Tag Archives: Beginner Fountain Pens

Pilot Kakuno :)

When we receive shipments in from our distributors or manufacturers, Jon likes to organize it all in a calm and efficient manner – clearing off space, getting invoices out, counting. He hates it when he’s trying to count the pens and it seems like something is missing, but it’s really just already in my hand and full of ink. I’ve been trying my best to resist, but it’s been pretty exciting over the last few days as we’ve gotten a few boxes from Pilot with special order items from Japan. It hasn’t even been anything so tremendously anticipated, like the Blue Midori’s or last year’s Stormy Grey ink, but I guess it’s like when you order stuff online, and it finally arrives at your doorstep!

Pilot is actually distributed by Crestar here in Canada, but we sometimes ask them to special order items from Japan that aren’t stocked regularly. It’s a bit of organizing (and a lot of guesswork to get these special orders timed right, but the folks at Crestar are really great people 🙂

Pilot Kakuno Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

The first of these new pens to share is the Pilot Kakuno is probably the one I’m most excited about. We have a few different colours in the two available nib sizes, fine & medium. Depending on how things go, we may expand the colours and nib sizes. I sometimes hear about parents and kids interested in handwriting and writing, and I’m not sure if it’s that I’m listening more or that there is really a growing interest in it all.

With a Fine Nib we have: Grey & Blue
With a Medium Nib we have: Grey, Green, Orange & Pink

The pen comes with only a cartridge! No converter included. Pilot is proprietary, so you’ll need to get either more Pilot cartridges or a Pilot Converter.

This is a pen marketed towards school-aged children to help them learn how to write with pens or fountain pens, similar to the Lamy ABC. The Kakuno has a friendly font on the cap, which you can purchase in the different colours, and the pen itself is a bit smaller and slightly chunkier than the Metropolitan. What the Kakuno is most well-known for, though, is a bit hard to notice unless you’re looking for it: it has a smiley face on its nib.

Pilot Kakuno Wonder pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Supposedly this smiley face is to help remind kids that you write with the pen nib side up. I feel a bit like once you learn that it’s supposed to be nib side up, you don’t need too many reminders, so I like to think the smiley face is just there to be a friendly face in life… then again, maybe it’s been too long since I’ve been around school-aged children. I recall having to remind 13-year-olds that pencils are for writing with, not putting up a nostril, and then putting back into the communal pencil jar.

It was a coin toss between the orange and the green for me, but I already have a Copper Orange Al-Star and a TWSBI 580 AL in orange, so it was the green.

Pilot Kakuno Wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Toronto Canada

I waffle back and forth between wanting my inks to match the general colour of the pen, but I happened to have Rohrer & Klinger’s Alt-Goldgrun on my desk. It’s one of my favourite greens, a good spring/summer/fall ink, but also good at Christmas, so it’s basically a year-round sort of ink.

This is a medium nib in the Kakuno, which will be the same as the medium Metropolitan, but closer to a European Fine (Lamy Fine, Kaweco Fine). Japanese nibs tend to write a bit finer than European nibs.

Rohrer & Klingner Alt Gold-GrĂĽn Pilot Kakuno Wonder pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

The grip is a translucent, bur dark, and is also triangular shaped, which helps guide your fingers into the right angle for writing. It’s not as pronounced or defined as the Lamy Safari/Al-Star grip, a bit more rounded or softer.

It’s a pretty light pen, made out of plastic, so it will be good for longer writing sessions. The plastic is super durable, maybe in anticipation of getting knocked around a bit. The snap cap is secure, closing and opening with a solid snap, and will post on the back of the pen securely. There’s no clip, but both the cap and the body are hexagonal so they won’t roll off your desk.

The nib is basically the same as the Metropolitan, except that it has a smiley face on it. It’s smooth, firm and a nice wetness. This is a pen you don’t have to worry about.

Pilot Kakuno Wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Toronto Canada

The Pilot Kakuno is just a cute, sweet pen. If you like the Metropolitan and how it writes, you will also like the Kakuno.

It’s great for students and children, but it’s also just a fun pen that’s – like all Pilot pens, such as the Metropolitan, the 78G, the Prera – reliable, consistent and easy to write with. Sometimes that’s what it comes down to – the pen just writes when pull it out of your pocket, uncap it and put it to paper. A great all around pen.

 

 

Lamy Nib Sizes – What Nib Size Should I Get?

When you don’t have an opportunity to try a pen out, it can sometimes be difficult to know what nib size you want.

