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Ask DTPW?: Best Wide Barrel/Thicker Nib Pens

06/07/2011

[If you’d like to hit me up with a question use the comment form! I’ll do my best to get back to you asap and if you’d like I’ll even answer your question here.]

The Crayola Liv 3-in-1

I have stumbled onto your blog from Pen Addict and I am very excited because most pen blog writers love the super fine pens of 0.5 or smaller whereas a 0.7 is my minimum requirement. Currently I am going back and forth between ball points for their smoothness and rolling balls for their darkness. So if you don’t mind, given you enjoy a wide barrel and thicker line, like I do, which pen do you think is the ultimate for that description? – Cheryl

Cheryl and I are simpatico as it relates to pens. As much as I try living in a thinner barrel/smaller nib world I just can’t do it. I have the childlike chubby hands of an eager kindergardener and have never really enjoyed the feel of thinner barrels. Unfortunately, there is a chasm between quality writing instruments and the sort of barrel/nib requirements Cheryl and I seek. Wide barrel body/thicker lines are generally the domain of janky side of Pentown. Finding both a barrel with some heft and decent writing performance requires the patience of a saint.

Third from the left! Look at that 70s faux medical goodness!

The standard I use comes from my childhood Fisher-Price Medical Kit. I never used the thermometer for thermometering, but rather pretended it was a pen. I guess in some ways I’m still searching for a pen that approximates the shape, size and feel of the therometer, except, – well, you know – actually writes. After an exhaustive search through my collection here are a couple of options I think hit the mark. (in no particular order)

1. A&W Nite Companion Pen – $8.95 – This pen is a fave for its sleek barrel design and its impressive dark ink. More importantly, it’s refillable/hackable. Currently, I have Stadtler’s 1.6MM Ink cartridge in mine. It’s damn near the perfect pen.

2. You might have to hack your way to a near perfect blend of wide barrel/thicker line

It’s a pain in the butt, but ultimately offers the best chance at creating a pen that suits your needs. More importantly, it is kind of fun. And sustainable. Clutch Pencils/Lead Holders are sublime for this! I hacked this cheapie Art Alternative lead holder with a Stadtler 1.6MM ink cartridge and the pen never stops being thrilling. In fact, this might be the cheaper, less stress-inducing options, given that the hardest part is finding the perfect lead holder.

3. Foray Focus Fine Writing Pen

Big box office supply retailers often do seasonal lines of their house brand fine writing pens and this might be a more elegant compromise between the headaches of hacking and any fear generated by the hunt for the near perfect clutch pen/lead holder. Like my birthday pen, the Foray Focus fine writing pen doesn’t sacrifice styling for barrel heft. It’s possible to marry the two in a stylish product, but again, it requires a bit more hunting. Still, it’s absolutely worth it.

Despite loving the mess out of a silly, chunky Novelty Pen there need to be more stylish and elegant options for those of us who prefer our lines thicker and our barrels chunky! Thanks for the great question, Cheryl!

More resources:

Doctors’ Offices – home to an assortment of hackable, chunky barrel pens, but often turn one into a writing advertisement for some weird FDA approved drug.

Amusement Parks, Tacky Tourist Traps – some of my favorite chunky barrel, not-especially cheesy pens have come from various amusement parks I’ve visited. Nearly all have at least a 1.0mm line! Usually ballpoint ink, but it’s often the good, smooth dark kind. Plus, the pens are often hackable.

Drug Stores & Big Box Crafting Stores – the best bet for recently discontinued products and off brand merch brimming with potential.

Dear readers, if you have any other pen suggestions, drop ’em in the comments!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 06/07/2011 7:23 pm

    Ooh, new commenting options!

  2. 06/13/2011 4:15 am

    I just got the Art Alternative Clutch Pencil in the mail and it’s a delight. I actually have it hacked with the Bic Velocity 1.6mm which seems crazy but it’s smoother than the statdler 1.6. thanks!

  3. 06/13/2011 4:15 pm

    OOOH! I am going to to review that pen next week! Oh I’m so glad an option worked for you. And… you have a bit of office supply goodness heading your way shortly 🙂

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