The CU13BE (the 13 looks like a ‘B’) is a collaboration between KarasKustoms & Dudek Modern Goods. The 13 comes from the atomic number of the element aluminum. KarasKustoms now calls it the “CUBE” on their website and I find writing CU13E annoying, so I’m going to call it “CUBE” from now on. The all caps is less annoying. The CUBE is machined from a solid block of aluminum (well, except for the brass version) with holes for nine pens.
Despite KarasKustoms experience, this wasn’t the smoothest Kickstarter project and it was plagued by delays and other problems. Delivery was estimated for March so it was four months late, five if you want to get technical, but August is only a few days old. There were some comments that the rubber feet fell off in some cases, although mine seem solidly attached. A bigger problem, at least in my opinion, is that those who ordered the the silver anodized version received a raw aluminum version that wasn’t anodized because the anodizing ending up being dull, unlike the samples. Another commenter mentioned that their CUBE looked dinged up before the blue anodizing was applied. While this wasn’t mentioned on the Kickstarter, and the pictures look smooth and shiny, the KarasKustoms website does mention this should be expected as they are now calling them Stonewashed or mentioning that they are tumbled before anodizing.
I ordered the tumbled raw aluminum version which was’t affected by most of the problems since it wasn’t anodized and the finish is purposely rough. And very cool. The only impact was the delay since all the CUBEs were shipped at one time. I didn’t pick any of the anodized versions because I expected this to take some abuse and I thought even the slightest ding would stand out and ruin the look. Plus, I just plain have a preference for the look of raw metals.
Being solid aluminum, the CUBE is heavy, 1 lb. 14.5 oz. to be specific, with nine pen holes drilled into it.. The pens holes are 0.563“ (9/16”) in diameter and two inches deep. There are Delrin inserts in each pen hole to protect the pens from scratches. Delrin is a Dupont product which they describe as…
Delrin® acetal homopolymer combines lubricity and wear resistance with the stiffness and strength needed in parts designed to replace metal.
They feel like smooth plastic and are held firmly in place. They didn’t budge when I turned the CUBE over and shook it.
I have several Dudek Modern Goods pen stands and I like them a lot. All are made of wood. In general I like the wood better, but that’s just a personal preference. The aluminum is heavier, much heavier, which gives it more stability. It will take more than a nudge to push it off a table. This weight was the main reason I decided to buy it. I’ll use it on my workbench where the stability will come in handy.
The Delrin liner also provides protection for pens that are wider than the holes. While the wood is soft in the wooden versions and not likely to scratch a pen, I didn’t like it when a pen tapered enough so it didn’t reach the bottom of the hole and was held up by the edges of the hole. For example, my Franklin-Christoph Model 25 is too wide to reach the bottom of the hole but it is secure and I don’t feel like it will be scratches.
KarasKustoms is selling the CUBE on their website for $85, a bit more than the Kickstarter price. Brass ($350) and Stonewashed ($95) versions are also available. Eighty-five dollars is a lot for a pen holder but it is solid aluminum so the price does seem reasonable. I did really want the brass but I couldn’t even come close to justify the expense for me. I did internally debate the $75 Kickstarter price but decided to go ahead and get it. I am happy with the result and the Tumbled Raw Aluminum CUBE that I received.
If you’re interested in wooden pen stands I previously reviewed the Dudek Groove and the Dudek Display stands. While there are a few Cube reviews all the ones I found were pre-production units and considering there were manufacturing issues and changes I’d hesitate to trust those if you’re considering buying one. They are arriving in people’s hands at the moment so reviews of the various finishes may begin to appear.