If you’re new to fountain pens, here are some considerations to think about:

1. Size of your handwriting: if you have smaller handwriting, or frequently need to write in smaller spaces, then consider a smaller nib size.
If you would like to use your pen to express your handwriting with more ‘character’ you may also consider a broader nib, as you will be able to get slightly more variation with it.

2. Dry time of ink, or when and where you’re writing: if you’re on the go or need to move quickly, you will probably benefit from having your writing dry faster. While ink and paper are pretty important factors in how fast your writing dries, the finer the nib size, the faster it will dry as there’s less ink on the page.
On the other hand, if you’re writing letters or journaling at home, the dry time may not be as big a factor for you.

3. Smoothness of writing: of course there will always be buttery smooth EF nibs and scratchy B nibs, but in general with all things similar, an EF nib may be just ever-so-slightly scratchier as it’s …an extra fine point on your page. There’s less lubrication from the ink, so the nib may not glide quite as smoothly – but it also does have to do with the maker. A beautifully made Sailor EF nib may end up better than a B nib from a poorer company.

4. Calligraphic or italic nibs: these are designed specifically for calligraphy and have a straight across cut as opposed to a rounded edge. This enables you to draw a consistently fine line in one direction, and a consistently broad line in the opposite direction.

5. Left-handed: Lamy does make a left-handed nib, which I would put at between a fine and a medium. The nib is slightly more rounded than the other nibs, to make it smoother as you ‘push’ into the paper from the left side. While it is not vastly different from writing with a regular nib, but each person’s writing experience can be quite personal.

Lamy Nib Sizes

The Lamy Safari is a terrific pen to start with. It’s durable and consistent, isn’t prone to leaks or cracks, and is pretty forgiving in maintenance. The added bonus of being able to buy and swap out just the nibs as you get used to fountain pens is also nice.

You can look at the samples to get a sense of how wide the line will be, and compare it how you generally write.

The nib size samples above were written with Noodler’s Burma Road Brown.

You know your own handwriting and what you’re doing best, but if you really have no idea what size nib you’d like, I would suggest going with a Fine nib. It’s a good standard nib size for everyday writing, and Lamy nibs are smooth, with good flow.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen with Platinum Red Ink

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Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – Clear and Red

The Platinum Preppy is probably one of the most common starter fountain pens, mainly because of its price. It’s simple, easy to use, writes easily and quickly, not you’re generally not too worried about banging it up.

It comes in a bunch of different coloured caps/nibs (all with a clear body), and right now we carry Black, Blue and Red in M (0.5). It’s good for new writers, kids, just to play around with or as a back-up. If you’re an artist or someone who likes to have a lot of different inks going at the same time, you want to get a few of these.

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Platinum Preppy disassembled

The Preppy is a cartridge/converter fountain pen, and comes with one cartridge in the colour of the nib. One downside to this pen is that it only takes proprietary refills – so a Platinum converter or Platinum cartridges.

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Platinum Red Ink in Bottled and Cartridge Form

Because this is such a low cost pen, many writers choose not to get the converter, which actually costs more than the pen itself. If you want to use different ink, you have two options:

1. Use a syringe to refill a cartridge (make sure you rinse it out well first!)
2. Convert the whole pen into an eyedropper. For this, you will need to get some silicone grease to put around the threads.

 

Platinum's Seal Mechanism

Platinum’s Seal Mechanism

One nice feature for this pen is that it comes with a seal mechanism that keeps your pen from drying out for longer periods of time. When you put the cap on the pen and it clicks into place, you can see the extra inner cap press onto the spring, ensuring a double seal.

All of the pens come with a clear section so you can see the feed, and the nibs match the caps.

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Close-up of Platinum Preppy Feed and Nib

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Writing Sample – Platinum Preppy Pen (M) with Platinum Ink on Rhodia Paper

The pen writes smoothly and evenly – a great nib for the price! It’s a steel nib that actually writes more smoothly than pens much higher in cost. New fountain pen users may find this pen easier to write with as it seems to have a larger “sweet spot” to get the ink going.

It might take a minute or two to get the ink through the feed to the nib when you first insert the cartridge, but after that, it has good flow without any issues.

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In all, this is a solid pen in value and writing quality. If you’re not sure about fountain pens, this is the place to start.

If this pen does really well for you, you might consider the Platinum Plaisir as your next step – it has the same nib and feed system, but an aluminum body rather than plastic.

For reviews of the pen:
Pen Addict
Peninkcillin