Pen Review: The TWSBI Micarta

When the TWSBI Micarta was announced earlier this year I was interested. This was  a new and different pen, unlike most others on the market.  I like transparent pens, and while they are all the rage lately, I do like other designs as well. This was also a different approach to a pen material.

The TWSBI Micarta pen is made out of, well, Micarta. What exactly is Micarta you ask? Well, this is an industrial material commonly used (and perhaps most widely known) in the manufacture of knife handles. It is a durable material and it has an interesting texture to it.

When I was finally able to get my hands on this pen I was ecstatic. The pen comes in two different flavors, the 803 or clipless model, and the 805 or clip model. My eye was immediately drawn to the clipless model as it really embodied the spirit of most modern Japanese pens. That and the fact I would never pay the price for a nice Dani-Trio or Nakaya even though I do like them. The price on the TWSBI Micarta however, is a more attainable pen, coming in at $100 for either model.

TWSBI Micarta 803 and 805

TWSBI Micarta 803 and 805 – Another Awesome TWSBI

One of the first things you notice about this pen is it has a bit of an aroma about it. I won’t say it’s overpowering, but as a person who likes to use hard rubber pens (and I must confess I do like to smell them), it did not bother me. Some people may not like this, but it does seem to taper off over time. I have now been using this pen for about a month and the smell appears to be significantly reduced. Time will tell if it will go away completely, or just be a subtle reminder of the material.

The other thing you might notice is the natural variation in the material. Some caps are light, some barrels are dark, some are medium brown. Every pen is different. One theme that seems to be spreading is that the material will change color slightly over time. I can’t say for certain if I’ve experienced this just yet, and I didn’t take the time to photograph my pen before I started using it. My particular pen had a darker barrel to begin with, but the cap was lighter. I have been making every attempt to rub the cap in an attempt to get the oils from my hand to be absorbed by the micarta. Who knows how long this may take, but some reports have indicated that just dipping the section into the ink will discolor and be absorbed by the material, so all I can say for now is only time will tell how this will change.

Outside of the natural variation of the material, the pen is rather plain and simple.  The top has the TWSBI emblem laser (?) engraved rather nicely, and the model number and the TWSBI name in both English and Taiwanese on the cap.  The Micarta has a bit of texture to it, and is not perfectly smooth.  I find this natural variation quite acceptable.

TWSBI Micarta Showing the Gold Plated Nib

TWSBI Micarta Showing the Gold Plated Nib

The machining of the threads result in one of the most interesting aspects of any fountain pen. The threads are fuzzy! This also results in the pen threading on quite tight. Over time and numerous capping and uncapping, the threads lose their fuzzy nature and it threads on easier, but not too easy. The cap turns two and a half turns to cap so it’s not coming loose even after the thread fuzziness wears off. Speaking of threads, the barrel threads on to the section with a whopping eleven turns before you can get at the included convertor. The pen is international sized, so you can use your favorite short or long international cartridges in this pen.  The Micarta does come with a convertor, although it is of the cheaper plastic bodied variety and not the more hearty glass bodied version as some pens come with.

The pen is 5-5/16 inches long capped, 6-5/8 inches long posted, and the barrel itself (for you non-posters), is about 5-1/16 inches long.  The barrel girth tapers up to around 1/2 inch.

The nib is a nice heavy gold plated steel nib presumably made by Bock. Unlike some of other gold plated nibs they got the color on this one just right. While you aren’t going to be fooled into thinking it is a 14k nib, you can dream. For those with a clip, the color is also a good match.

The clip models aren’t all that different except for a very tastefully done gold plated clip in the cap, and the 805 model number marking on the cap.  Other than that they are exactly the same.

How does it write?  well, I love mine, it is smooth, and while there is no softness or spring to it, it performs well for a steel nib.  Mine flows well, not too heavy and not too dry and puts down just the right amount of ink on the paper.  I think the steel nib gives it just the right amount of tooth too, as it writes especially well on my awful, almost oily, paper at work.  If I must take a note, this pen won’t give me any problems on the page.  It has been suggested by several pen friends that J. Herbin’s Cacao du Bresil is perhaps the perfect color ink for this pen.  I concur and is the only color I have put into it thus far.

The pen’s material makes it really a pretty bomb proof pen.  I have unfortunately had this pen slip out of my pocket twice (I know, I know, I should have gotten the clip version), and nothing has happened to the pen, and one time was on our new bamboo hardwood flooring in the pen room.

If you like the look of the Micarta finish, then I can highly recommend this pen.  It’s a nice writer, has a plain and simple design, and is a good sized pen without being too large.  It is also nice to have a pen with a little different design in my pen chest.  It really stands out and that’s not a bad thing.