The CUBE (or CU13E)

I didn’t plan it this way, but the companies behind the two products I reviewed this week (the Ink and the Display) have combined on a Kickstarter Project.

They’ve combined KarasKustoms love of machined aluminum and Dudek Modern Goods love of pen (or pencil) holders. The Kickstarter campaign is well beyond its goal, so it will be funded. The campaign ends in less than a week, on December 10th.

From the Kickstarter Project:

The name CUBE was born from a combination of two things. Mike Dudek’s (ClickyPost.com) original walnut, 9 hole pen holder is aptly named the “Cube” and the atomic number for the element aluminum is 13, so combine them and you get “CU13E” (the 13 looks like a letter B, get it?).

I haven’t decided which color I want. I’ve been trying to justify backing at the Three Amigos level but I couldn’t do it. The design just doesn’t fit in with my desk, not that I actually try to coordinate things. It will work on my workbench and I don’t have a pen holder there right now. So I’ll need to decide on a color for the one I’ll have coming.

Some prototypes were sent out for review:

Karas Kustoms x Dudek Goods – “CUBE” Pen Holder & Kickstarter Launch | edjelley.com

Gourmet Pens: Review: The CU13E Machined Pen Storage @ClickyPost @KarasKustoms

The CUBE By Karas Kustoms — The Pen Addict

Dudek “The Display” Pen Stand

While cleaning and reorganizing my desk recently, I decided that I needed yet more pen stands so my inked pens wouldn’t be hidden in cases or desk drawers. After considering various options the Dudek Modern GoodsThe Display” seemed like an ideal solution. I could put them along the edge of my desk so they wouldn’t take up much room on my desk. A cabinet next to my desk, but slightly higher, would prevent me from knocking the stands and pens onto the floor.

I considered getting custom ones made for the length that I wanted. But instead I decided to go with the piecemeal approach and start with two of them. This would give me flexibility if my desk setup changes. The only potential problem is that the stain could vary between stands, especially for future additions. I consider this a minor risk, even if I need to grow past 10 pens sometime in the future.

“The Display” pen stand is about 5 inches long and holds five pens. I ordered mine with the larger 5/8″ holes, while 1/2″ holes are an option. The clincher for me was the slot that can be used for notebooks or papers. The slot is 0.56″ (14.24 mm) deep. It can hold four pocket notebooks in a pinch and three comfortably.

My stands arrived Saturday, 20 days after I placed the order which beat the 3 to 5 week turnaround rule of thumb listed on the website. (Although it may now be too late for Christmas delivery according to the website.) When I opened the box the freshly stained smell let me know the stands were just made.

The pens stands are made by Mike Dudek who also writes The Clicky Post.

The stands are nice additions to my desk. They are both functional and attractively display my pens.

Review: The Rest of the Nockco Kickstarter Pen Cases

Nockco should be launching their store soon. (If they haven’t already launched – this post was written last weekend and scheduled for today.)  launched their store yesterday. They’ve already announced additional products so there should be plenty to choose from. Now seems to be a good time to review the rest of my Nockco cases.

I reviewed the Nockco Hightower (the cases are all named for mountain peaks in Georgia) back in May and it remains my most used Nockco pen case. My most used case overall, if I  only consider a case used when pens are put in and taken out. I pledged at the “All the Cases” level when they had their Kickstarter campaign and these are the rest of those cases. And as an aside, it’s nice to see a Kickstarter campaign used to launch a business, and a business that makes their own products, rather than just be a storefront.

The red-white-blue flecked Grand Huron is over 6.5″ long so doesn’t fit in most pen cases but is shown in some photos for reference. The Edison Collier, Lamy Safari, and Pilot Vanishing point are also used (and fit) as a reference for all the cases and should provide a good cross-section of know pens.

Most cases are orange because I picked that as the color for the cases I expected to carry in a bag. This was to make them easy to find. Plus, I like orange.

The Lookout

I expected this three pen holster to be the case I used most but a change in my daily carry bag changed that. Three pens are an ideal carry for me so it does get used.

