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Twsbi Micarta


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20 replies to this topic

#1 tanalasta

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:11

THE TWSBI MICARTA

Those who are famliar with TWSBI, a Taiwanese pen brand know that they are renown for producing affordable pens which are usually aesthetically pleasing and designed partly by user feedback on this very forum. The Micarta however is TWSBI's foray into a more unique material.

Dimensions courtesy of Gouletpens (from their website)

Overall weight:21g (0.74oz) Body:14g (0.49oz) Cap:7g (0.25oz)


Lengths
Overall, closed:135.5mm (5.3in) Overall, posted:169mm (6.7in) Body:127mm (5.0in) Cap:63.5mm (2.5in)Nib:22.5mm


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So how does the pen feel?
A little longer than the Lamy 2000. The micarta material is surpisngly hard to touch. Very rigid despite it's initial soft and fibrous appearance.Almost like gripping a metal pen but without the weight nor coolness. It is a light pen.

Ergonomics

Hmm... this is where I feel the pen is somewhat let down. Take my Lamy 2000 - perfectly balanced in the hand. Take the more expensive MontBlanc 146, perfectly balanced in the hand. Take my TWSBI 540, ergonomic unposted but perhaps could do with a bit more weight at the back, although it doesn't post.

The TWSBI Micarta? Again, I feel more went into the design of the pen material than the ergonomics. I could be wrong however. The pen feels unbalanced unposted and resulted in my hand tiring after a page. You can post the pen - unlike the TWSBI 540 - which balances it nicely but the pen is quite long in the hand.

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Nib

Steel.
Generic in writing characterstic, rigid. A little dry actually. Plastic feed. Smooth, very smooth which is the norm given my experience with TWSBI. A size '6' nib, not unlike the MB 146 in size but with quite different writing characteristics. If you like a smooth nail, this is for you. No flex. The writing sample with R&K Morinda is from the TWSBI Micarta. However, as Hari comments below - TWSBI would have had spent some money into the design, TWSBI stamping and colour.

The tipping is round, smooth and isn't really anything out of the ordinary. For comparison, the glimpse of writing with iroshizuku kon-peki is a Pilot VP (matte black) in medium and the brown (Visconti Sepia) is a TWSBI broad 540.

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Fill:

C/C ... nothing to write about here either. Average capacity for a converter and works well.

Others have noted there are quite a number of turns to unscrew the pen.This does't bother me one bit but you can see in the photos how many threads there are!

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Others have commented that pehaps the fibres will wear. My experience with the material is that it is durable. The material is generally hard and wears well. Mind you, this pen is on loan from a friend so I won't be testing it's scratch resistance anytime soon! A small o-ring helps seal the pen section to the barrel, I imagine to ensure it is airtight and will not be drying out.

Idiosyncracies

1. An interesting pen material. Harder to touch and quite a unique feel from expected. The colour and patterns vary. This is a limited release but still available from Goulet. This pen is a 'fine'.

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2. I fill the pen converter with a drawing up needle and syringe! I woulnd't be dipping the fibres into a bottle of ink unless you thought staining was an inherently desirable pen character. Simple ink drops wipe off the glossy bits but I imagine the exposed paler fibres would stain.

Conclusions

Do I like this pen? It's not bad. $100 from Goulet it would have costed. However, it's not perfect. Balance is a litte off unless posted ... the nib writes a bit dry, is rigid and nothing out of the ordinary. However, the material is lovely to look at and unique. The brown micarta and gold clip is an attractive finish.

For $125, I could pick up the Lamy 2000 which is what I use in day to day work. The MB comparison wouldn't be fair! The Lamy is better balanced, just as smooth (and rigid), holds more ink and a well designed everyday writer.

Overall rating: 6.5 / 10 (average)

Photos taken with a Nikon D7000, Nikkor 105mm Macro lens.

Edited by tanalasta, 16 November 2012 - 06:05.

In Rotation: MB 146 (EF), Noodler's Ahab bumblebee, Edison Pearl (F), Sailor ProGear (N-MF)
In storage: MB 149 (18k EF), TWSBI 540 (B), ST Dupont Olympio XL (EF), MB Dumas (B stub), Waterman Preface (ST), Edison Pearl (0.5mm CI), Noodler's Ahab clear, Pilot VP (M), Danitrio Densho (F), Aurora Optima (F), Lamy 2000 (F), Visconti Homo Sapiens (stub)

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#2 hari317

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:50

Excellent review and pictures, thanks! Just one comment, I would not call this nib generic. TWSBI must have spent some cost premium to have Bock "stamp" the TWSBI logo on the nibs so it must have been a custom order with a good Minimum order quantity requirement... a generic nib is a stock, unimprinted nib which can then be fitted unimprinted to the pen or can be relatively cheaply laser engraved by third party with a logo and then fitted.

