FPGeeks Awesome Review ScoreCard TWSBI Micarta

Review Specificaitons

TWSBI Micarta Uncapped

Pen Class: Standard ($100 to $199)
MSRP: $100
Street Price:: $100

Body Material: Micarta
Nib Material: Plated Steel
Nib Size: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad
Cap Type: Screw On/Off
Post-able: Yes
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter (International Sized, Converter included)
Ink Capacity: Short Cartridge: 0.75 ml /  0.03 ~ Long Cartridge: 1.45 ml / 0.05 ~ Converter: 0.9 ml / 0.03 oz
Overall Weight: 24 g / 0.85 oz
Cap Weight: 8 g / 0.29 oz
Body Weight: 16 g / 0.56 oz
Overall Length Capped: 136 mm / 5.34 in
Overall Length Posted: 170 mm / 6.69 in
Body Length (not including nib): 104 mm / 4.11 in
Nib Length: 23 mm / 0.90 in
Body Length (including nib): 127 mm / 5.00 in
Cap Diameter w/o Clip: 15.6 mm / 0.62 in
Cap Diameter w/Clip: 19.6 mm / 0.77 in
Body Diameter at Ink Window: 15 mm / 0.59 in
Body Diameter at Blind Cap End: 11. 75 mm / 0.46 in

If this pen were a movie, it would be…

A Touch of Zen (1971)

Review Dealer Prep

TWSBI Micarta in Box

Dan: 7 – Thankfully, the packaging for the TWSBI Micarta is very different than what we’ve seen with the Diamond 530/540. Instead of glossy plastic the Micarta is packaged in what feels like recycled card stock. The outer sleeve is black and sturdy with a semi-smooth finish. In the lower right corner printed in clear, high gloss letters is “TWSBI inspired by writing”. It’s very subtle and in the right light it practically disappears.

Removing the sleeve reveals a tan cardboard box with a rougher texture who’s overall design reminds me of Lamy’s packaging for the Studio and 2000. Open each flap and you’ll find the Micarta sitting in one trench of the “W” shaped floorboard and the converter sitting in the other. I liked this package design when I first saw it from Lamy and I still like it now, even though TWSBI may lose a couple tenths for straight up copying Lamy. Overall, I’m very pleased with the packaging and think the natural, earthy feel goes very well with the theme of the pen.

Eric: 6.5 – Trenches! Thank you for that word, Dan. Each time we’ve reviewed a Lamy with this packaging, I’ve searched for the correct way to describe the zig-zag bottom of the box. I’ve settled for “valleys” in the past, but “trenches” is much more appropriate.

This packaging is so similar to that of the Lamy Studio and Lamy 2000 that I can only call it the sincerest form of flattery. And imitation seems rampant; TWSBI flatters Lamy’s packaging, Pilot flatters TWSBI’s color scheme, Sailor flatters Montblanc’s design, the list goes on. But hey, if you’re going to participate, at least choose something worthy of flattery. TWSBI has done an excellent job with this packaging. I like it very much, which is no surprise since I’ve confessed as much regarding the Lamy packaging in previous Awesome Reviews.

Review Filler Up

TWSBI Micarta Dismantled

Dan: 6.5 – The TWSBI Micarta uses the common international sized cartridge / converter filling system and thankfully comes with a converter in the box. There is an o-ring on the section where the barrel attaches suggesting that the Micarta may be used as an eye dropper. You should be aware that whatever ink you use will most likely stain the inside of the barrel as it’s not finished as smoothly as the outside so the fibers are more exposed. But, since it’s the inside of the pen I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I would try it with water first just to make sure it doesn’t leak.

I would also advise against dunking the entire nib in ink when filling it to reduce the chance of ink staining the section. Depending on what ink you use you may be able to wipe it clean with a damp cloth, but with more permanent inks you may not be able to. I wanted to avoid any chance of staining the fibers so I filled the converter first, then inserted it into the pen. Next, I extended the piston to force ink down into the feed until ink drips from the nib, then retract the piston about a half turn. This saturates the feed and gets it ready for writing right away. This process can use up to half the volume of ink in the converter so I removed it and filled it again, then reinserted it back into the pen.

Eric: 5 – O-ring on the section, Dan? I have no such o-ring. How do you rate? Did both of your Micartas come with this phantom o-ring?

Like you, Dan, I don’t feel comfortable dipping the Micarta in ink because I fear the section may stain. I filled my converter using a blunt syringe and then primed the feed, just as you did, by turning the converter knob (once the converter was installed, of course).