Like all the cases it’s well made with even stitching and no loose threads. The lining is soft and won’t scratch my pens. I’d consider it a “normal” size case that can accommodate most pens. The material is heavy and protects the pens quit well. Like many cases the sides are open towards the top of the case. I feel more comfortable with my heavy leather Franklin-Christoph Penvelope case bouncing around in my bag if there are heavy objects sharing the space with it. It may be psychological but I feel the leather would provide better protection against being crushed. But as far as cloth bags go, the Lookout provides excellent protection. There is padding and I can’t foresee anything ripping through the material. This the only one of the cases that has the extra padding.

Some people have noticed a Field Notes book fits under the strap and carry one there but I haven’t tried it.

Large Chimney Top

I ended up using this for computer/phone cables, a wireless hotspot, batteries, headphones, thumb drives and more. Thanks to the hotspot and large(ish) brick battery it can be tight at times but a lot does fit in.

The case is unlined but the interior is still smooth. There’s no padding. Again, good construction with even stitching.

The case is about 7″ long so it doesn’t fit full size wood case pencils.

Nockco large chimney top

Small Chimney Top

This case is as long as the Large Chimney Top but narrower. I use this to hold my Vac 700 with its extra nibs. It’s my ink testing case.

Broken record here – good construction with even stitching. Like the large version there’s no lining and large, new wood case pencils just don’t fit.

Nockco small chimney top

The Maryapple

This is a bi-fold case with a notebook pocket on each side. Pens fit too, as long as you don’t mind that they touch. This one is lined. I’ve yet to find a regular use for this case. My particular case is the Steel exterior with Blue Jay interior.

Guess what? Quality construction with even stitching.

Nockco Maryapple

The Maryapple with a Field Notes 3 pack on each side

The Sassafras

This is the pen version of the Maryapple. It’s a bifold case with five pen slots, three on the left and two on the right. The slots on the right can easily hold multiple pens if you don’t mind touching.

Yet again, even stitching and solid construction.

I’ve used this on occasion but it hasn’t gotten a lot of use.

The Nockco Sassafras

The Brasstown

The Brasstown is the most ingenious design of all the cases. It’s a six pen roll that fits in a zippered case. It holds six (or more) pens in a six pen roll. More pens or other small items can fit loose in the case. That’s a lot in a small area.

I would have expected to use this case more but find I usually pick another. If I need less than six pens then it’s the Hightower. If it’s six pens then it’s the leather Penvelope. Because of this I’ve started to use it for my Retro 51 accumulation and spare refills.

The case is lined. New wood case pencils won’t fit in the roll out sleeves but they do fit loose in the case. My Edison Huron Grande won’t be completely wrapped in the roll out sleeve, but it does fit in the case.

And yes, even stitching and overall quality construction.

 

Kaweco Eco Wild Raw Leather Pen Pouch

The Kaweco Eco Wild Raw Leather Pen Pouch is a Cult Pens exclusive, according to their website. I typically order from them once or twice a year, concentrating on products not available in the US (they’re in the UK) and added this case to my last order. There’s not much to the cases, their a simple sleeve. There is a one pen case and a two pen case for the Sport line of pens. There’s also a one pens case and a two pen case for the Lilliput line of pens. Based on the pictures on Cult Pens’ website it looks like the the two pen versions don’t have a divider so the pens touch.

I ordered the one pen case for the Kaweco Sport. I have a red Kaweco AC Sport and unlike the AL Raw Aluminum or my new Black Stonewashed I don’t want it to get scratched up being carried in my pocket. The case is £22.99 inc VAT or £19.16 ex VAT. US foreigners don’t pay VAT.

The case is nice soft calf-skin leather. Initially the AL Sport was a tight fit but after a day or two of use it stretched out nicely and the pen is now easy to remove. It’s still sits securely in the case with no chance of slipping out. The case seems well built and durable but only time will tell. The stitching is a little rough where it ends. There’s a stiff piece of thread extending about 1/20th of an inch from the case. The leather will attract nicks, cuts and scuffs over time which will give it character.

My Franklin-Christoph Model 40 Pocket also fits in the pouch but it’s a much tighter fit. I imagine the pouch could expand a little more but in that case it might be too loose for the Kaweco Sport. I won’t be using the Model 40 in this sleeve while I still use it for the Sport, but If I wanted a case dedicated to the Model 40 I would consider this pouch.

