Everyday Carry Giveaway: Revisiting Ian Schon’s “The Pen Project”

I’ve been thinking of revisiting some of the pens I reviewed in the past to see how my original opinions and experiences have held up. Ian Schon handed me the perfect opportunity to do just that by sending along one of his aluminum “The Pen Project” pens.

Since I already own one of Ian’s pens (I backed his Kickstarter project) and it’s still going strong, THIS pen will end up in the hands of one of my readers. Yes, this is a follow-up review AND a giveaway. (Thank you, Ian.)

My EDC tools
My EDC tools. (Mmmmm…lobstah!)

When Brad Dowdy (Sir Pen Addict) recently asked for EDC pen recommendations, I tweeted “The Pen Project” without a moment’s hesitation. I reviewed this pen back in October 2012, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s been in my front pocket almost every day since I received it. And on the odd day when I forget to carry it, I feel a little bit undressed— like when I forget my watch or earrings. Shudder.

Fisher pressurized refill

I wrote the rough draft of this review in my sloppy, “just get it down” handwriting on plain old office supply cabinet paper because this is a pen primarily designed to be used on the fly— when you need to sign for a delivery, make a quick note in your pocket notebook, or jot down some directions. This pen shines in its ability to remain unobtrusive until you need it, then work without fail, thanks to the Fisher pressurized refill. I’m probably not going to sit down, pull out my best paper, and write a letter with this pen (the refill is quite good but not my hands down favorite), but for my “throughout the day” needs, it’s simply perfect.

Brass set screw

As noted in my original review, Ian’s pen is compact, but extends to a comfortable size for writing when the threaded cap is posted. It’s meant to be used, not babied. Mine is starting to pick up some fine surface scratches and dings— a bit of character— from living in my pocket with coins and keys and a tiny Leatherman tool. That said, the pen has held up extremely well considering the length of time I’ve been carrying it. (If only I looked so good.)

Posted pen

Ian now offers three versions of his pen, which he describes as follows:

  • Aluminum (DSGN #0001)– $58.00; Machined and finished in small batches with a high level of precision and care from American sourced materials. These weigh 1 ounce.
  • Black Anodized (DSGN #0001B)– $64.00; These aluminum pens are anodized by a local (MA) vendor and have a very  uniform look and smooth feel.
  • Titanium (DSGN #0001T)– $320.00; These are made from domestically sourced grade 5 titanium, which is precision machined and finished by hand. The set screws are made by one of the oldest screw manufacturers in Massachusetts and are hard gold plated. These weigh 1.8 ounce. LIMITED RUN of 200 pens. 

Take a peek into Ian’s website and workshop HERE. (I always enjoy Ian’s videos.)

My original review, which includes details for changing the refill, etc., can be found HERE.

Machined detail
Machined detail

The minimalist/timeless design, quality materials and workmanship, and perform-through-anything refill makes this my go-to EDC pen. That was true in 2012, and it’s still true now.

My pen and the giveaway pen
The well-protected giveaway pen and my well-used pen

Now for the fun part…the GIVEAWAY!! YOU can win one of Ian’s aluminum pens (DSGN #0001)!!

  • Open to US and International readers!
  • Leave ONE comment on this post—maybe tell me about YOUR favorite EDC tools.
  • The contest closes on Wednesday March 19th at 11:59 pm.
  • All names will be placed into a New England Patriots cap (these ARE Massachusetts born pens, after all), and my impartial husband will pick the winning name from the hat on Thursday March 20th.
  • The winner will be contacted by email and will have one week to respond with a mailing address. In the event that there is no response within a week, a second name will be drawn from the same hat.

May the EDC pen gods be with you!

Ian Schon graciously donated the pen for this giveaway. I was not compensated in any way, and this review reflects my own experiences with Ian’s pen. 

___________________

EDITED TO ADD: WINNER ANNOUNCED!

A name has been pulled from the New England Patriots cap and it is……

jmreekes

“I would love to win this. My EDC pen is a Kaweco Al Sport rollerball & at work lately it’s been a Render K. Work EDC varies between a Render K & one of about 7 Retro 51 Tornadoes”

I’ve contacted the winner by email. Should I not receive an address within one week, an alternate winner will be selected.

Thanks to all who commented!

EDC: The Pen Project

I’m strangely fascinated by EDC (everyday carry) photos…those pictures of the daily “essentials” that people carry in their pockets or bags or purses. I’m ESPECIALLY drawn to the ones featuring pens and notebooks (as opposed to knives and phones and watches), which is not the least bit shocking, I know.

