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Long-ish review of the aluminum RENDER-K pen

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by sheriferson, May 25, 2012.

  1. sheriferson

    sheriferson Loaded Pockets

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    I finally received my RENDER-K pens in the mail today. I felt compelled to write a bit of a detailed review, and since EDCForums was the only place I've seen the pens discussed, and they strike me as EDC material, I think this is the appropriate venue.

    (unfortunately, I can only review the aluminum pens. I wish I had a brass one as well, but I wanted more than one aluminum, and there was no option on the Kickstarter project page to get 3 aluminum and 1 brass. I'm fairly certain I'll end up ordering a brass one from their website.
    And, because my photography is suboptimal, I hope KarasKustoms will be okay with me using a one of their photos instead :] )

    [​IMG]

    In the package:
    - Pen body and screw-on tip + cap
    - Spring and spacer for Parker refills
    - Polytubing that can be cut to make one's own spacer for other refills
    - Instructions manual from KarasKustoms


    ### First impression

    The first thing that came to mind when I unwrapped the pens from their packaging was: shiny! The pens were a lot brighter than I expected them to be, but that's probably just because all I had seen so far were photos of medium quality or in weird lighting.
    Peering at the pens inside the packaging revealed no noticeable differences amongst the 3 that were delivered. This is significant. It tells me that the machining and the finish were precise, and no obvious random errors were introduced in the process.

    Second thing I noticed before touching the pens was the contrast between the clips and the pens. The pens are made from anodized 6061 aluminum, while the clips are steel, and are a bit darker than the pen body. This was not an issue for me, and in fact I think it made for nice and pleasant contrast. I would be less happy with the contrast on the brass versions though.


    ### The feel and use

    My first reaction once I held the pen was that it was noticeably light. This is only because I had been using an unusually heavy pen recently (2.15 oz), and so this was light in comparison. After using the aluminum RENDER-K for a while, I think its weight is ideal for comfortable use for long periods of time.

    Unscrewing the cap produced a bit of a squeak that would have been unpleasant if it stayed, but after a few hours of use and removing the cap and putting it back about a dozen times, the squeak has died down and it just gives a nice dull metal feel and sound while twisting shut.

    The Hi-Tec-C refills for which this pen was mainly designed fit perfectly in all 3 pens. Another A+ in precise machining. I've been using another machined Hi-Tec-C pen in which, in 2 of 3 pens that I received, the refill jiggled about quite a bit and required a spring to keep it stable. None of that here.

    Other than what I have already mentioned, the pen handles and writes beautifully.


    ### The Mighty Clip

    The clip is one of the main reasons this pen is ideal for me. This clip can withstand full-frontal aerial assault. Seriously, it's ridiculously tough. I wondered about whether I'd be able to obtain replacement clips from KarasKustoms, and now I realize that unless I unscrew the clip and lose it somehow, a replacement will never be needed.
    This will become my every day carry, no question about it.

    Bonus: I used the fact that the clip is screwed on to my advantage. I bought my own socket cap screws and replaced the original screws (specs: "2-56 pan head slotted stainless steel machine screws that are 3/16" long") on one of the pens, and that's how I differentiate between my main pen (black ink), and secondary pen (blue ink).


    ### The finish and texture

    Another thing I did not expect and absolutely love about the pen is the texture of the finish. There are very slight ridges on the pen that - I am guessing - are the result of the finish cut/run (I'm out of my element here). You can't see them, and you can barely feel them, but they give nice traction, grip, and texture to the pen.


    ### Conclusion

    In all honesty, this is the first pen I get that has no downsides (for my use and preferences) when it comes to practicality and every day carry. KarasKustoms did a fantastic job on the design and execution. You can, and should, go order them from their website: http://karaskustoms.com/pens.html

    Oh and, Made in USA!!! What more do you need.
     
    barlas, bluedevil76, porkchop and 2 others like this.
  2. IMWILSON
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
    • In Omnia Paratus

    IMWILSON EDC Wizard

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    Nice review Sheriferson. I still can't convince myself to spend that much on a pen. I think Jon is going to get some for the forum store. I might talk myself into buying one then. :)
     
  3. xbanker
    • Administrator

    xbanker Geriatric Admin
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    Nice review sheriferson. Thank you.

    You commented favorably about the feel and grip:
    Normally, I like at least light knurling on a machined pen. Without, the grip (for me anyway) suffers after using for more than a few minutes. Your comments suggest this wasn't an issue for you ("there are very slight ridges on the pen"). So, to emphasize, the lack of knurling not an issue?
     
  4. JonSidneyB
    • Administrator

    JonSidneyB Uber Prepared
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    I have ten Brass ones on the way to me.
     
  5. sheriferson

    sheriferson Loaded Pockets

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    To clarify, those ridges are really ever so slight. They are an artifact from the machining rather than a deliberate design choice. So, the difference in grip is more like that from a very slippery shiny metal to one that won't slide in your hands after a while, or with slight perspiration. I guess I can't answer your question with complete certainty because preferences and hand-sizes differ. Lack of knurling is not an issue for me - the grip from those ridges is sufficient, but the way we use our pens may vary.

    Also, depending on how high you like your grip to be, you might hold the pen at the level that contains the threading for the cap. I just tried that, and it worked fine, so that might give you more grip. But it won't be as much as the grip from knurling. If your minimum grip/knurling required is that of, say, the Zebra F-701, this pen might not be for you, especially because in addition to lack of knurling, the barrel below the threading level has smaller diameter than that of the F-701.
     
