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Pen Pit Stop : TWSBI Micarta v2 Welcome to the Pen Pit Stop. Here you will find reviews of pens that already have some mileage on them. More specifically, these reviews are of pens that are in my personal collection, and that have been in use for at least a year. I thought it would be fun to do it this way - no new & shiny pens here, but battered vehicles that have been put to work for at least a year. Let's find out how they have withstood the ravages of time. The fountain pen that enters the pit stop today is the "TWSBI Micarta v2". According to Wikipedia, micarta is a composite material of linen, canvas, paper or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic. It was originally used in electrical and decorative applications. Definitely a somewhat exotic material to use for constructing a fountain pen. The Micarta v2 is the second iteration of this pen, which was introduced in spring 2014 and solved some problems with the v1 version (specifically, the v1 version had problems with its cap seal, resulting in nibs drying out). The manufacturing process with this material is supposedly difficult, and TWSBI abandoned this experiment. These pens are now true collector's items. I bought this pen in September 2014 - shortly after it appeared on the market. It has been in use for a bit over 4 years now. This pen is in my regular rotation, and always filled with some matching brown ink. Let's have a closer look at it. Pen Look & FeelThis is a truly minimalistic pen without much in the way of ornamentation. Some subtle branding is present, with the TWSBI logo on the finial, and a faint engraving on the cap spelling TWSBI both in English and Taiwanese. TWSBI also sold a version with a golden clip, but in my opinion this breaks the elegance of the design - so I got me the clipless version. The pen is a real looker, and the micarta material gives it a very organic look & feel. The pen has a screw-on cap, and is really meant to be used unposted. You can post it, but I would not recommend it - posting feels rather unsecure. The pen also has some girth to it, and feels very comfortable in the hand. The gold-coloured steel F-nib on my pen writes very smooth, and is a true pleasure to use (out-of-the-box, no tuning required). I like this nib a lot. The pictures above illustrate the size of the Micarta v2 in comparison with a standard Lamy AL-star. Capped, posted as well as uncapped, both pens are roughly equal in size. I personally prefer to use both pens unposted. Pen CharacteristicsBuild Quality : the pen is well build, and still looks great after more than 4 years of use. The micarta material looks especially nice, and looks & feels very organic. There is some visible darkening of the material on the grip section - probably due to the oils in my hand. Overall though, this pen has aged gracefully. Weight & Dimensions : about the same size as a Lamy Safari - capped, posted and uncapped. The pen is rather light-weight, and very comfortable for longer writing sessions. Filling System : this is a cartridge convertor pen, that uses standard international cartridges. Be aware that micarta is a material that stains easily. I wouldn't recommend using a converter and filling the pen by dipping its nib in the ink bottle. My advice: use empty cartridges and syringe-fill them. Nib & Performance : the gold-coloured steel nib on this pen is well-proportioned for the size of this pen. According to info on the web, it's a standard #6 JoWo nib. The F-nib on my unit writes like a dream, and produces a wet and well-saturated line. Price : I paid about 100 EUR for the new pen. Given the untraditional material, and the stunning looks of this pen, I'd say this is very good value for money. The Micarta pens have been discontinued by TWSBI, so today this is probably a collector's item. ConclusionThe TWSBI Micarta v2 is a stunner - a very nice-looking minimalistic pen, constructed from a very unusual material. I really like its organic look & feel. This is one of my top 5 pens, and in regular rotation. The pen has aged well, showing only some discolouration on the grip section. The crucial question is: would I buy this pen again? To this, my answer is a resounding YES. This pen totally fits my taste, and is also a very smooth writer. It is definitely a keeper - the Micarta v2 entered my pen top 5 the day I bought it, and has never left this position.