So when I stumbled onto The Pen Project (by Ian Schon) on Kickstarter (love his video), I signed up in a nanosecond. Well, quickly, anyway. Ian is an engineering student who designed the perfect EDC pen. Mine arrived a few weeks ago, and it truly is carried every day. I have one of those “all other duties as assigned” jobs, and folks are always passing along issues while I’m running around. I FINALLY learned to carry an index card or two to jot down these “on the fly” notes, so having a pen AT ALL TIMES is essential. This pen has been a godsend. It’s with me, but it’s not in my way.


Ian Schon’s pen and my Leatherman Micra…both EDC

Designed and machined in Massachusetts, the pen is 100% USA made, including the Fisher Space Pen refill (which is made in NV). I was immediately drawn to the minimalist look, and impressed with the thought and work that Ian put into the design. It’s as impressive in hand as it is in concept.

The closed pen measures just shy of four inches…nicely compact…but extends to just under six inches when the cap is screwed onto the back of the body, making it full-size for writing.


Transformed for writing

The body is made of an aluminum alloy, and features a brass setscrew, which is removed to replace the Fisher refill. (I use my little Leatherman to do that.) Because the body is fully sealed, there’s no risk of the pen coming apart, or uncapped, in your pocket.


Brass setscrew. Nice accent and functional.

Popping in a new refill is as easy as removing the setscrew, pressing down on the tip of the old refill to loosen it, then replacing the refill and the screw. And because the pen takes the Fisher Space Pen refill, I can take notes in zero gravity, upside down, and in extreme cold and heat. In case, you know, there is a need to do so. This is a refill that you can rely on, no matter WHAT your day throws at you.


Disassembled

Ian’s pen is made to be used AND to last. And last. And last a little longer. How rare that is, and how refreshing.

Do you have an EDC pen? I’d love to know.

Neither cold nor heat nor grease nor zero gravity shall keep me from writing: A Review of the Fisher Space Pen

I had a Fisher Space Pen YEARS ago. It was a silver-colored retractable and though I thought the concept was cool, writing with it was not. The ink was so blobby that my letters and notes (and fingers) looked like I’d dabbled in a bit of tar while writing. Not a good memory.  And as one does when one has a bad experience, I shunned the product. Ick, I’d think, when I saw them on the rack at Staples, then I’d have a bunch of smeared finger flashbacks. *shudder*

But then the Fisher Space Pen (FSP…much quicker to type) started cropping up in a bunch of respected and discerning pen review blogs (Hi, penaddict.com!). Since decades have passed since I wallowed in the tar, I plunked down a little birthday money and picked up the FSB (black matte bullet model).

What a difference a handful of decades makes.  This FSP is a blast to use…very minimalist and compact. Because it’s clipless, it can roll off  of a desk or counter, but I really like the stripped down look. I think a clip would get in the way, visually.

The pen came with a medium black refill which wrote fine (I mean, okay), but was a little broader than I like. After a few weeks, I swapped out that refill for a fine point and am happier with the writing experience (though fine feels like medium, which is probably why medium felt like broad.) I plan to stick with the fine refills from here on out.

The pen feels sturdy and well-made, and even though I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket with change and keys and a pocket knife, the finish is still pristine.

The back of the FSP package gives a brief history of the pen, as well as a view of its “guts.” This is where you can read about the gas plug and sliding float, the thixotropic ink, and the ultra-hard tungsten carbide ball, if you’re into such things.

From the package: When astronauts began to explore the reaches of outer space, Paul Fisher realized that there was no existing pen which could perform in its freezing cold, boiling hot vacuum. [Sounds like my house throughout the seasons.]

Countless experiments and a common sense approach to findings resulted in the invention of the sealed and pressurized Fisher Space Pen cartridge and in 1967, after 18 months of rigorous testing by NASA, the Space Pen was selected for use by the astronauts.

The packaging goes on to say that if you’re not satisfied (Lifetime Guarantee!), return the pen directly to Paul C. Fisher for repair or replacement. See?

Turns out Paul C. Fisher passed away in 2006, so mailing it “directly” to him is a little tricky (what’s the zip?!), but you get the drift.

Now for the best part…the writing experience. Gone are the thick blobs that so plagued my memory of this pen. The line is smoother and darker than I remember, and definitely cleaner.

I’m now a fan.

Not only is the writing experience on plain old paper very good, but the pen ALSO promises to write in all kinds of extreme conditions…from -30 to +250 degrees, through greasy, wet, or zero-gravity conditions, even upside-down. Writing letters on a trapeze, in the rain, while eating french fries, on a hot summer day? No problem.

Reliable, is what it is.

So while I may never be THAT hot or THAT cold or lacking gravity, I may find myself in a chilly car or writing at a weird angle and for those times, I have the go-to pen.

Having a plain old luke-warm, full-gravity day? Well, it’s fine for that, too.

Paul C. Fisher, I salute you, wherever you are.