Thanks!
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#3 mhphoto

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:52

GREAT review! This pen is on my Christmas list along with a Sheaffer 100 (Ferrari Red, of course :puddle:) and I really hope I get them both. :cloud9:

(If I don't, I'll just buy them anyway… :D )

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#4 Adventurer

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:58

Verry interesting!

Funny kinda... those of us into knives, espeially custom work, know micarta intimately, its strange to see it as a new or exotic material used elsewhere... its rather old and over done as cutlery handles. But it sure looks good as a pen!

G.

#5 Regulateur

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 23:33

Great review but unfortunate conclusion as I wanted to treat myself with this Micarta :crybaby:

I guess I will find a way to convince myself to buy it because I never post my pens anyway :thumbup:
Cheers,
Pierre

#6 J.R.

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:01

Like Adventurer, I too, have a fair amount of experience with Micarta - via the custom knife handle business.

It's a wee bit surprising that they chose to use the linen micarta for a fountain pen, with all the thread-cutting involved. That looks (to me), like it will become a weak point, over time.

Micarta was initially developed by Westinghouse, as an electrical insulation material, and is made in several variations. Had "I" been searching for micarta, with a fountain pen body in mind, I would have chosen the paper-based variety. Much smoother, easier to thread, and not anywhere near as porous. It comes in two colors, black and white, and can be polished to "glass-smooth" appearance. (The white looks like aged ivory, when polished).

If memory serves, the paper-based version is also a tad bit heavier, which might solve the balance situation.

Surely TWSBI is aware of all these facts, and if the Micarta catches on, they could easily expand their line, to include the different types of micarta. I do know, that the black-paper version would NEVER stain (it's almost as hard as glass, when sanded and polished) - the white, OTOH, would prob. soak up ink like a blotter, I never had any experience with micarta and ink !

(There's also a micarta with a "rag" texture, and the color variations in that style really get wild).

Take care, all
JR

#7 sarahfar

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 01:26

I have one of these. I've been too lazy to take pics or do any review. Let me say this, its a nice pen. I bought it from Pendleton Brown so its not the same as an out of the box one. The nib is a frosted flex winged stub. It is an incredible writer. I can't say enough for the work of PB. It has a little odor of phenols that takes some getting used to, but its a cool little pen in the form I got it.

#8 J.R.

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 06:06

I hope ya'll don't mind my rambling on about this one...had it on my mind all night.

I realize the company was building to a price point, and I'm not being critical of their production methods. But, I really think the average pen tinker could make this model something special, in the average amatuer workshop. Since I'm not a pen mechanic, there are a few snags that I wouldn't be able to handle, but someone with the knowledge/tools could transform this pen in an afternoon, it seems.

Thanks to the great photo's, we can see the pen partially disassembled. It looks like the barrel and section would be a simple matter of progressively finer sandpaper, and then buffing on a soft wheel with jeweler's red rouge, and it could look like glass. The clip on the cap would need to come off, and perhaps someone with the knowledge could make short work of that, and then give the cap the same treatment as the barrel. (And then put the clip back on, of course).

As far as the threads - they look pretty ragged, and that's because the linen is embedded in the micarta itself. First thing I would try is some 400, then 1200, then 2000 grit sandpaper, wrapped around something like the edge of a butter knife. They WILL polish up, but it'll take a light touch. The internal threads in the barrel would be tricky, and without handling the pen, I can't come up with a technique, right now.

All in all, this pen could be made to shine, like it were lacquered, with only a coule hours of work.

And, if TWSBI is listening (I seriously doubt that !) - if they chose another form of micarta, they could make the pen even better, heavier, slicker and more durable. Also, I have no idea what's involved in adding a cap band, but it surely can't require that much effort (or cost). To my mind, it would enhance the looks of the pen.

If I'm being foolish, just tell me. Or, just ignore the post.

Take care,
JR

#9 lemanfan

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 06:13

Thanks! Great review.

I purchased one too a while back from a UK retailer, and for most parts I agree with your review but I have two things that I'd write differently:

The ergonomics. For me, the pen feels very nice and balanced unposted. Better than most of my pen. I guess this is very personal. :)

The second thing is the writing characteristics - mine is a very very hard starter, on the border of being unusable. Once I've started it, it's very nice though - a smooth firm nib which puts down the exact right amount of ink. But I've almost given up on getting this pen in working order...