The TWSBI Micarta fountain pen is made from a unique material (Micarta), which makes it a useful and versatile pen beyond the casual spectrum of the coffeehouse. Reviews about the TWSBI Micarta Version 1 and Micarta Version 2 have flourished on the FPN and other sites. I will not attempt another detailed review, but will provide a few points which determined my purchase and/also how the pen has performed. “Micarta was originally used in electrical and decorative applications. Micarta was developed by George Westinghouse at least as early as 1910 using phenolic resins invented by Leo Baekeland. These resins were used to impregnate paper and cotton fabric which were cured under pressure and high temperature to produce laminates.” - Wikipedia What is the “life state" of the TWSBI Micarta material when compared to the acrylic fountain pen, or pens made of various materials? I realize that TWSBI offers a stable product for sale. But, since it is made of a composite material, I would think that it would have a very minor shrink rate, as do acrylics/plastics, over many years. Antique stores are full of pens which seem far from their original size. I was hesitant to purchase this pen, due to its size. But, finally opted to make a purchase, since it is no longer in production (scarcity), and as an experiment with my man’s medium size hand. My pens have a #5 size nib, and are a size smaller than this pen. The Micarta is a light to medium weight pen with a section/grip diameter (max/min) = 12.3/10.8mm. I am hoping that the Micarta’s larger grip size will allow me to rest my fingers, while alternating between other pens. It’s an experiment. I chose the Micarta Version 2 / 805 over the Version 1 for the plastic insert lining to the cap, and the gold plated stainless steel 14 carat JoWo #6 nib. Although the Version 1 had a Bock nib, and I did not see a great deal of negative reviews on it, I thought the later version might be of interest. The number 805 appears on my clip version, while 803 appears on the version without a clip. The gold clip matches the colour of the nib. The clip is tight and fits easily within a man’s shirt pocket. I, also, ordered this pen to accompany my ’YES World Watch II’ from YES Watch Company. The gold on the Micarta Version 2 closely matches the rose gold on the YES watch. The pen has several unique stampings in black to the top of the cap (company logo), and around the base of the cap (Chinese lettering and TWSBI). All are indiscreet, while providing classic styling to the nature of the pen. The Micarta cap and body colour are matching on my pen. The Micarta material feels like a smooth pleasant resinous wood. I do not detect any odors emanating from the Micarta pen or barrel. I don’t find the pen to look like a ‘cigar' or appear as 'utilitarian’. It has a unique pleasant styling, which reminds me of visits to the Japanese gardens. I would not mind taking this pen with me to the gardens, but would not take a similar Japanese handmade wood pen, which costs 15 to 20 times as much, outside the house. The nib is not as wide as most #6 nibs, due to its smaller shoulders, which I prefer. The plastic feed is beautifully proportioned and constructed with a large air channel leading to approximately 15 “comb” serrations. The gold plated nib has the company logo imprinted on the top of the nib, along with scroll designs, the company name, and size of nib. These extras add to the presence of the pen. The tines on this nib, although not obtrusive to visualizing your script, are (in my opinion) long, but then again, I’m used to the #5 nib. The nib and tines are strong to prevent bending. (I write with a “light hand” and let the nib work for me.) Some reviews have stated that the EF Micarta nib writes like a ‘nail’, and does not provide enough flexibility. However, I found that the JoWo nib wrote like a true EF (probably due to The Writing Desk tweaking it), and that there was enough variance to the line, if one did not pressure it to perform like a medium or bold nib. In my opinion, writing with an EF nib takes some finesse and consistency. The rounded EF smooth nib is, also, one of the most forgiving nibs to those of us who print and scribble in notation. I have not experienced any problems with starting the pen during the day or after leaving it over night. Of course, the choice of paper and ink are a determining factor in any pen’s performance. The Micarta is a push-on convertor. It takes a dozen turns to open the barrel and reveal the convertor. I have not detected any leaks from the convertor, although I would prefer a more secure method of attaching the convertor to the pen. I always ink the convertor with a syringe to prevent staining. Four full turns secure the barrel to the cap, which prevents the nib from drying. When holding the pen further back from the grip area, I do not feel any sharpness from the barrel grooves. Although the ‘pen cap’ lacks a metal ‘cap lip’, the strength of the Micarta material should suffice to hold the cap to barrel without cracking or chipping. Also, a 'cap lip' would detract from the modern design of the overall pen. I ordered the EF nib and was not disappointed. I asked The Writing Desk, UK to align and smooth the nib before sending it to the USA. It arrived in MINT condition and performed perfectly with Sailor Epinard green ink. The EF Micarta V2 is presented in a specially designed TWSBI notebook 162mm x 190mm graph paper. Some pen enthusiasts have ordered other nibs from Pendleton Brown, Anderson, and Delta. The Delta Fusion Nib, and the TWSBI Vac 700 will, also, fit this pen. Best Writings To You, coffeetoofull