The case is also light so it doesn’t add much weight to the pen. My case is 0.4 oz (12 g) so with my currently inked AL Sport Stonewashed the total weight is 1.3 oz (36 g).

Gallery

The pictures below show the case slightly lighter in color than mine really is thanks to the lighting. My case has more brown to it. But I couldn’t get the color right so decided to go with these. The photos on the Cult Pens site are a bit darker than my case.

Except for the first photo, the pictures all show the case with a pen in it. The pen is listed in the caption since it’s not obvious from the picture.

Review: Hightower Pen Case by Nock Co

Photo of the closed Nock Co HightowerI already had more pen cases than I needed but that didn’t stop me from backing the Nock Co pen cases on Kickstarter. I backed at all the cases, along with 472 others, and this has proven to be the most used case of the bunch in the month and a half I’ve had them. It’s the Hightower Pen Case in the Kickstarter LE colors, Peacock exterior (a blue-green) and a Midnight Blue exterior (a navy-blue).  There’s slots for three pens on the left, covered by a flap. The right side has a pocked sized for Doane Utility Journals, Field Notes or similar pocket notebooks and fits three comfortably. A fourth can be squeezed in put it requires a bit too much effort to be practical. While multiple notebooks can be held it does bulk up the case and keep it from being flat when it’s closed. I find anything more than two notebooks and the case doesn’t close flat enough for my taste.

For the record, my iPhone 5S and a Nokia Lumia 920 fit in the pocket (not at the same time) but are not secure and bulk up the case. It seems inevitable the phone would slide out and head to the floor.

The exterior is made of heavy nylon with a durable water repellant (DWR) coating that feels very cloth-like. The interior is pack cloth that is very smooth and is unlikely to scratch any pens. I say unlikely to scratch because there are no guarantees, but I’m certain all my pens will be scratch free.

Personally, I prefer using my Franklin-Christoph Penvelope 6 case for transporting pens in a computer or other bag. The heavy leather and heavy cloth gives the pens more protection, in my opinion. Since the Hightower material is cloth I’m paranoid the pens could be crushed or cracked if the bag was thrown around and a heavy object shared the space with them. That said, the material does seem very strong and would protect the pens against keys and other objects. Another concern is that the case doesn’t snap closed so something could work it’s way into the case. I’m too paranoid to use this case in my daily computer bag, since it doesn’t have it’s own pocket to secure it and would bounce around. The Hightower is not the case I use for my everyday carry, but it still gets used. If this case closed securely, with a zipper for example, it would probably replace my Penvelope and be nearly perfect. It does get used to keep my current favorite writers and active notebooks handy. I have a habit of leaving them around the house and end up having to search for them. Keeping them in the case avoids the problem. It does leave home and travels occasionally and keeps the pens well protected.

The case is about 6 3/4 inches tall and about 4 1/4 inches wide when closed and 8 3/4 inches wide when open. I haven’t had the case long enough to really test the durability but the case is well made. The Nock Co cases are handmade in Georgia. I expected to find some hanging threads or mis-cut corners but can’t find any on my case. This, along with the tight stitching, bodes well for the long term durability.

I keep three pens in the left side, usually three different inks in thin nibs, suitable for writing and note taking. There’s one, sometimes two, pocket notebooks on the right along with some business cards. I primarily use it to keep handy around the house so I don’t have to go hunting for pens or the current notebooks. But it does travel with me on occasion.

At 6 3/4 inches the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 either doesn’t fit in the case or just barely fits, depending on your point of view. It comes right up to where the flap is sewn onto the case so the flap doesn’t lay flat when the pen is in the case. On the other hand, the case can be closed and the pen will be protected. But in my opinion, the pen is too big for the case. All my other pens fit fine. The pen slots are about 4 3/4 inches deep and the flap seam is about 1 1/3 inches above the slots.

Nock Co is a venture of Brady Dowdy and Jeffrey Bruckwicki. You can read about them here. The Nock Co Kickstarter cases are almost all shipped out. They’ve said they’ll need to build inventory after the that and then will open their online store. Currently you can sign up to be notified when the store opens or read additional information about their products. Brad has mentioned (either on the Podcast or twitter) that they expect the store to open in June.