#10 ransky

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 10:26

I love the Micarta material of this pen, but the nib on mine was so bad I've not purchased any TWSBI's since (dry nib, wouldn't start). Really too bad considering what it could have been. I swapped the nib out to make the pen useable.

#11 de_pen_dent

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 17:21

My experience with this pen has been overwhelmingly positive - its Fine nib has been the best writer of my 4 TWSBIs (a 540, a 540 ROC and a 700 being the others). Very smooth, good ink flow and just the right amount of feedback.
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#12 PeterPenPencil

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 17:33

I don't like the pen

#13 tanalasta

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 03:21

I've seen several comments about the pen being a hard starter and I agree. The nib also tends to dry out a tad when left unused. It does write 'okay' but a bit dry compared to what I would consider the norm (and I have a few pens). As another recent review has suggested, all nibs can be tuned and mine was a sample size of 'one'.

Balance is subjective, I don't think the balance is as effortless as that of an MB 146/149 or Lamy 2000 or Sailor unposted. I don't know how much R&R TWSBI spent in ergonomics vs pen material and pragmatics. However, I happily conceded experiences with fountain pens vary between users :)

Thank you everyone for the comments! And I've seen some photos of glassy micarta knife handles. I wouldn't be surprised if another manufacturer decided to have a go at a Micarta pen with a different type of finish.As the pen is a 'loaner' from a fellow FPN member .. .I won't be taking the red rouge polish and Dremel to it anytime soon!

When I refer to a nib being 'nothing out of the ordinary' that's what it means ... it writes ... well ordinary just as if I picked up a $100 Parker/Waterman/Shaeffer and typically a stiff, rigid nib.

Better nibs are those that have character, expression and perfectly regulated flow. The Sailor Naginata-togi is smooth, provided a lovely tactile feedback and expressive. My Danitrio nib (also Bock) is soft, allows for adjustment of flow by turning the blind end and has a small amount of flex to provide to enhance individual writing characteristics. I'm also quite partial to MB and Aurora nibs both of which are hand ground in house.

Obviously, these pens are also in a different price range to the steel nibbed TWSBI.


*EDIT: The pen in the review I've realised is a medium, not a fine*

Edited by tanalasta, 18 November 2012 - 03:27.

In Rotation: MB 146 (EF), Noodler's Ahab bumblebee, Edison Pearl (F), Sailor ProGear (N-MF)
In storage: MB 149 (18k EF), TWSBI 540 (B), ST Dupont Olympio XL (EF), MB Dumas (B stub), Waterman Preface (ST), Edison Pearl (0.5mm CI), Noodler's Ahab clear, Pilot VP (M), Danitrio Densho (F), Aurora Optima (F), Lamy 2000 (F), Visconti Homo Sapiens (stub)

#14 mhphoto

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 05:11

I don't like the pen


Well Mckayla doesn't either.

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#15 XiaoMG

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 07:39

I don't like the pen

I admire your concision but I'm not sure I understand completely. Could you explain a little?
Robert.

#16 Exploratorius

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 14:28

Hard to believe that pen costs as much as it does -- it looks like it's made out of cardboard. However, if i could get an outstanding crisp italic nib on it, I wouldn't care what it looked like.
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#17 Joe in Seattle

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 19:00

Mine writes like a dream, but for a slight hesitation to start at times. Seems to really like Diamine Oxblood & does very well on even poor paper. I read all the reviews, told Sheila I couldn't imagine anyone buying one of those ugly, overpriced, smelly pens, then found myself ordering one from Brother Goulet. I asked that the pen be tested for neither dry nor scratchy before mailing and the pen that arrived is neither. It tends to stay in more constant use than some more elegant & pricier pens. I was really surprised. I thought it would surely be a "catch and release" but it's like an ugly puppy; it has found a home with me.
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#18 pokermon

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 21:34

With Micarta you can buff it on denim and it will give it a polished look. Learned this because I'm a knife guy and Micarta is widely used on knives.
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#19 crunchmaster

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 17:04

I recently got a Micarta EF and it writes wet (almost too wet for an EF), always starts well, and doesn't dry out quickly if left uncapped. I also got mine from Goulet, but I didn't ask them to test it. Did I just get lucky?

#20 mhphoto

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 18:25

With Micarta you can buff it on denim and it will give it a polished look. Learned this because I'm a knife guy and Micarta is widely used on knives.


I think it might be interesting to tape off some sort of pattern and polish only sections of it. Might have to do this if Santa brings me one of these. :drool:

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