Review – Pilot Kakuno

I practice penvangelism as often as I can. I will engage anyone that is even remotely interested in pens, just ask my sister. I take every opportunity to grow the hobby and hopefully introduce others to the joy I experience writing with a fountain pen. I haven’t found too many people that would just go out and buy a fountain pen after a brief conversation. If they did I’m afraid all they would find is about a $50 Cross brand at a major big box office supply store. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Cross pens, I own a few that I enjoy very much but $50 is still a little much for someone undecided if nibs and refillable ink is really for them or not.

To support my outreach I am always on the lookout for good entry level pens at a price that is comfortable for gifting and a writing experience that inspires further exploration. Much has been written about the Lamy Safari and my favorite, the Pilot Metropolitan . Nearly universally both are accepted as the go to entry level pens that are a step up from the Varsity / Plumix lines. The Pilot is my favorite and I have supported Pilot often with my penvangelism efforts.

Reading The Pen Addict the other day I saw that Pilot has come back to the entry level table with a new, at least to the USA, Pilot Kakuno. In Japanese Kakuno means to “To Write”. How appropriate. The aesthetics of this pen probably lean more towards school aged youngsters but my take on that is it’s just a fun looking pen. The advantage to a new Fountain pen user is it’s not quite as intimidating as the almost identically priced and mechanically similar Pilot Metropolitan.

I quickly ordered mine and Jet Pens got it to me in a hurry so let’s get on with the review

The Pen:

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Pilot Kakuno Fountain Pen

  • Steel Medium Nib
  • Color: Orange / Gray
  • Street Price: $16.50
  • 5 1/8” capped
  • 5” uncapped
  • 6 1/4” Posted

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Packaging

Packaging is simple and effective with an obvious Japanese market focus. The cap is removed in the packaging to show off the cool smiley faced nib. The packaging is not designed to be reused and for me it’s recycle bin material. This is different than the nearly identically priced Metropolitan which comes with more traditional pen packaging that defies its entry level cost.

Overall Appearance

A nice looking pen with the lean towards fun and casual. It would work in a corporate business meeting without a lot of attention but I don’t think anyone would call it elegant.

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Ergonomics

The body and cap are a six sided plastic construction with good rounding on the corners. You can feel the hexagon shape in your hand but it is in no way uncomfortable. From the body you travel down through the cap area to the feed and you get a similar hexagon shape but with a slight taper that gives your fingers a natural place to rest. A great job.

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Cap

The cap is unique. It’s a contrasting color to the body which gives the pen it’s fun/casual look without being gaudy or tacky. It’s a snap on style cap that has a positive detent with no play when snapped on. The cap stays on without being hard to remove. There is no clip but at the head of the cap are round indentations that give you a good gripping area to pull the cap off. Nice touch and it adds to the overall aesthetics. Another nice feature is a small anti-roll tab on the cap which doesn’t get in the way but serves a good purpose. The cap posts well and with the all plastic construction weight and balance is not an issue.

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In this price range I would not have expected a threaded cap. This one seems to seal well so I don’t think it will have any drying out issues. Sometimes I prefer a snap on cap for the benefit of the quick deployment it allows. Pocket to writing time is less than a threaded cap.

Clip

Not much to say here since there is no clip. Seems odd to me but it doesn’t take anything away from the pen, I still really like it. But if you need a clip this one is probably a pass for you.

Filling System

My pen came with a standard Pilot cartridge and I suspect it would accept any Pilot compatible converter. After installing the cartridge ink began to flow to the paper in a reasonable amount of time. For the beginner I think cartridge is the way to go before moving into a converter and bottled ink if fountain pens really start taking up space on your desk.

Nib

The nib is a standard steel construction with a rather cheery smile engraved on it. Fun touch. The Kakuno line comes with a choice of a M or F. The loupe look of my medium shows the tines well aligned and the feed centered.

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Writing

The writing experience is very smooth on a wide variety of popular paper. Smooth without being motor oil on glass. The pen never skipped and in spite of some intentional long pauses with the cap off and the nib pointing up it was never slow to start. Oh how I wish some of my other pens could learn a lesson or two here. I’m impressed.