Additional Reading

Reviewed at The Well -Appointed Desk

Reviewed at The Clicky Post

Reviewed and then a motorcycle test at No Pen Intended

Gallery

Review: Zeller Writing Co. 1-Pen Stand – Steam Bent Chair Arch

Lamy 2000 resting in the Zeller 1-Pen Steam Bent Chair Arch penstand (side view)The Steam Bent Chair Arch is a unique handmade pen stand from Zeller Writing Company. I bought it mainly for its unique looks. From a pen stand point of view it’s got its drawbacks, but if viewed as a display stand its a winner.

The stand arrives well packed and includes a certificate of authenticity and a personal note from Aaron Zeller. While neither the certificate or the note make for a better pen stand, they do indicate a high level of care that goes into making the stands. The packaging and presentation is top notch.

The stand is a simple design. There’s a dimple in the base to hold the pen in place. The steam bent arch has a notch at the top to help hold the pen in place against the smooth surface. Since each stand is hand made the exact size will vary, but the base of my pen stand is 2 1/4 inches wide and 4 inches deep. The base is about 3/4 inches high and the arch rises about 3 1/2 inches above the base.

The pen stand isn’t as delicate as it looks. While I wouldn’t throw it around it isn’t going to break during normal use. Or even if it’s dropped on a carpeted floor, as I learned.

The pen can be knocked out of the stand relatively easily, although how easily depends on the pen. It’s been more stable than I expected with my Lamy 2000 and Franklin-Christoph Model 66. I could kick my desk and most times the pen would hang in there. But pens do fall off and this has to be taken into consideration when placing the stand. I keep it away from the edge of my desk. I also keep it clear of my Mac Mini which has sharp edges which could potentially scratch a pen that falls against it.

The product page at Zeller Writing Co also has a video about the Steam bent Chair Arch 1-Pen Stand.

The ZRC 1-Pen Steam Bent Chair Arch stand is a cool looking handmade stand that looks good on my desk. No pictures of it on my desk, while it looks good the res of the mess doesn’t. But more pictures below.

Gallery

Dudek Modern Goods (Mike Dudek) “The Groove”

Dudek Modern Goods logo

Mike Dudek runs The Clicky Post website and also makes hand made wooden pen holders under the Dudek Modern Goods brand. I’ve admired them since I first saw them online although I never came up with a scenario where I could actually use one. My home desk is too cluttered and until recently I worked from home more often than not. But now I go into the office most days and there’s plenty of room on my office desk. So I ordered one last Wednesday.

I ordered “The Groove” ($55 plus shipping) which holds 9 pens and has a place to store small notebooks. I ordered the version with six 1/2″ holes and three 5/8″ holes since many of my pens are too small for the 1/2″ holes.

Timing is everything. I ordered just before going to bed on Wednesday and by the time I awoke I had the shipping notification and a note that he had just made a batch and had one ready to ship. (The website says turnaround could be 3 – 5 weeks as they are handmade to order.)

The holder arrived on Saturday. It was well packed and also included a Doane Utility notebook and a note from Mike.

Many of my pens are too big for the 1/2″ holes but none had a problem with the 5/8″ holes.

  • Kaweco Sports fit in the 1.2″ holes but rest on the cap since they don’t quit reach the bottom. This doesn’t seem to risk harming either the pen or the holder.
  • Some tapered pens such as Parker Vacumatics and my Edison Menlo fit until the taper expands beyond 1/2″. This seems to risk damage to the pen or holder since the pen could wedge itself in there.
  • The TWSBI Vac 700 need the 5/8″ holes as do the vintage Sheaffer Balances.
  • Esterbrooks fit nicely in the 1/2″ holes.

The Groove can hold 3 Field Notes or Doane Paper style pocket notebooks. But I’ll be using mine with a Maruman Mnemosyne Today’s Act notepad which I is where I keep my current work related To Do list. The notebook fits with enough room for a pocket notebook.

There’s not much else to say. At the simplest it’s just a block of wood with holes drilled into it and some stain applied. But it comes together nicely. I like the simplicity and the fact that it’s hand made, functional and I like the wood finish.