Just Right: The Karas Kustoms EDK

Right here on my desk, there’s a sizable (and ever-growing) collection of Karas Kustoms pens within arm’s reach. Render Ks, Fountain Ks, Bolts, Retrakts, INKs—all at the ready. All well-loved. I simply can’t resist their hearty, machined goodness. But lately, the Karas Kustoms offering I reach for most often is the EDK.

Karas Kustoms EDK

Why is that?

Let’s take a look.

Size comparison

At just over 5″ (12.9 cm), the EDK is the shortest of the Karas Kustoms pen models, and, man, does it feel perfect in my hand. The EDK is stubby and thick, in all the right ways. My anodized black aluminum pen is substantial and well-balanced. At 28 grams, it’s not too heavy, not too light. Every time I pick up it up, the pen pleasure center in my brain lights up.

Size comparison vs. pencils

Much like a wood case pencil that’s been used down to just the right size, or the thick and perfectly weighted Lamy Scribble (love this mechanical pencil), the EDK is a pen that’s instantly comfortable—like a pair of well-worn jeans or broken-in sandals.

Knock and knurling

The retractable mechanism—or “knock”—is the same one found on the Retrakt. It’s nearly silent, smooth, and reliable. The Karas Kustoms website warns that compulsive clicking can damage the inner mechanism, but because there’s no audible “click” with which to annoy your friends and loved ones, the urge to engage in this type of behavior is reduced (for the most part).

The machined knurling at this end of the pen is a subtle and classic detail. I’m always a little happier when a pen includes some knurling.

Grooved barrel

The anodizing on my all-black pen is super smooth and flawless. I’ve been carrying and using the pen a lot and have yet to mar the finish. The grooved barrel provides visual interest, but doesn’t seem to influence the grip one way or another. That said, I don’t find the EDK to be a particularly slippery pen, despite its satiny smooth finish.

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The clip is pure Karas Kustoms. Formed from stainless steel and attached to the pen body with two hex screws, this clip is very snug, very sturdy. It’s certainly not going anywhere, but still exhibits just enough “give” to allow the pen to be clipped into a pocket or case.

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But none of these details matter if the pen body doesn’t house a quality refill. Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great joy! (Oh, wait…that’s a completely different story.) But there is joy, as the guys at Karas Kustoms wisely decided to build the EDK around the Schmidt P8126, a liquid ink refill that glides over paper like an…ummm…exceptionally glidey thing. I’m usually writing on Rhodia paper or my stash of (discontinued) Levenger Vivacious freeleaf note pads and the experience is sublime—rich, dark, and smooth.

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This Karas Kustoms EDK is a comfortable pen with classic good looks and an excellent refill. Not to go all Goldilocks on you, but this is a pen that’s “just right.”

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I purchased the EDK reviewed here with my own funds. There was no cajoling or haranguing or arm-twisting by anyone at Karas Kustoms to provide a review. I’m just a total Karas Kustoms fan girl…and proud of it. 

You  can check out all of the Karas Kustoms machined pens at http://karaskustoms.com/pens.html

“It’s Quality Bro!”

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A Vacation In a Pen: The Woodsmen by Bear Claw Woodcraft

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My cousins own this charming little camp in Long Lake, NY. Though tiny, it has everything you need to step away from the world without sacrificing comfort— a cute little kitchen, a strong hot shower, a wood stove. In order to get or make cellphone calls, I have to walk down their road, head to the bridge in town, and stand in just the right spot. That, honestly, is the best feature— being inaccessible. I’m never happier than when we’re vacationing at their camp.

There’s scenery…

The Wild Center

and trails…

Newcomb Trails

places to rest…

Charlie Scout, and Boo

and the world’s best pie from the Noonmark Diner

Raspberry Crumble pie

When we spend even just a few days at their camp, I feel my breath returning to a slower, deeper rhythm, my neck and shoulders unclenching, and a feeling of calm seep into almost every cell in my body. There’s no such thing as a stress headache in Long Lake. I’m pretty sure they’ve been outlawed by the town board.

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The Woodsmen ballpoint pen by Bear Claw Woodcraft has become a real favorite, not just because it takes my favorite ballpoint refill— the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000— but because its rustic carved body transports me to those lazy days in the Adirondacks. The look, the feel, and even the smell, remind me of the woods and of days without appointments and stress. This pen, I’m convinced, lowers my blood pressure every time I use it.

