A while back, I caught sight of some metal pens from a guy named Troy Clark. His company? Brute Force Design. His metal pens were gorgeous and his metal/wood hybrids even more so. He often worked with exotic, sometimes rare woods so when I came across my own rare(fish) wood, I knew just what to do with it.
About two years ago, my wife and I decided to remodel the kitchen in our home. Originally built in 1925 and having lived through the linoleum, formica and wood eras (yes, it featured all three), it was badly in need of a facelift. During the remodel, we needed some beams to form a room divider where a wall once stood. We were lucky enough to procure three 30-foot 3x8 heart pine beams salvaged from the original Sumter Railroad Depot here in Sumter, SC, which a couple of people we spoke to estimated at somewhere between 200 and 700 years old. After lopping off the pieces we need — the longest of which was some 16' and required four people to hold in place while it was bolted to the header — I sent a good chunk of the wood to Troy and asked him to make a pen with a Damascus cap and grip section and wood body. He wrestled with the wood for a while and despite the fact that the wood was extremely hard and a bit brittle, Troy managed to turn out a handful of really beautiful pen bodies, which he then paired not only with Damascus steel, but also Aluminum, Brass and Copper.
These pens are simply designed with just a cap, body and grip section which is removable to allow for refills. This pen takes the Pilot G2 refill as well as a number of other 110mm refills from Schmidt, etc. There are no screws, spacers or springs. It just unscrews and the refill drops in and you screw it back together.* Troy blended the wood and metal together perfectly which was no small task, I'm sure. Additionally, his threads are really nice and the seams between the metal parts are equally smooth. The whole pen feels seamless and high quality. All four of them. They're stunning.
* Note: Troy contacted me and corrected me on the spacer/screw/spring issue. There is, in fact, a screw at the bottom of the barrel. If you remove the grip section from the pen and remove the refill and look down inside the barrel of the pen, you'll find a slotted screw that is adjustable using a flat head screwdriver to precision-fit the refill of your choice. As I said before, this pen uses 110mm refills (Pilot G2, Pilot Juice, Schmidt Rollerball, etc.), but not all refills are created equal so this gives some room for variance in the refills. Thanks to Troy for clearing this up for all of us!
The brass and copper are picking up a nice patina with the copper fast becoming one of my favorite pens with a deep reddish orange patina that is starting to lean a little more towards plum. *Swoon* And the brass has started to mellow out slightly, settling in to a nice dusty gold color reminiscent of brass handrails in the finest old hotels. The aluminum pen is just happy as can be, shining bright and classy. No patina to speak of, but the bright silvery shine contrasts perfectly with the warm tones in the old pine wood of the body. All of these pens are lookers.
And while I find each pen beautiful in its own right, the Damascus is something special entirely. The swirling pattern on the steel parts is absolutely mesmerizing and offers a brilliant contrast to the grain of the wood, which runs almost perpendicular to the swirls on the cap and grip section. The threads on the Damascus version feel just very slightly gritty, but that's due to the nature of Damascus and isn't a slight on Troy's work at all. It's just something to be aware of if you're one to really notice things like the texture of threads.
You would think that pens with a wood body and metal cap/grip would be off-balance. And in most cases, you'd be right. But in the case of these pens, Troy has done something really smart: The wood is essentially just a sleeve that encases a metal pen. These pens are weighty and perfectly balanced throughout. Obviously, the aluminum is the lightest of the four, but the Damascus really does feel great in the hand and offers a nice weight that I've found comfortable for long meetings and writing sessions at work. They do feel a tad cap-heavy when capped, but there's a LOT of metal in the cap and grip section. And given that these are clipless pens, they won't be carried in a shirt pocket so the top-heavy weight when capped is sort of a moot point, but worth mentioning if, again, you're sensitive to balance, etc.
Speaking of balance, all of these pens will balance on a finger or two right at their mid sections uncapped. Which just proves how well Troy has made these. I'm all about form following function. In this instance, Troy has created a pen that is not only beautiful, but that carries itself well and functions as well as it looks. I've since procured an acrylic pen from Troy that I'll be reviewing soon, but [spoiler alert] it's easily as pleasing as these pens, if not more so. The guy just can't make a bad pen.
If you're in the market for something special — be it an acrylic pen or a machined pen in a range of materials from wood to ebonite to golden brass, rich copper or deep, swirly Damascus steel, look no further than Brute Force Design. You can find him online at BruteForceDesign.com or on Instagram @bruteforcedesign.