You know me, I can’t get too excited about a cartridge / converter system. Yep, it works and yes, the converter is included with the pen (thankfully). I’ve used many a converter and this one seems, well, cheap! It works, no question, but it has a 99-Cent Store feel that I don’t care for (or trust much).

Review Test Drive

TWSBI Micarta Wiring Sample

Dan: 5.75 – My Test Drive with the Micarta was a mixed bag. I was incredibly excited when I received this pen. I was impressed with the packaging and intrigued by the feel of the Micarta material. When I first opened the package I got a whiff of something I don’t recall smelling from other pens. I uncapped the pen and sniffed again receiving an even more intense scent. It was intoxicating.

I filled both pens (yes, both, I couldn’t decide between clip or clipless so I got one of each) with Noodler’s Shah’s Rose and had some serious problems with the EF nib in the clipless Micarta and experienced dry flow from the Bold nib in the other Micarta. This is not what I was expecting, especially since these pens are using the new Bock nibs, which are supposed to be an upgrade over the previous Schmidt nibs, and TWSBI is supposed to be hand testing each pen before it leaves their facility.

To fix the EF nib I had to do some nib tuning that I’m pretty sure the common fountain pen user wouldn’t be able to perform. I go into more detail about this in the Performance section. So, while I was initially very excited about this pen the problem with the nibs really brought my enthusiasm down a couple notches. Once I fixed the EF nib so it would at least write some of that excitement came back, but it’s not how I wanted to spend the first hour with these pens.

Eric: 7 – Oh yes, that intoxicating (toxic?) scent. I’m calling it Eau de Micarta and I vacillate between loving it and fearing it. Is it dangerous? No need to sniff glue anymore, just whip out the Micarta. Once I recovered from the initial fumes, I ran to the pet shop and purchased two canaries to keep nearby when using the pen. So far they haven’t keeled over. If they stick around much longer, I may have to actually feed them.

Like you, Dan, I was very excited to receive the Micarta. Unlike you, I only got one (showoff). My clipless Micarta sports a Broad nib and the first thing revealed by the Test Drive was that it’s a very dry writer. It’s not so dry as to make writing impossible, but I certainly have to slow my writing speed so that the ink flow can keep up.

Truth be told, I like the pen’s scent and I like the feel of the pen in my hand. The material is warm and smooth with a subtle texture. I filled my Micarta with J. Herbin Cacao du Brésil and I like the match very much. Once I adjust the pen’s flow (after the review is complete), I know I’ll be reaching for this pen on a daily basis.

Review Under the Hood

TWSBI Micarta Nib


Dan: 8.25 – I’m so glad to see that TWSBI went with a larger nib than what’s in the Diamond 540. Comparing the two, the Micarta measures 23mm from section to tip vs 17mm of the 540. The gold color plating on the steel nib is more of a “vintage gold” color and not the bright yellow of real gold found on many modern pens. I like it and think it goes very well with the color of the Micarta material. Also, I couldn’t care less that the nib is steel. When properly tuned, steel nibs will write just as well as any gold nib, even the nails that come in the Micarta. Plus, the steel nib is saving me a wad of cash that I can use to buy the Vac 700.

The TWSBI logo is large and in the center of the nib with “TWSBI” stamped right underneath. On the left edge the nib is marked “EF” indicating the tip size. I love that feature and wish more companies would do the same. I can’t say I like the scroll work all that much because it comes off as an afterthought used to fill space and isn’t very elegant.

Eric: 6.5 – I have no qualms with the size of the Micarta nib. It fits the pen perfectly. Anything smaller or larger would look out of place. While I generally prefer a silver color (steel or rhodium), the gold of the Micarta’s nib is not offensive. I’m tempted to call it a matte finish. It’s not a brushed finish, but it isn’t as glaring as most polished metals.

If my nib was hand tested, the tester either writes slowly or prefers a dry nib.

The nib’s stamped logo and TWSBI name are beautiful. The nib width indication (B, in my case) is unobtrusive and very handy. The scrollwork, well, it’s generic.

The Micarta nib can’t compare to the Monteverde Invincia Stylus nib. And for the price of the Micarta, the steel nib really should be top notch in both form and function.

Review Performance

Dan: 3 – The problem with the EF nib was that the nib slit was not a consistent width the entire length of the slit. It would be one thing if the slit started out wide and gradually tapered to the tip with the tines touching, or vice versa. But the slit on this nib had a bulge in the area over the end of the feed. Starting at the breather hole and traveling towards the tip the slit was uniform but as it approached the area above the end of the feed the slit widened and then reduced in width so much so that the tip of the tines were touching.