Conclusion

I like this pen. I would never hesitate to throw it in my pocket or bag as a great knock around pen that I could count on to write every time. I like the fun look, the snap on and off cap and it’s just a great smooth writer. It will stay on my Jet Pens wish list waiting for my next gifting opportunity.

Any entry level gifter pens you really like?

Remember: Write something nice……

Listening while you write

I enjoy writing with my fountain pens. Most readers of this blog can probably attest or confess to one being in touch with our pens. Rotating their use, uncapping them, writing with them and even cleaning them. Much like when we drive our cars, we are familiar with the noises it makes and how it feels over bumps and the like. When we feel or hear something different we take notice.

Recently I was working on a daily journal entry with my newer Conklin Nozak. (the One on the left)

3 new pensI didn’t care for how the pen wrote when I first got it so I shipped it off to Yafa and they got it right and back to me. I have enjoyed it ever since, including this recent experience.

This was not the first time I had written with it since I got it back so I was a bit surprised when about a halfway through my page I started hearing nib squeaks and little noises coming from the pen.  I carried on as the ink was laying down very well and I was getting no skips but as I wrote the noise varied just a little and began to really irritate me. I applied pressure to the nib, I twisted the pen, I shook the pen to get the noise but I couldn’t duplicate it on demand. It was just there while I wrote off and on.  I took the pen apart and checked the converter, all was good there. I tried to unseat the nib but it was plenty tight.

I finished my journal entry quite bummed about my new pen going bad again after a very short tenure putting a smile on my face.  I capped the pen and set it down in my desk holder next to its brothers and sisters. Then with a bit of frustration my fists slapped the desk slightly and I HEARD THE NOISE while my pen sat stationery 8” away. I know….you’re on the edge of you seat…..I need to take a break for some commercials but I’ll be right back..[end / struggling blogger humor]

I looked down at my hands and a huge smile formed on my face and nearly a laugh out loud. You see earlier in the day I experienced a micro small scratch on my right pinky. I didn’t want to stain my journal so I looked in my desk but found no adhesive bandages of the BandAid brand so next best thing was some cellophane tape of the Scotch brand. I wrapped my finger as a first aid emergency and went on to write. Well apparently as I wrote the flexing of my pinky was pulling off the ends of the tape and making the crinkling noise on the desk. Try balling up a small piece of tape and you’ll hear exactly the noise my pen was making.

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Any funny stories of listening while you write?

Remember: Write something nice……

 

Pens, Woodworking and Smartphones

I love when three of my hobbies can come together on a Saturday afternoon in the workshop.  Below is my love for woodworking, pens and handheld technology coming together as I used a few scraps of Purpleheart wood to make a simple pen holder and matching smartphone stand.  I got to thinking about all the other pretty scraps of exotic wood I have in the shop and all of my smartphone using loved ones.  Then the realization hits that it’s only 9 days until Christmas!

PEN SET

Remember: Write something nice……

Sloppy vs. Neat

I have been journaling daily for almost two years now. I struggled to get started as I worried about my thoughts being in order and could I find time to do it every day. Then I questioned whether my writing was neat enough so that I didn’t ruin this perfectly good stack of paper joined by a nice leather cover.  When I realized my thoughts will probably never even be read by anyone other than me I got over most of these inhibitions and have found my entries have gone pretty smooth for the past year+.

The struggle that still haunts me is my handwriting. I’m one of those dual personality penmanship people. When recording quick notes my hand can keep up and the resulting letter formation is readable without any hints of pretty.  On longer entries my hand does a lousy job keeping up with the speed at which my brain is producing thoughts and wanting to capture said thoughts with pen and ink.

I believe my slow handwriting would be considered neat. I am a grade school printer using upper and lowercase properly. Since my fountain pen obsession began I have tried to reintroduce cursive writing into my daily life but thus far it’s been for niche pieces and fun practice. Unless I reserve more time and make a conscience decision to slow down my daily journal entries are stuffed into an already busy day and the resulting output is my sloppier word formations. I really want to slow down.

