Writing quality of pen kits

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South Carolina, United States
I have turned many pens, but I still can't seem to find ones that actually write beautifully. I am getting ready to make a few pens and pencils for graduation presents and I want them to be truly wonderful writing instruments that these young friends will want to keep forever. I don't think that it is just a matter of paying more for the kit. I could really use some input on this before I start these gifts. Thanks in advance to anyone offering information.
 
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monophoto

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Mar 13, 2010
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Saratoga Springs, NY
I assume that you are targeting ball point or roller ball pens - I'm a fountain pen user myself, and acknowledge that to be a bit of an oddity. But if you are thinking fountain pens, the issue in most cases is that the nibs that come with kit pens often (generally) need tuning. You can learn to tune nibs, but you will need some supplies (sheet brass for 'flossing' tines, and brown paper bag for smoothing tips). And you will need some time and at least one pen to practice on - tuning is a skill that takes time to learn. I've found that the medium nib kit fountain pens in my collection write reasonably well, but I did have a problem with an El Grande with a fine nib.

So the key issue in writability with ball point and roller ball pens is not the kit itself, but rather the refill. Most kits come with generic refills that are pretty crappy, and the best way to make them write better is to replace the generic refill with something of quality. Keep in mind that in most cases, the cost of the entire kit isn't greatly different from the cost of a quality refill, so the 'original equipment' is likely to be pretty lousy. So if the kit uses a generic Cross clone, replace it with genuine Cross. Or if it uses a Parker style refill, replace it with a real Parker refill. You should be able to find both Cross and Parker refills at Office Max or Staples.

There are other brands that are almost as good as Cross and Parker, but make sure that you are getting the real, branded product and not a no-name ripoff. Monteverde and Schmidt refills have a good reputation.
 
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magpens

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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
@minipearlholmes

If you are asking about ballpoint pens, then, as Louie said, it's the refill. . Same is probably true of rollerballs.

The refill that comes in the kit needs to be replaced immediately ....... BEFORE you gift the pen !

ExoticBlanks.com has a really good offer of upgrading the kit refill (for a very significant cost saving) at the time you purchase the kit.
 

jttheclockman

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NJ, USA.
@minipearlholmes

If you are asking about ballpoint pens, then, as Louie said, it's the refill.

The refill that comes in the kit needs to be replaced immediately ....... BEFORE you gift the pen !

ExoticBlanks.com has a really good offer of upgrading the kit refill (for a very significant cost saving) at the time you purchase the kit.
Not so fast there. Some refills are very good especially the Dayacom ones. The ones in slimlines and cheaper kits I agree. What I suggest is if you are selling or gifting then I would look into vendors that sell groups of upgraded pen refills. You can get 10 for less than if you were to buy individual even as an upgrade. Look around.
 

tbfoto

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Dec 16, 2009
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318
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Lafayette, Indiana
I have turned many pens, but I still can't seem to find ones that actually write beautifully. I am getting ready to make a few pens and pencils for graduation presents and I want them to be truly wonderful writing instruments that these young friends will want to keep forever. I don't think that it is just a matter of paying more for the kit. I could really use some input on this before I start these gifts. Thanks in advance to anyone offering information.
I agree with the original poster here. I've turned for many years but it seems that pens given to me by my insurance man write better than the ones I can make. I even bought a batch of "Private Reserve Easy Flow 9000 M" brand refills as suggested here on this forum as being a superior refill only to have very poor results with them. Vendor I bought them from told me that I needed to light a match under the ink tip whenever it doesn't write well. REALLY???? I cant tell a customer to put a match flame to their pens all the time. I've not turned pens for a while now basically because of this. I just had a bathroom remodeled. My contractor gave me a free pen with his invoice. It writes VERY smooth. Guess I'll look into this more.
 

jttheclockman

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Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
15,244
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NJ, USA.
I agree with the original poster here. I've turned for many years but it seems that pens given to me by my insurance man write better than the ones I can make. I even bought a batch of "Private Reserve Easy Flow 9000 M" brand refills as suggested here on this forum as being a superior refill only to have very poor results with them. Vendor I bought them from told me that I needed to light a match under the ink tip whenever it doesn't write well. REALLY???? I cant tell a customer to put a match flame to their pens all the time. I've not turned pens for a while now basically because of this. I just had a bathroom remodeled. My contractor gave me a free pen with his invoice. It writes VERY smooth. Guess I'll look into this more.
I hear this. I got a ton of free ad pens and use them all the time and they write great. :)
 

EricRN

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May 16, 2019
Messages
436
Recently I started swapping out the Parker generic with Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 - very smooth.
+1 for the easy flow. That’s my preference. I’ve got one repeat customer who swears by the Parker Quinkflow.

For roller balls, I like the Schmidt 5888 (the metal one). The Dayacom and Beaufort ink kits, I am pretty sure, come with a Schmidt 888 (the plastic one), but the writing ball is the same as the 5888–both are nice writers.

I’ve yet to find a cross style refill that I like.
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
4
Location
South Carolina, United States
I assume that you are targeting ball point or roller ball pens - I'm a fountain pen user myself, and acknowledge that to be a bit of an oddity. But if you are thinking fountain pens, the issue in most cases is that the nibs that come with kit pens often (generally) need tuning. You can learn to tune nibs, but you will need some supplies (sheet brass for 'flossing' tines, and brown paper bag for smoothing tips). And you will need some time and at least one pen to practice on - tuning is a skill that takes time to learn. I've found that the medium nib kit fountain pens in my collection write reasonably well, but I did have a problem with an El Grande with a fine nib.

So the key issue in writability with ball point and roller ball pens is not the kit itself, but rather the refill. Most kits come with generic refills that are pretty crappy, and the best way to make them write better is to replace the generic refill with something of quality. Keep in mind that in most cases, the cost of the entire kit isn't greatly different from the cost of a quality refill, so the 'original equipment' is likely to be pretty lousy. So if the kit uses a generic Cross clone, replace it with genuine Cross. Or if it uses a Parker style refill, replace it with a real Parker refill. You should be able to find both Cross and Parker refills at Office Max or Staples.

There are other brands that are almost as good as Cross and Parker, but make sure that you are getting the real, branded product and not a no-name ripoff. Monteverde and Schmidt refills have a good reputation.
I actually love fountain pens, but I don't think that most people agree. I am also tired of crappy pens. I will look into your suggestions. Thanks very much.
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
4
Location
South Carolina, United States
@minipearlholmes

If you are asking about ballpoint pens, then, as Louie said, it's the refill. . Same is probably true of rollerballs.

The refill that comes in the kit needs to be replaced immediately ....... BEFORE you gift the pen !

ExoticBlanks.com has a really good offer of upgrading the kit refill (for a very significant cost saving) at the time you purchase the kit.
Definitely a good idea to replace before gifting. Thanks.
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2021
Messages
4
Location
South Carolina, United States
Not so fast there. Some refills are very good especially the Dayacom ones. The ones in slimlines and cheaper kits I agree. What I suggest is if you are selling or gifting then I would look into vendors that sell groups of upgraded pen refills. You can get 10 for less than if you were to buy individual even as an upgrade. Look around.
Looking into buying groups. Thanks
 

WillyEd

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Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Messages
1
Location
Berthoud, Colorado
I have made several slimline pens from Woodcraft and from Penn State. I have had positive comments on the writing/ink flow of the original refills.
My concern is the penkit mechanisms. I have had some that will not hold the tip extended while writing(it slowly retracts while writing) and also found that some of them are extremely tight when pulling the barrel apart to replace the refill.
Does anyone have a favorite supplier for their penkits?
 
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