I could get the nib to write in this condition by applying enough pressure to slightly spread the tines but only for a stroke or two. The width of the slit was wide enough over the end of the feed that it was breaking the capillary flow of ink. Basically, the EF nib was unusable. To fix  it I had to spread the tines apart down to the spot where the bulge was at its widest, then push them back together making sure the slit was uniform with a proper gap at the very tip. Once this was complete the nib wrote smooth and consistent.

The Bold nib in the other Micarta would at least write out of the box but the flow was dry to the point where if I would write quickly in cursive the line would begin to get very thin and sometimes even skip.

My score for this section represents my experience with both nibs. It’s not as poor as if I had just received the EF nib and not as good as if I had just received the Bold nib, although the score wouldn’t improve that much anyway. I can understand having one bum nib, it’s happened to me on pens that cost several hundreds of dollars, but to get two that are poor makes a much bigger statement, especially on a run of only around 1000 pens.

Eric: 6.5 – My Bold nib is identical to Dan’s; it writes but the flow is so dry that I have to slow my writing or be annoyed by nearly constant downstroke skipping. The pen’s dry flow, however, is really the only performance issue I have with the pen – and it’s an issue that can be corrected with relative ease.

I’m always disappointed when brand-new pens don’t write well. Some part of me expects a new pen to amaze me right out of the box. Sometimes that happens, but more often than not, nibs need some sort of adjustment before I’m perfectly happy with them. Knowing that, I should probably consider lowering my expectations with regard to out of the box pens. Nah. That’s not right. Pen manufacturers should simply raise their standards. Right?

Review Design Notes

TWSBI Micarta Posted

Dan: 9.25 – I was intrigued by the design of the Micarta since I first saw it. Its shape reminds me a lot of Nakaya pens and that’s a good thing. The most interesting design decision was the use of Micarta for the entire pen. Sailor has made a couple of pens from Micarta but they use plastic for their section threads. While this may give the pen a cleaner overall look by removing the fuzzy threads, I think TWSBI deserves props for going 100% Micarta.

All of the markings on the cap, the logo on the crown, the model number near the crown, “TWSBI” near the cap lip, and the three Chinese characters on the opposite side, appear to be burned into the material. I think it adds to the rustic, natural look of the pen. The clip appears to be the new design that’s supposed to be added to the Diamond 540. It’s positioned very close to the crown which reduces how much of the cap sticks out of your pocket. I like this as I wear a lot of shirts with flaps over the pockets and don’t care for pens that prevent the flap from folding down. But, in my experience with the TWSBI Micarta thus far, the pen is so long that it hits the bottom of the pocket before it reaches the bottom of the clip. It will, however, sit down deep inside of your pants pocket if you prefer to carry it that way. The cap is removed in just shy of 2.5 rotations, which I think is a bit much. TWBSI could have reduced that by half and made the section longer or just reduced the overall length of the pen by that much.

The section is thick, starting with a generous lip and gradually increasing in diameter towards the section threads. The barrel attaches snugly to the section thanks to the tight thread tolerance and an o-ring on the section. The barrel takes 10.25 rotations to remove, which at times almost seems like a cruel joke. Again, I think this could have been achieved in half the rotations. The barrel then tapers to a diameter just smaller than the crown of the cap. The end of the barrel clearly shows that the Micarta was wrapped and adds a nice bit of character to the pen. The cap does post securely on the barrel and actually feels really balanced writing in either fashion.

The TWSBI Micarta is available in a light and dark color. I got one of each and am much more fond of the dark color. You can try requesting a particular color when you order and may or may not get what you want.

Eric: 9 – I find the shape of the TWSBI Micarta to be beautiful in its simplicity. I don’t think there could be a simpler shape for a pen, and the design lines whisper of understated elegance. Neither too small nor excessively large, the size of the Micarta is exactly right. This is a well designed pen.

The fact that the pen is the only one I know of made completely from micarta (including all the threaded areas) only adds to it’s design appeal. Yes, the threads are fuzzy and yes, I like ‘em that way. They take nothing away from the integrity or function of the threads (which are excellently machined with very tight tolerances), yet they add a curious talking point – an unusual feature about which fountain pen geeks the world over will brag, “Check out the fuzz on these threads!”

