Crestwood Creations Roller Ball Pen Review

Gifted pens are the best. At Christmas my brother was kind enough to gift me a Crestwood Creations pen that he had worked for. It’s true worth to me is a treasured gift from my brother and as I pulled it apart after the hustle and bustle of Christmas day I was pretty impressed with the quality of the pen.

I conversed will Billy Reed, the face behind Crestwood Creations, through Social media and he has just finished up a shop remodel but he asked for referrals to his facebook page. I hope he’ll post up some pictures of other pens he has done soon. He does beautiful work.

  • Material: Wood body – Plastic and Metal mechanicals
  • Refill: Parker Size
  • Length Overall: 5 1/4″
  • Weight: 40.9 grams

This is commonly referred to as a kit pen, a maker orders a kit that includes all the pen internals from a few well-known suppliers then adds the material for the body, section and cap depending on the style of the pen. This is not as easy as it sounds and the quality of kit pens, both the inside mechanicals and the craftsmanship of the finished product varies greatly. I know because I have made kit pens and though they are fun they take some work to get just right. The quality of my builds don’t come near what Billy has put together. The model I received is called the Sierra which is a twist rollerball with a long plastic section and a beautifully finished body of cherry wood.  For the wood fans out there the burl is usually the most figuative part of the tree and provides the best character in my opinion.

Billy includes a neat little business card with the specifics of your pen. That was interesting to know the raw materials and I have a soft spot for wood pens.

The finish is thick and smooth and I don’t see any tool or finishing marks on the pen anywhere. Nice job.

The really good news for me, besides a beautifully finished pen, is the mechanicals inside take a standard parker size refill so I swapped in one of my favorites, a longtime favorite, the Schmidt 9000M. The Schmidt 8126 was a touch too big around to fit in the pen body but I like the 9000M a lot and it really turned this pen into a great writer.

Conclusion

If you reach out to Billy over at Crestwood Creations I’m sure he will enjoy working with you to make you a Sierra model or another style that you like.

Remember: Write something nice……

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Faber-Castell Ondoro Fountain Pen Review

Uncapped on standAbout a year ago I yielded my first Faber-Castell Fountain pen in a trade with fellow pen blogger JB over at the Gentleman Stationer. He was very gracious to let me try out a few of his pens and in return I hope he enjoyed the Waterman I sent his way. I really fell in love with the looks and design of the Faber-Castell Ambition he sent. I didn’t realize until later how much I enjoyed the smooth bold nib.

Since then I have shopped the Faber-Castell line and learned I liked a lot of their designs. I think distinctive is a good word for them. I decided that an Ondoro would be my next FC addition.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and I heard from a super nice lady, Lucy over The Pen Company in the UK. We struck up a conversation via email and I ended up with the opportunity to review an Ondoro. In my research I learned it came in a wooden body they call Smoked Oak. I like the natural feel of wood so I was hooked.

The Pen Company was a delight to work with. Friendly, quick and personal communications. I was surprised with a faster than expected delivery time from the UK down to Florida. Upon receipt it didn’t take me long to ink this one up and offer you the summary of my experience:

The Pen

Capped on standFaber-Castell Ondoro Fountain Pen

  • Smoked Oak Wooden Body
  • Also available in several colors of resin
  • Stainless Steel Broad Nib
  • Street Price $150.00
  • 5.05” capped
  • 4.83” uncapped
  • .55” Body Diameter
  • .63” Cap Diameter
  • 44.65 grams with ink in converter

Packaging

Packaging is probably on the higher end of the price point. A slip case within a slip case, supports to present the pen and a nice little ribbon pull on the inner most case. I suspect all the packaging comes in white, regardless of the pen model. Keeps in generic but I would still call it classy.

