commend him for his efforts to create what he couldn't find and I'm so glad he reached to me to make an exchange for a Groove and to share his pen!

This kind of creativity and determination is inspiring; thanks again Chris.