The pen’s markings (logo on top of the cap, name on front of the cap, San Wen Tong kanji characters on back of cap as well as the model number) are laser engraved and as Dan points out, have a great “burned in” look almost as if they had been branded into the Micarta.

Oh TWSBI, if only the Micarta had been a piston filler, I’d be sorely tempted to give it a Design Notes score of 10.

Review Detailing

TWSBI Micarta Cap Back

Dan: 9.25 – The detailing on both of the pens I received is top notch, given the restrictions of the material. The threads are much different looking than on any other fountain pen I’ve ever seen. There’s a fuzz from the fibers in the laminate being cut that can’t be removed during final production like on the outer surfaces of the pen. When the pens were new there was a gritty feeling when removing or attaching the cap and barrel. I’ve been using the clipless Micarta daily and cycling the cap as often as I can while not touching the other pen. After only a few days I’ve already noticed the threads feeling smoother but haven’t detected any degradation in thread tolerance. Due to the resin used in the construction of Micarta I’m not concerned about the possibility of the threads wearing away, but only time will truly tell.

I complained about the number of revolutions used to attach the cap and barrel but one advantage of this is that it makes the pen feel incredibly solid. There’s no play or wiggling anywhere. On the clipped version the slit where the clip fits through the cap is so tight that it looks like the clip is seamlessly integrated into the cap. There’s no gaps or voids around the clip at all. It’s impressive.

There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re getting the same TWSBI quality found in the 540. This is truly a pen that deserves to wear the TWSBI name.

TWSBI Micarta Threads

Eric: 9.75 – Top notch detailing might almost be an understatement. The Micarta is manufactured so well that I could find but a single flaw in my copy – a tiny notch or gouge (gougette?) near the center of the cap top which takes out a tiny piece of the logo and mars the logo’s background just a tad. I do not know if this is a remnant of the manufacturing process or the scar of some small injury the pen suffered prior to reaching the safety of my care. I’ll post a photo of the cap’s top so that others can let me know if their Micartas have a similar, barely detectible blemish.

Obviously, I don’t consider the fuzziness of the threads to be defective. On the contrary, because I know that the fuzziness does not diminish the function or longevity of the threads in any way, I’m quite fond of it.

As you say, Dan, the Micarta is top quality and truly worthy of the TWSBI name branded into the cap.

Micarta Captop

Review 21 Minute Road Trip

Dan: 7 – I pretty much only had two thoughts during my Road Trip. The first and minor thought: Moleskine paper is actually getting pretty good. Each time I use my Star Wars notebook I like it more and more. But, the major recurring thought was that Micarta may be my favorite material for a section, if not the entire pen! Not once did I have a problem gripping the pen even with an excessive amount of perspiration on my hands thanks to the afternoon coffee I was enjoying.

Even though the flow was a little dry I still very much enjoyed this pen. Its size made it comfortable for my somewhat large hands and the weight was light enough to prevent fatigue during the 21 minute writing session. I spent half the session writing with the pen posted and the other half with it not posted and couldn’t determine which I liked more, which is very odd for me since I prefer posting pens, even pens that are extremely cap heavy such as the Levenger Plumpster and Diamond 540.

Eric: 9 – The first minute of my Road Trip with the Micarta was dedicated to determining the maximum allowable writing speed that would still permit uninterrupted ink flow with my dryish nib. Once that was accomplished, I set my cruise control and was off to the races.

With every minute that passed, I enjoyed the Micarta more and more. It’s very comfortable in the hand, does not hesitate or skip (so long as the maximum writing speed is not exceeded), and seems to have been built for long writing sessions.

The Micarta is the first pen to have inspired me to ignore the timer indicating the end of the 21 Minute Road Trip. The timer sounded, but I didn’t want to stop. I was having too much fun and not feeling in any way like I needed to take a break.

I’d happily be writing with the Micarta right now if only this Awesome Review wasn’t digital.

Review The Checkered Flag

The Feel of Micarta
Available w/ or w/o Clip
Threads are Fuzzy
May Stain Easily
Inconsistent Color
Threads are Fuzzy

Famous Last Words:

Dan: TWSBI is continuing to build on their great reputation with this pen. They introduced themselves by offering a solid pen with a piston filler for leagues less than the competition, i.e. the Diamond 530. They’ve done the same with the Micarta. It doesn’t matter that it costs twice what the 540 does because they’re not competing with themselves. They’re competing with every other pen manufacturer out there and the Micarta is $500 or $600 less than it’s closest competitor. With the production of the Micarta, TWSBI has shown that they can branch out from simple injection molded pens and create something unique that has some character.

