This seems to happen a lot, but it feels like I’ve just reviewed something and then look back and it has been almost a whole year! Well, about a year ago last November I was contacted by a gentleman named Dan Keller about a new product he’d created called the Penwell.
In essence, the Penwell was a removable base that would stick to your desk or writing surface that allowed you to quickly access your capped pens for on and off writing. This was a very cool and I’d consider innovative product that hit the market and I know people have been enjoying theirs.
The initial model Dan created had a more traditional, more curvy style reminiscent of an old inkwell bottle. It had a very classic aesthetic, and with the model I reviewed being made from walnut, almost even an antique sort of feel. Very handsome indeed and extremely well made.
Dan has just released a new version of the Penwell, the Traveler, on Kickstarter (already funded actually!) that takes the original intent of the design, but adds a more modern, industrial look to it.
In exchange for the curves and more softer design, he has replaced it with sharper edges, corners, and mechanical features that really stand out in contrast. One thing I want to call out is just how much I love the stark difference between product lines. Most companies will tend to maintain a similar vibe to their various products, but Dan opted to go in an almost opposite direction and I think it is fantastic.
The Traveler, as the name suggests, is meant to be a more portable product. Whether at your desk at home, in a coffee shop, or even in your cubicle at work, this particular Penwell has a new feature that lets it “fold up” in a sense into a small footprint for your bag or pen case. Even with the seemingly simpler design (even though more complex…weird how that works), the functionality is not hindered in the least.
Originally I was a bit skeptical of the micro-suction pad at the bottom being able to really adhere effectively, but it does. Granted, the surface needs to be clean and smooth (won’t work on textured surfaces well), but it is snug when put in place. Its actually surprising how well it sticks, but can be easily removed.
Now, it isn’t like you’re 3M taping it to your desk, so with a tug it does come off. While in use, the capped pen needs to be either unscrewed or opened and then “rested” in the cap during writing stints. Once you’re done with your session, you’d want to seal up the pen to prevent drying.
While a bit more rugged than the original Penwell, the Traveler fit and finish is still nice. The edges are clean, the angles are crisp, and it functions as intended. For mine, Dan was kind enough to send me my requested tumbled aluminum (since I like that vibe) which gives it a nice metal look, but not perfect.
Inside the Traveler there is more of a square foam insert (versus the round in the original) that is reversible based on the diameter of your pen. It takes a little doing pushing it out to swap it around, but overall a pretty easy process.
To seat your pen you don’t need to push hard, but just enough until it is snug. The product will fit most pens comfortably (even those with clips), but for really big pens it is probably not the best.
It goes without saying that the foam insert will keep your pen safe and there is decent room keeping your cap from the metal, but if you’re not careful I’d wager that someone could pretty easily start pushing on their pen at the wrong angle and put a nice gouge in their barrel. Probably not a super common thing to happen, but when seating the pen take caution.
I think the Penwell and Penwell Traveler by Good Made Better are just great products. They are nicely made with care (quality really is awesome) and are pretty reasonably priced starting at around the $40 range and moving up from there. If you are a desk writer that also likes to multitask, definitely take a look at their Kickstarter.
Thanks again to Dan for sending this sample my way to check out!