  6. flatline

    flatline Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for the excellent review!

    Out of curiosity, what is the width of the barrel below the threads?

    --flatline
     
  7. sheriferson

    sheriferson Loaded Pockets

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    Below the threads: diameter is 6 mm

    Incidentally: measured using the Messograf caliper pen, heh.
     
    justmyluck likes this.
  8. RMinNJ

    RMinNJ Loaded Pockets

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    Can you comment on the pen with a Parker refill installed? Does the refill move in the hole for the tip or
    is the tolerance tight? Being it's designed for the Hi-Tec-C refill I'm curious if my Parker refills will fit as
    precisely?
     
  9. sheriferson

    sheriferson Loaded Pockets

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    Yes, I've tried it with the Parker refill. With the spring and spacer included, the fit is really tight. There is no movement at all as far as I can tell. The fit is either better or as good as on my Jotter.

    This is a photo of the pen with the Parker refill from their photobucket gallery (older prototype without the knurling, clean finish, or anodizing). You might not be able to tell much about the fit from the picture, but as I mentioned, it's great.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Bauzen

    Bauzen Loaded Pockets

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    Doesn't look the that barrel is tapered towards the rear of the pen in that image.
    I was actually curious how that would look. Thanks for posting that.
     
  11. RMinNJ

    RMinNJ Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks... it certainly seems like a versatile pen...can use my such a vast array of refills. I personally prefer a clicking /retractable pen but if I decide on a capped pen this would be the one.
     
  12. mhphoto

    mhphoto Loaded Pockets

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    I've got a nice blue stain from a Hi-Tec-C loaded into my Al Render K. I've been having serious problems with the pens (especially the aluminum model) coming unscrewed in my pocket just from walking around. It's bad enough that they're both desk only pens now. It's a shame, because they're perfect otherwise. I think they should revise the design and include a standard sized o-ring like the first generation Embassy Pens.
     
  13. sheriferson

    sheriferson Loaded Pockets

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    Interesting. I have not experienced this with any of the 3 aluminums that I got, and I have my pen clipped to my front pocket while biking, among other activities/movement. I wonder how many of the pens have that issue.
     
  14. Bauzen

    Bauzen Loaded Pockets

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    I'm fairly certain that if you contact Karas Customs, they'll swap yours out. They seem like nice people.
     
  15. Eciton

    Eciton Loaded Pockets

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    My shiny new Al Render K came unscrewed in my pocket today, second day of carrying it -- my jeans bent the thin nib of the exposed Hi-Tec C so it's unusable, and the refill leaked inside the pen barrel too. Not a good day!
     
  16. flatline

    flatline Loaded Pockets

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    Try pressing the edge of the cap against the table just enough to deform it a bit. That should add some friction to prevent it from coming unscrewed in your pocket. I did that to my aluminum embassy pen to fix the exact same problem you've just described.

    Alternatively, you could put a little tape inside the cap. That might add some friction when the cap is screwed on.

    --flatline
     
    Eciton likes this.
  17. Makahbay

    Makahbay Banned

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    Just received one too. It has some design flaws imho.

    The Hi-Tec C refill jiggles a bit when installs. It is not a tight fit, and there's no room to add a spring. I solved this by using a very thin slice of the plastic insert material included for other brands of refills. Took 3 tries to get a perfect sized sliver of material.

    It needs an o-ring to hold the cap on. People have already commented on Kickstarter that the cap works loose in pockets.

    It would have been nice if the cap screwed onto the butt end when not in use.

    The clip is seriously robust, it could have been thinner spring steel.

    I have a request in to a Modder with a mill/lathe here on EDC to see if he can add an o-ring groove and threads for the end. I hope he can at a decent price -- while it might make the pen less aesthetically pleasing, it would make it far more usable imho.
     
  18. sheriferson

    sheriferson Loaded Pockets

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    Really strange... I wonder if there is one (or more) batches where something went wrong or something. I received three and none of them demonstrate the flaws you're mentioning. And others on the comments page are also saying theirs are fine.

    I think they - or someone - mentioned that it was considered, and decided against. I agree with that design decision. Threading the back for cap posting would have ruined the pen aesthetically, and undermined that it's designed to be a rugged pen that looks normal enough for average every day use/carry. Not to mention thrown the weight/balance of the pen out of whack. In my experience, you can either design a metal pen for cap posting, or not, and it won't work the other way around.
     
  19. Makahbay

    Makahbay Banned

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    I mostly agree, and knew I wouldn't like the inability to put the cap on the end before ordering. It's the same thing I dislike about the Embassy pens.

    Looking at the ID of the cap, and the OD of the body, it seems very easy to cut just 2 large threads so the cap can go 1/4 turn on. Yes it'd change the aesthetic, but I've always been a function over form guy. And imho the caps weight is negligible, I can write fine with it simply set on the end (don't even notice the weight).

    As to the inside of the pen body being cut too deep so the Hi-Tc insert rattles and moves, yeah I haven't heard anyone else mention that issue. I definitely have it on my example.
     
  20. Bauzen

    Bauzen Loaded Pockets

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    Keep in mind there are at least 5 various models of Hi Tec C refills.
    If one doesn't fit correctly, there's a possibility you may have purchased the wrong one.

    My cap fits perfectly, and my ink doesn't bounce around... But that's me.