Eric: The Micarta has oodles and oodles of character, at least in my mind.

I admit, I was confused by the $100 price tag at first. Not because the TWSBI Diamond 540 is roughly half that cost (the Micarta is a completely different animal and should not be compared to the 540’s price point), but because the Micarta is a simple cartridge/converter pen with a steel nib. A hundred dollars? Where’s the piston filling system?

But now that I’ve had the Micarta for a couple of weeks, I realize it has some traits that are extremely difficult to manufacture. The Micarta has character, charm, mystique and allure. No doubt about it, I’d prefer the Micarta to be a piston filler, but an abundance of other outstanding qualities ensure that I am perfectly willing to overlook a filling mechanism flaw and simply enjoy the pen.

This pen was purchased for review.

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  • inky

    Hi Eric,

    Just wanted to advise the my Clipped Micarta has the same little notch out of it that yours shows in the cap logo. Must be either intentional or a manufacturing quirk.


    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      I should mention that neither of mine (one with a clip, the other clipless) have that little notch or gouge on the crown of the cap.

    • http://fpgeeks.com Eric Schneider

      Hey Mike!

      Thanks for letting me know. Dan had told me earlier that neither of his Micartas had the little notch so I figured mine was an injury.

      I’m glad to know there’s at least one other pen out there with the same notch. Our pens are twins, Mike – separated at birth! =)

  • KrazyIvan

    The nib slit issues are a bummer. I know it will get fixed but I may wait this one out a little more or plan a nib transplant. I still love the look of the pen!

  • Shashinjitsu

    I’ve been using my Micarta for a little over a week now and I love it! I got an EF nib and loaded it with Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki. The flow is consistent and I’ve yet to have it skip. It’s not exactly wet, but certainly not dry either.

    The nib feels a bit scratchy on the cheap paper I have to use at work but that goes away on the good stuff. I think I have been spoiled by my EF Sailor nib.

    I didn’t consider that the section might stain when I loaded it so a bit of it did get into the ink. It did stain, but the fuyu-gaki color blends in pretty well to the material. After about a week I couldn’t detect any staining so I assume my fingers eventually wore the ink off of the section.

  • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

    AJZeller messaged us on Twitter saying Parker Black Quink stained his Micarta. Link to tweet.
    TWSBI Micarta stained with Parker Black Quink

  • http://peninkcillin.blogspot.com/ Peninkcillin

    I’m afraid that I will never “get” this pen. OK, the material is exotic but apart from that it seems to perform poorer than the much cheaper 540. It also has less ink capacity. Interesting concept, nonetheless.

    • Parnesh

      You will not “get” the pen until you actually get it. I have mine for a bit over a week now and I must say I am disappointed with the performance of the pen. The nib is dry and can skip (I have an F) and probably needs adjustment and is an absolute nail. Hard starts in the morning.

      However, I have no regrets about spending $100 on it. It is absolutely unique in it design and use of material (and smell, I like the hospital clean small although I should get some canaries or budgies lol) and attracts attention. This is coming from someone who regrets getting a LAMY 2000 (EF nib, very temperamental, probably should have tried before I bought).

  • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com/ John the Monkey

    Great review as always – this is a really striking pen, and I think it’s the first clipless pen (Edison’s Urushi models aside) that I’ve really liked.

  • Shashinjitsu

    I checked mine when I got home. Clipless model, no notch on the crown and it does have the o-ring on the barrel. We should start a database with all the possible variants, including light/dark bodies and caps. Then if one gets stolen we will have the Micarta “fingerprint” on file!

  • Les

    Love the look and feel of my clipless Micarta. With use the pen looks even better now then when it was new. The F nib is fussy and hard to start after sitting awhile. I have flossed it and cleaned it thoroughly, with only a little improvement. I am running Noodlers #41 brown in it and will likely stick with that until I hear more on others staining experiences.

    The o-ring on the pen is hard to see at first as it appears to be in a ditch. I had to look twice for it!

    I’d get a clipped version of the pen but I will wait to see if they are going to add an inner cap to later versions of this pen. I’d be afraid of ink leaking through the opening where the clip goes through the pen cap.

  • picautomaton

    That is an awesome review and photos, thank you. It does justice to a great pen (so far). I’ve had mine for two weeks. The nib needed a bit of coaxing to write first touch. I’m quite happy with it now. Time will tell…….

