I figured I should probably make an FAQ of sorts, just in case anyone is curious about how I do things.
First of all, my process is informal as this is simply my hobby. I had the idea to start this blog as a way to document fountain pens that I thought were cool for future use. I’m not sponsored by anyone, seek no advertisement revenue, and otherwise do this for fun and to contribute to the collective knowledge of fountain pen community.
Anyways, here are my general rules:
- I start by hand writing a rough draft with the pen in question, mostly to serve as a writing sample. Sometimes my final draft is similar to this, sometimes it’s not.
- All reviews are done on a Rhodia no. 18 pad with graph ruling. This is mostly because I like them, but from a practical perspective the 5mm boxes serve as a reference for scale and Rhodia is the de facto standard fountain pen paper.
- I use whatever ink I feel like using. I try to avoid inks that would dramatically change the writing dynamics of the pen (such as inks that are really wet or really dry.)
- Measurements are done in metric even though I’m American because metric is easier.
- How I collect my measurements:
Approximate pen lengths in mm are gathered by placing the pen on my ruler and eyeballing it. My calipers aren’t long enough for most pens. Maybe I’ll get bigger calipers someday. I use my calipers for section diameters and round to the closest half-millimeter. I try to measure the smallest and largest places someone could practically hold the pen on the section or wherever one would typically grip the pen.
edit: Measurements of pen length and diameter in posts after December 2020 are made with a Neiko model 01408A digital caliper unless otherwise specified. Measurements are presented in millimeters and rounded to the closest half-millimeter. Section diameter measurements are still made at the smallest and largest points that one would realistically hold the pen unless otherwise specified.
- To calculate ink capacity:
- For converters or self-filling pens, I measure 3mL of ink using a 3mL syringe and put in into an Ink Miser Ink Shot well–available at most retailers. I fill the pen from the well as usual. I draw the remaining ink from the inkwell with my syringe and do math to figure out how much ink is left, giving me an approximate ink capacity.
- For cartridges or eyedropper pens, I either go by what the manufacturer says or measure the capacity with a syringe.
- For pen weights, I use my kitchen scale. I weigh the pen capped, just the pen, and just the cap. I check my work like a good student by making sure the cap weight+pen weight=total weight.
- Presently I use my wife’s Nikon camera and a cheap white box to take my pictures. My older reviews were taken with the crappy camera on my smart phone. I experiment with different aperture and shutter settings to try to get my photos to not look awful. I’m no photographer, but I’d like to think that I’m getting better. I use a simple Epson portable scanner for the writing samples.