Packaging1Packaging2Overall Appearance

I stand by my descriptor of distinction for the Ondoro’s appearance. It may not draw huge attention laying on the table in the board room but the definitive hexagonal shape of the body and matching cap is not common. After a couple of closer looks from colleagues, I was answering a few questions about my latest acquisition. All were favorable. It’s a look I enjoy even better in person than I could see on the various web photos. The satin sheen finish on the wood barrel gives the pen a formal office study type look. Not feminine or manly just like a fine piece of furniture. The chrome cap is bold but not garish. I think the size proportion with the body is what makes the very different surfaces work well together. A subtle GERMANY stamp on the edge of the clip and the Faber-Castell logo are both subtle favorable touches on the overall look of the pen.

whole pen uncapped 3Fit and Finish

Construction and quality are top notch. Threads in the wood body come by a brass insert that is smooth and should last forever. Cap is of the snap on variety and there is no gaps or wiggling when the pen is capped. Considering the pen is really made from a tree the finish and edges on the wood body are consistent and sharp. A+ in my book.

Whole Pen apart 2Cap and NibErgonomics

This is a fatter than average pen, not an exceptionally long pen so if you like heft in your writing tools without a lot of weight the Ondoro could work. Looking at the pen on online the hexagonal edges of the pen did not look as pronounced. When I first opened the box and saw the pen it looked very angular and I was concerned they would be uncomfortable. My fears were proven wrong the first time I held the pen. You can feel the six corners of the pen, no mistake, but it is not uncomfortable at all. The weight of the pen fits me very well (I am not a poster) and the curve of the section where the wood connects with the nib is nicely concave and a good rest for my index finger. My grip is conventional so no surprise that the design works well for me. The feel of the wood is wonderful. I would say warm though I suspect I would need a long writing session for the surface temperature to actually raise.

Cap

The cap is stout, chrome, and a hexagonal shaped match to the rest of the pen body. The cap diameter is consistent over the whole length and it’s a slightly larger diameter than the pen body. I am not a cap poster but this cap will post and has a plastic insert to protect the pen body. With wood being a relatively soft material the pressure fit of the posting cap could cause some slight indentation in the wood body over time. Additionally the cap is not lightweight so posting will significantly alter the balance of the pen. That balance being a personal preference I can only comment I like it un-posted. A little unusual is the cap being  a snap on type compared to the more popular threaded cap. That doesn’t take anything away from the pen, deployment is probably a slight bit quicker and the quality of the cap fit is excellent.

cap3Clip

The clip is ok but not my favorite aspect of the Ondoro. What I call the ramp, is too small, making it hard to clip the pen on to anything thicker than a file folder. Once clipped is does an acceptable job. Aesthetically I don’t think it’s ugly or takes anything away from the pen but just not the best execution I’ve seen. On some pens the clip is good for an anti-roll device but nothing short of a category 3 hurricane will get this pen rolling on your desk. Photography was easy as long as you were happy with one of 6 angles. The tiny GERMANY stamp on the side of the clip is a nice touch.

Nib

The nib doesn’t disappoint in the distinctive area either. The design stays clear of the more traditional scroll work and replaces it with a dot theme. With my untrained eye through magnification everything looks aligned and the writing experience supports that. I would put the brand new out of box nib performance of my Faber-Castell in the top 3 pens I have purchased and the other two were a lot more expensive.

nib2nibInk Supply

The Ondoro takes standard international cartridges and includes a standard converter. I always pay special attention to converters that press fit on to a nib section. A cartridge typically gets one fitting on the section then you throw it away after it runs dry. The fitting and seal of a typical converter must last, and seal, much longer. The converter supplied with the Ondoro doesn’t go so far as threads but it does require a bit of a twist to get it seated. It builds confidence with me even if it may technically not make the seal any better.

Conclusion

I rarely shop for pen just based on looks. I have some pens that I think are pretty but rarely is that my primary criteria. The Faber-Castell Ondoro is an exception to that pattern. I had a bit of confidence in the Faber-Castell line based on my experience with the Ambition so I went solely on looks for this model in their line. I loved the shape and design, no regrets, when it reached my desk. I have made a few pens out of wood in the past and have always liked the texture and feel of a wood writing instrument so the oak material is a hit for me there as well. Since receiving the Ondoro my pen rotation has dropped to only three pens, the lowest daily arsenal in a couple of years for me. I just keep reaching for the beautiful German wood pen, I really love it that much.

And, if you need a good pen dealer with personal and prompt service check out The Pen Company. They are based in the UK and tell Lucy I said hello, great people to work with.

How about you, any experience with the Faber-Castell line?

Remember: Write something nice……

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