  • Neil

    Heh…never would have thought that “Threads are Fuzzy” can be a pro/con for a pen! Great review of a not so great TWSBI offering imo.

    Appreciate the writing sample (although not so appreciative of nib troubles). After bitten by the Greg-minuskin-bug-of-big-stubby-nib or even 1.1 stub from TWSBI, hard to think of EF nibs these days for me. It may change in future, but right now I love the stubby nibs.
    Don’t care much for the staining also….will skip it.

  • Youstruckgold

    No gouge on mine. I have a darker one with clip – only received yesterday. Have had no problem with ink flow – fi

  • Youstruckgold

    Whoops! try again (more problem with web page!) Filled with Waterman Florida Blue and writing like a dream. My only complaint (and it’s minor) I prefer heavier pens!

  • Steve A

    I’ve had mine for just over a week now and I love it

    The one you received is beautiful. Mine was not so lucky as far as pattern and smoothness, as well as the laser etching.

    My finish was very inconsistent and rough, with the laser etching very light on the top of the cap. I have since sanded it with a 400 grit sandpaper and it looks and feels considerably better.

    for the micarta database: no notch, with O-ring

  • Will Platt

    make it a piston filler, fix the nibs, and I’d buy it :)

  • David

    “You can try requesting a particular color when you order and may or may not get what you want.” What the heck is that? Customer service?

    Add to that a pen material that stains with ink, nibs that are bad out of the box, a $100 price tag, an O-ring but ink leaks from the clip mount, on-and-on.

    I would say this pen is a complete FAIL but for one exception – at least it posts properly (unlike the 530/540).

    • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

      “You can try requesting a particular color when you order and may or may not get what you want.” What the heck is that? Customer service?

      If you know anything about TWSBI then you’ll know their customer service is top notch. The thing with choosing the colors is that raw material they use comes out in a light or dark shade after it’s been turned. On their facebook page they said they would allow for customers to choose their shade but made no mention of it in the description at their online store. I’ve read where a few people did get the color they requested.

      Add to that a pen material that stains with ink

      I guess you’ve never used a pen made from celluloid.

      nibs that are bad out of the box

      You’re saying this as a definitive statement when it’s not. I had one bad nib, a dry nib, and Eric had a dry nib. TWSBI isn’t the only manufacturer this happens to. There have been many reports from others that their nibs write fine.

      an O-ring but ink leaks from the clip mount

      The o-ring is located on the section where the barrel attaches. It doesn’t have anything to do with ink leaking from the clip mount. That’s due to there being no inner cap, which we knew about well ahead of time.

      at least it posts properly (unlike the 530/540)

      Both of those pens post just fine. I have one of each and post them every time I use them.

      • David

        Well Dan…

        Regardless of TWSBI’s service record, not being able to specify the color of the pen your buying is not right – being able to specify the color of your pen and not getting what you asked for is even worse.

        I own and use some celluloid pens; and I handle them very carefully. But I would not buy another unless it was in some way very special. To market a mainstream work-horse modern pen that stains, and not make it perfectly clear in the pre-sales pitch is IMO irresponsible.

        When I read about the dodgy nibs in this review – I was not surprised. Yes, many report good nibs. But in the growing number of reviews I’ve read so far, there are enough bad nibs reported to make the problem statistically a near certainty; at least in the current run of production.

        If the pen leaks through the clip mount, then what the heck is the O-ring for? Maybe it is to prevent the Micarta material from abrading when the barrel and section? I just assumed an O-ring on the barrel-section means the barrel is sealed against leaks by some means – which opens the possibility for eye-dropper filling. Obviously not… I’ll be generous and give you this one until I understand further just what the O-ring does.

        The TWSBI 530/540 do not post “properly” (in my words). A pen that posts “properly” does not post to the filler knob – thereby rendering the pen an ink disaster waiting to happen. The way the 530/540 posts is one of the worst acts of design I’ve seen in the modern FP market.

        Please take your Fan Boy hat off and look at this pen objectively. I do, and in my opinion – it isn’t a pretty picture.


        • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

          Regardless of TWSBI’s service record,…

          You tried to make a point about their terrible customer service and I refuted it with their reputable history of helping customers. Now you want to throw that out? I don’t think so. You can’t just disregard their service record to try to make your point seem valid.

          …not being able to specify the color of the pen your buying is not right – being able to specify the color of your pen and not getting what you asked for is even worse.

          I agree, if they were offering two different colors of pen, like a blue and a green. This situation is more like ordering a pen made from Electric Blue Swirl Acrylic and specifying you’d like lots of white streaks, not just a few. They have no control over what it looks like when turned down. Expecting this level of preferential treatment is unreasonable.