Bolt action

At 44 g, this is a weighty but well-balanced pen. The antiqued brass hardware looks right at home against the carved walnut barrel, and has proven to be sturdy and durable. The bolt action works easily with just my thumb, making it as convenient as a clicky pen, but certainly more fun. Need something to fiddle with in a meeting that just won’t end? This is your pen.

Carved body

Touted as being the only carved pen on the market, this is where the pen fits me perfectly. I love the rustic, but smooth, feel of the walnut body in my hand. There’s character and workmanship and the great smell of the natural oils used to finish the wood. This pen hits all of my Adirondack-loving buttons.

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The tiny wood-burned detail reminds me of a trail marker and our daily hikes on the Newcomb Visitors Center trails, where the smell of pine and the sound of loons means we’re far far away from our loaded inboxes. Bliss.

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The Woodsmen takes Parker-style refills, so if the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 isn’t your thing, there are other options available (e.g., Fisher Space Pen refill, Moleskine gel refill, etc.). Priced at a very reasonable $46, Gabriel offers a pen that writes, feels, and even smells great. When I hunker down at my desk for a day of work, the Woodsmen reminds me of those warm summer days full of sun and relaxation, of pine trees and campfires and, of course, pie.

The Woodsmen is a vacation in a pen.

For another review of the same pen, check out this post by Matthew Morse. His post was the one that prompted me to buy this pen. Thanks for the nudge, Matthew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tomoe River Rival: Life Writing Paper

Life Writing Paper

On a recent JetPens order, where I picked up a fistful of Pilot Juice pens (so good!), I randomly decided to throw a pad of Life Writing Paper into my cart. I’m not sure why, as I’ve been more than satisfied using Tomoe River Paper for the bulk of my letter writing. But, you know, the thrill of the hunt and all that.

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The other evening, I needed some pen-therapy so I collected a bunch of inked pens and tested out my new paper.

Made in Japan, JetPens calls this paper “luxuriously smooth” and says that it “resists ink feathering and bleed-through and doesn’t get roughed from the use of an eraser.” This “Bank Paper” pad is said to be durable and high quality, according to Life.

And to all of that I say, “YES!”

Life Writing Paper

The Life Writing Paper is heavier than Tomoe River Paper, but exhibits the same qualities that have endeared Tomoe River to so many of us. I’ve confirmed that all of the claims appear to be true. Every pen I used, from a fine Pilot Custom 74 to a bold TWSBI ECO, behaved exemplary. No feathering, no bleed-through, but still a LOT of sheen.

Writing samples

I have a terrible time trying to capture the sheen in the same way that my eyes see it, but trust me, this paper is just as good as Tomoe River in that regard, at least with the pens and inks I’ve tested. [Click on any photo to enlarge it, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.]

Writing samples

Emerald of Chivor’s sheen looks more dramatic in person, but you can get a sense of how it looks in a couple of my photos.

Writing samples

Sailor Yama Dori sheens like crazy, too.

Life Writing Paper

This 100-sheet pad of Life Writing Paper measures 5.7″ x 7.9″ (14.4 cm x 20 cm), which is slightly smaller than the standard A5 size. I love the size and find it much more convenient to carry than the large sheets of Tomoe River Paper. The pad is bound with glue, and pages tear off neatly every single time. One page of pink blotter paper is also included with the pad. I haven’t found dry times to be any more of an issue than with Tomoe River Paper, and they may, in fact, be a bit quicker. That’s just my impression. I can’t back it up with actual data at this point.

Hello, Life Writing Paper!

How glad I am that I tossed this Life Writing Pad Paper into my JetPens cart at the last moment. It’s quickly become a favorite (in case you couldn’t tell). I love the Tomoe River Paper in my Hobonichi Techo, but for letter writing, the convenient size of this pad coupled with the paper’s outstanding characteristics, makes it a very real rival to our beloved Tomoe River Paper.

Here’s to Life!

Life Writing Paper is available at JetPens where a 100-sheet pad costs $19.50. Not cheap, but, to me, it’s well worth the money. The paper reviewed here was purchased with my own funds, on a whim. Yay for whims!