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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I’ve Been Remiss: TactileTurn’s Mover & Shaker

Mover & Shaker

I’ve been remiss. I should’ve reviewed these pens ages ago but they’ve become such staples in my daily pen arsenal that I let them slip below my pen review radar. The Mover and Shaker by Will Hodges, of Tactile Turn, deserve mention.

Disassembled Shaker

I’ve always had a little trouble remembering which pen is the Mover and which is the Shaker. (Perhaps I should spend more time on Sudoku puzzles to keep my mind nimble.) Eventually I came up with a little trick—the Shaker is shorter, running 5.1″ (129 mm). SHaker = SHorter. Problem solved. The Shaker takes Parker style refills. Right now I’m using a Moleskine 0.5 mm gel refill, though I’ve been known to swap in a Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 for an excellent ballpoint experience.

Mover disassembled

The Mover measures 5.5″ (141 mm), making it the longer of the two. Despite the added length, the pen remains very well balanced and is just as comfortable to hold as the squattier Shaker. I have 0.38 mm Pilot G2 refill in mine, which lays down a super crisp and consistent line.

Machined clips

Both pens live in one of my “goes to work with me” Nock Co. pen cases and are used often. I remain enamored with Mike Bond’s Ti2 Techliner so that gets heavy use as well, but I do plenty of writing in and out of work, so it’s easy to give multiple pens a workout in the course of a day. I use both the Mover and Shaker in my Five Year journal as the fine tips allow me to squeeze sufficient detail into the day’s limited space.

Almost seamless

Will’s pens are solid and rattle-free. The “break” in the pen—where you twist the two halves apart to change the refill—is just about invisible. (See the photo above of as evidence.) The look is so seamless that I always have to remind myself where exactly the pens twist apart. The look is clean and tight.

Knocks

The knock is the silent variety, just like the one on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt. Since I’m a compulsive clicker, this features keeps co-workers from wanting to strangle me. The action is always smooth and trouble-free. Every click goes off without a hitch.

Grooved grips

The finely grooved grip areas— a stand-out feature on Will’s pens—look cool, feel great, and make for a wonderfully subtle slip-free writing experience. This grip area is the part of the pen that sets the Mover and Shaker apart from many other machined pens.

Grooved grips

Will Hodges ran a smooth Kickstarter project and delivered a pair of solid, understated machined pens. They’re 100% reliable, very comfortable, totally solid and problem-free.

Mover and Shaker

The Mover and Shaker are so good that I found myself taking them for granted, and I TOTALLY mean that as a compliment.

Sorry, Will!

Four Pens I Can’t Put Down

Four favorites

I have a pretty short attention span when it comes to pens— using a favorite for awhile, then moving on to something different/newer/shinier. Later on, I re-discover the old favorite and bring it back into the pen fold. So there’s always been a pretty decent turnover rate in my day-to-day pen usage.

Four pens

Until now.

I just can’t get enough of these four favorites.

Throughout the course of a week (or day…or hour), I find opportunities to use all of these exceptionally well-made machined pens. I cart them to and from work, journal with them, fill out my datebook(s), and make grocery lists.

They’re just so good.

Ti2 Techliner Shorty

The Ti2 Techliner Shorty (Gonzodized finish) by Ti2 Design is the newest of the bunch and features neodymium magnets, as well as an unconventional nosecone, that make this pen extra fascinating. With an Uni-ball Signo UMR-85N 0.5 mm black refill installed, this has become my go-to Field Notes pen for tracking work and home to-dos.

Karas Kustoms Retrakt

This stunning and classic looking two-tone Retrakt, by Karas Kustoms, arrived in November, and I immediately outfitted it with a Pilot Juice 0.38 mm blue-black refill. The line is super sharp— perfect for jotting down appointments and making entries in my One Line A Day journal. Killer looks, killer performance. Plus knurling. Cannot resist the knurling.

Mover & Shaker

I’ve been using my TactileTurn Mover and Shaker pens since they arrived following Will Hodges’ successful Kickstarter campaign. I should’ve reviewed these long ago, but they’re so good and trouble-free that I almost take them for granted. I’m currently using a Pilot G2 0.38 mm black refill in the Mover (top/red), and a 0.5 mm black Moleskine refill in the Shaker (bottom/raw aluminum). When I’m in the mood for a ballpoint, I swap a Parker-style Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 into the Shaker. They’re rock solid, with a finely grooved grip section for interest and texture.

Four favorites

Each of these pens deserves its own review, and I promise to do so in the near future. But for now, I just wanted to heap some praise where praise is due— on Mike Bond of Ti2 Design, Dan Bishop of Karas Kustoms, and Will Hodges of TactileTurn.

They’ve all run successful and well-managed Kickstarter projects and continue to turn out pens that exemplify attention to detail and good old quality workmanship.

And they’re all really nice guys.

Four favorites

Four favorites. Four pens I just can’t put down.

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I purchased all of four pens with my very own allowance.

There are no affiliate links in this post, just happy pen smiles.

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. 

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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!