          I own and use some celluloid pens; and I handle them very carefully. But I would not buy another unless it was in some way very special. To market a mainstream work-horse modern pen that stains, and not make it perfectly clear in the pre-sales pitch is IMO irresponsible.

          Show me a sales description in the history of selling pens that states perfectly clear that a company’s celluloid pen may/will stain. Also, TWSBI isn’t mainstream. Far from it. Parker is mainstream. Sheaffer is mainstream. TWSBI is well known only in the pen community and the Micarta is small run of only around 1000 pens.

          But in the growing number of reviews I’ve read so far, there are enough bad nibs reported to make the problem statistically a near certainty; at least in the current run of production.

          (the bold emphasis was added by me)
          Statistically a near certainly. Really? Assuming 1000 Micartas were produced, at a confidence level of 95% with a confidence internal of +/- 10% you would need a sample size of 88 to draw any reasonable conclusions. I doubt there are even that many reviews out there. Nice try, though.

          I just assumed an O-ring on the barrel-section means the barrel is sealed against leaks by some means – which opens the possibility for eye-dropper filling. Obviously not…

          You assumed correctly. The o-ring only has to do withe seal between the barrel and section. I still don’t know how you’re relating that to ink leaking from the clip mount. The clip is attached to the cap. For ink to not leak from the clip mount there needs to be an inner cap. I made this point earlier.

          The TWSBI 530/540 do not post “properly” (in my words). A pen that posts “properly” does not post to the filler knob – thereby rendering the pen an ink disaster waiting to happen. The way the 530/540 posts is one of the worst acts of design I’ve seen in the modern FP market.

          If a pen didn’t post properly then the cap would fall off when the pen was held cap down. The 530/540 post just as secure as any other pen out there. The fact that TWSBI decided to have the cap post on the piston knob and not the barrel is just a poor design decision. But, there’s an easy fix: don’t turn the cap counter-clockwise when removing it from the posted position.

          Please take your Fan Boy hat off and look at this pen objectively.

          Did you even read my review? While I certainly love TWSBI pens we take our reviews very seriously. If a pen is bad we review it that way and tell you about it. The scores are perfectly inline with every pen we’ve reviewed. In the Test Drive the Micarta received the second lowest score I’ve ever given out. In the Performance section it received the lowest score of any pen by a full point.

          • BentNib

            Dan, how dare you use logic in this conversation! You know haters gonna hate.

          • David

            Hi Dan,

            I argue the way they service their customers is in question if they give you a choice in how you fulfill your order then send you something else.

            If a celluloid pen were sold en masse today I feel it would be the responsibility of the manufacturer to inform the public about the possibility of staining. I disagree with your sentiment that the TWSBI Micarta is a niche product and therefore is permitted to forego this level of disclosure. The Micarta has gotten huge promotion in the FP community and will likely run to tens of thousands of not more in terms of production.

            Yes we would need a larger sample size to know with some confidence interval how many of the nibs out of a given batch size are bad. But if we assume the reports of bad nibs are true, then it a statistical certainty there HAVE been bad nibs in this production run. The only statistical qualification I added is to allow for false reporting of bad nibs, which I don’t believe is happening because I’ve seen and heard of more than one comment about nibs issues.

            Once again, if there is no inner barrel liner, and if any ink that ends up in the barrel can leak from the clip mount, then what is the purpose of an O-ring between the section and the barrel? Certainly the O-ring is not to prevent ink leaking, that’s going to happen through the clip anyway. That’s why I speculated that it may be there to (perhaps) prevent wear of the Micarta material when the section and barrel meet.

            As for the posting issue. At least we agree on poor design on how the 530/540 posts. Our difference is that I consider the 530/540 posting on the knob as posting improperly. Your threshold for use of this qualifier is if after posting, the cap falls off. So be it.

            Yes, Fan Boy was too harsh – my apologies. But I think your review should have been far more critical of this pen. Hence my comments. But that’s only my opinion. You are certainly entitled to yours – especially since this is your house, and I’m only an (interested) observer.

            Regards, David

            • Elliott

              The only reason for ink leakage from the clip mount is due to ink residue left on the inside of the cap from nib creep or the like. The only way for ink to get from the barrel into the cap is through the feed, as such the o-ring would make no difference to this factor. If you were to fill the pen as an eye dropper, the o-ring would seal the barrel from ink creeping out through the threads.