Here is my informal study writing the nearly identical passage twice. The first time is written as I thought it and the second time is just a copy over as I slowed down and tried to write it neatly. The time it took nearly doubled.  That doesn’t surprise me but does motivate me to keep practicing NEAT.

Sloppy vs Neat Writing

In the pen online world I have seen some beautiful handwriting. How about you?  Are you dual personality or do you tend to reside on one side of the neatness fence or the other?

Remember: Write something nice……

My Fountain Pen eBay Auction Win

I really enjoyed eBay when it was dominated by many small time sellers making up an online flea market back in 1999. I signed on about that time when I was enjoying the hunt to rebuild my childhood matchbox car collection. Today eBay has gone the route of many flea markets by morphing into a large discount outlet for all kinds of new products. Not a bad thing just different.

I still buy a fair amount from eBay included some pens. I’ve bolstered my collection with some vintage pen finds there and TWSBI has a good presence for their excellent line. My last purchase broke two of my fountain pen acquisition rules. I normally don’t buy pens branded by non-pen companies and I usually don’t buy pens JUST because they are pretty.  I know many non-pen companies sell some great pens it’s just there are so many pen companies I still want represented in my collection that I tend to focus there.  Secondly, I own some pretty pens but I bought them as writers first, pretty second.

I have been a Levenger fan for many years and tossed a lot of my hard earn coin into their coffers.  Their catalog and product mix just appeal to me. So much that sometimes when my toy budget is in intensive care I hope the Levenger catalog gets lost in the mail. Earlier this year I was surfing the catalog and came across their facet line of fountain pens. I loved the unique design and the Oxblood color really jumped off the page at me. I cut the picture out and carried it around with me as temptation to break my rule on pen company purchases.

Reading a blog article a couple of months again I learned that the Oxblood color was being discontinued. I escalated to full panic mode as now for some reason I HAD to have this pen. A search at Levenger.com confirmed my nightmare, in fact it was discontinued. I crawled into a fetal position and called into work sick for a couple of days. Ok maybe that’s embellished just a bit but I started a search on eBay and over the next month found two for sale by the Levenger outlet.  I bid what I thought was a fair price but I lost both auctions in the final minutes by less than $1 over my highest bid. Now granted the winner could have bid a lot more than I did but that $1 amount still stared me in the face with a large grin that poked fun at me. I considered the fetal position again.

Last week my eBay saved search notification popped up that another Levenger Facet in Oxblood had been listed. My heart skipped a beat as I reviewed the listing. It was the right pen listed by the Levenger outlet again as a refurbished returned item. My acquisition rules went out the window and I placed my bid. I checked in frequently over the following days and as the time drew near I found my browser locked into that page more and more trying to find an angle to insure my win. I set an appointment on my phone and spent the final 3 minutes contracting carpal tunnel syndrome on my index finger as it pressed the F5 refresh key over and over again. I watched the bid counter count down to the last second and I even had another browser window open with a higher bid loaded and ready to hit send in case somebody came in within the last 30 seconds with a higher bid. It was quite exciting in a geeky sort of way. In the end it was quite the non-event with my original high bid being more than sufficient. I suspect most bid watchers figuring why pay almost new price for a refurbished pen.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I got the hoped for YOU WON! email and quickly paid. I tracked the shipment and was very excited when it arrived.  Opening the box I must admit I did pause when I held it for the first time, it was truly a beautiful pen in my eyes.

Levenger Facet

Unfortunately the seller left out the converter and cartridge that was promised in the listing but a quick email confirmed their mistake and they are dropping one in the mail. Thanks to my sister I had some J.Herbin blue/black cartridges that loaded up just right to get me going.  Initially I couldn’t get it to flow but a quick cleaning in the ultrasonic bath turned the nib to a beautiful bold medium wet writer. A little bit of resistance from the nib on paper which I really like but no scratchiness, noise or skipping.

I do wonder about the seller’s definition of refurbished when I had to deep clean the nib to get it to write but all in all I’m extremely happy with the pen and the eBay fun it rekindled.

What is your luck with pens from eBay?

Remember: Write something nice……