I Know What I Like – Part 2

In I Know What I Like – Part 1, I went through a number of pens and pencils that have not made the cut for me. That list contained plenty of pens or pencils that I used quite a bit. However, they have not ultimately made it to the big time. To make a sports analogy, many of those pens and pencils made it as far as the quarterfinals. In this post, I will continue in the same vein; many of these pens are also quarterfinalists. Some could even be considered semifinalists. What likely separates the pens and pencils in this post versus those in IKWIL – Part 1 is that the former may not be sold/given away while the later probably will be. I may not use the pens and pencils here much, but I cannot bring myself to break up with them just yet and will continue to hold onto them for one more night.

It’s important to reiterate that all the items here and in IKWIL – Part 1 have positive qualities. In your eyes, these pens or pencils might be the bee’s knees, the bomb or all that and a bag of chips. For me, they are not making it onto the greatest hits collection.  Here goes…

  • Caran d’Ache 849 – I love the design of these pens. I love the color options of these pens. I also like the Caran d’Ache ballpoint refill well enough. Unfortunately, the whole is a bit less than the parts. Maybe it’s a weight thing. Maybe it’s a balance thing. Maybe it’s the “mushy” action of the knock. Whatever it is, the excitement and anticipation that the design and color of the 849 gives me is typically followed by a “meh” upon using it. I will narrow my 849 options down from the five or six I have to the one or two that have the most potential and hold off buying any more.
  • Karas Kustoms Render K G2 – The Render K G2 is, by far, my favorite Karas Kustoms pen. Design? Check! Colors? Double check! The grey anodization of the Render Ks is flat-out great. If you are thinking about getting a KK pen, get it in grey. Trust me. The pictures on their website are great but they do not do this classy color justice. I have three Render K G2 (blue, grey and orange/grey special edition) and they all look fantastic. As the name suggests, these pens take the popular Pilot G2 refill or the less popular but noticeably better Pilot Juice refill (Hackers will have even more options). More on this issue to come, but the Pilot Juice has become my gel refill of choice. So why is the Render K G2 also just on the outside looking in? Two words – grip and control. There is a bit of a step down from the pen body to the grip section which is not that big of a deal. What is a (big-ish) deal is that the grip section is ultimately a touch too narrow and more than a touch too slippery for my fingers. I want the Render K G2 to make my ultimate short list, I really do. But I cannot get past the slippery lack of control the grip inflicts on my writing. I will probably keep the orange and grey version I have for short note taking and say goodbye to the blue and grey pens. One more comment about Karas Kustoms. Their communication and customer service is tip top. I got the plug of a refill stuck inside the body of one of my pens and they replaced it quickly and with no questions asked. Good eggs to be sure.
  • Pentel Energel – The most viewed post on this blog is my write up of various Energel versions. Shockingly enough, that post will likely get top billing if you type “pentel energel review” into a Google search. Well, as I mentioned above, it is the Pilot Juice and not the Energel that has pride of place in my gel ranking. I still love the size and grip of the Energel-X and I will definitely keep a small number of Xs in stock, especially the orange, green and purple for grading. But the gel-based pens that I keep in my pocket and most handy on my desk incorporates a Juice refill. What pens might they be? You’ll just have to wait for I Know What I Like – Part 3. Anticipation is half the fun. I will tell you that it is not the Pilot Juice pen itself.
  • Blue Staedtler 925 Mechanical Pencil – Among the many drafting pencils I have, the Staedtler 925 plays second fiddle to only one other option. Which one? Again, anticipation is half the fun. I have the 0.5, 0.7 and 0.9 mm versions of these sharp-looking pencils and if the wear on the grip area is any judge, I used the 0.7 mm version quite a bit over the years. The weight of this pencil is just about perfect and the clip sits high enough that it never interferes with the webbing of my hand as I rotate the pencil. But, the ever-so-slightly-too-thin diameter and the fact that the tip is fixed puts the Staedtler 925 closer to the bottom shelf for me. I’m not getting rid of my 925s anytime soon but I won’t be using them as frequently as another option.
  • Parker 51 – I mentioned a few more fountain pens in IKWIL – Part 1 than I’m going to discuss here. In all honesty, the fountain pen that is closest to making my final list but did not is probably the TWSBI Mini that I discussed in that earlier post. In the realm of vintage fountain pens, the Parker 51 came the closest to making the final list. I have owned three 51s over the years and each had their merits (most classic of classic designs, solid build quality, good weight and balance) but I have yet to find THE 51 with the proper balance of smoothness, tooth and ink flow (Yes, I did the professional nib adjustment thing with one of the previously owned 51s.) and I think I’m done looking. Then again, don’t give up Todd! Maybe I should take the 51 I have now for an adjustment to give this classic design one more chance.

Okay, that’s all for now. I have literally tried dozens upon dozens (maybe 100s) of other pens and pencils prior to and during the lifetime of this blog and I have zeroed in on a final list of pens and pencils I like most. When it comes to trying new stuff, I’m not saying I don’t care anymore. Trust me, I do. In fact, there is one category of pen that has a couple of tentative finalists but that I also consider actively in flux. Beyond that, I’m happy with my short list of pens and pencils and future additions/replacements will not be taken lightly. I know what I like. Part 3 coming soon.

8 thoughts on “I Know What I Like – Part 2

  1. Hello! Love your analysis. You have offered some pens that I have added to my collection and love. In a previous article about “things that you actually use,” you mentioned Field notes and yellow legal pads. Have you tried the Rhodia N#16 and Rhodia N#18? These are absolutely incredible pads and I will never go back to any other legal pad. The cover is a thick protective sheath that protects your first page from getting bent or frayed, and can be folded over the back of the pad to reveal the first page. Each page is perforated and can be easily removed. Lastly, the paper is very high quality. It’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.


    1. Sure, the Rhodia pads are great. I prefer the typical 8.5 x 11 sized pages so the Rhodia pads don’t get consistent enough use from me. I need to get over the size thing as the Rhodia surely are great.

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