  • Exploding tofu

    Hands down, this is my favorite pen that I own. I bought the clip less version with a medium nib. My pen was pretty dry when using the converter, so I opted to use it as an eyedropper. A little silicon grease from my twsbi 540 on the section threads and the pen writes so much better. Now the ink is nice and flowing with no hard starts.

    I think you have to take this pen for what it is. It’s a tool built using material normally used for knive handles. Micarta is a warm and character filled material (and if there is to much character for you, it can always be sanded down! Haha). I like the idea of ink stains and imperfections. Micarta shows the journey that you and the tool(pen) have taken together.

    I would be really upset if I scratched or dropped my tortoise shell m600. But in my mind the micarta looks better the more you beat it up.

    • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com John the Monkey

      I would be really upset if I scratched or dropped my tortoise shell m600. But in my mind the micarta looks better the more you beat it up.

      Over at Rivendell Bike Works, they call that “beausage”. It’s the patina of little knocks, wear &c that combine to give a used, but loved item its character. Steel bikes & leather saddles are kind of prone to it :)

  • shashinjitsu

    Oh Micarta, causing trouble on forums and comments around the world…

    I still love mine. Today I went to a pen show in Tokyo “Pen Trading in Japan” and there was a table selling various new TWSBI pens. They saw me looking and he held up a Micarta and said “Look! Micarta! New!” so I had to whip mine out. There was a young guy there trying to decide if he wanted to spend the money on one so we had a broken English/Japanese conversation about what I think about it. I think I sold him on it, I await my commission.

    • http://monkeyphotomcr.blogspot.com/ John the Monkey

      If there’s commission on talking people into pens, shashinjitsu, Dan and Eric will be buying matching Ferraris before the year is out :)

      • http://fpgeeks.com/ Dan Smith

        I could handle that. :D

  • picautomaton

    yes…. I’m a Micarta fanboy. Since adjusting the nib a little bit (nothing to hectic) the pen is writing like a decent broad should. Doesn’t dry out over night and writes first touch (so far).
    My very favorite pen because it’s a bit anti-establishment (hee hee)

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  • MikesVintagePens@Gmail.com

    This TWSBI’s Micarta, is an outstanding Fountain Pen…. But I agree, the next step for it should be in a Piston format.

  • Bornagainscholar

    I have read many of your reviews this morning (first time visiting your awesome blog) and have really had a good time doing so. You guys point out some interesting insights in every review that I have not thought of or ever payed attention to. This review is no different. Really thorough and fun to read.

    I have one question. Eric writes when speaking of the fibers in the thread and how he doesn’t mind them “because I know that the fuzziness does not diminish the function or longevity of the threads in any way”. My question is, do you think this material will hold up for the life of the pen when speaking of the threads? I know ebonite can have issues with the threads wearing down considerably after some time if not very careful and I feel the Macarta is as soft as ebonite. Of course this is just my impression from feeling it I don’t have much knowledge of the material beyond that. I personally don’t think that it takes away anything from ebonite pens to have that concern and I wouldn’t take anything away from this pen if that happened to be the case. Like the both of you I applaud the fact they used the material throughout instead of an alternative. I guess I am curious more than concerned.

    Thank you for taking your time to write such great stuff. It is refreshing to read something other than the straight forward, generic, and bland reviews that have become common place in the pen niche of the blog world (which unfortunately is the only other writing I have read in my limited search of review style blogs).

  • Elliott

    If this design were to be translated into a piston filler format, ink staining on the section would become unavoidable. As much as piston filling would compliment the sentiment of the pen, it isn’t practical ij this material.

  • Seneca

    I’ve been looking at this pen for a while and reading reviews where I can get them. Your review mirrors others in that the look is good, the performance is average. Based on your review (and that of others) I won’t spend $100 for this pen. Now if it had a good nib and was a vac filler that would be a different story.
    By the looks of it, it seems TWSBI missed an opportunity. To use a car reference, when Mr Lyons launched the e-type jag, crowds flocked to its beautiful appearance. When they learned that it went faster than the Italian competition, handled better and was only 1/3 the cost, a legend was born.
    TWSBI produced the pen version of the e-type. The covers came off, the crowd gushed and the pen was priced right. Unfortunately under the hood there was a clapped-out 4 cylinder engine and bus-esque handling- a potential legend status was lost. I wrote to TWSBI asking if it was possible to manufacture this pen as a piston filler or vac filler but alas, no reply.

    So close but oh so far!

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