The first launch of the DRILLOG on Kickstarter ended in November 2021 to much hype and fanfare. Many people were excited by the machined metal dip nibs as a unique and durable alternative to glass, plastic or the classic, bent metal, dip nibs. To continue the excitement, this month, on Kickstarter, they launched a new v.2 version of the DRILLOG pen barrels and new nibs.
The DRILLOG products have been created by folks at Shion, a Japanese factory specializing in precision metal processing. They have manufactured aircraft parts in the past so they clearly have machining down to a science. The company currently operates two product brands: NEIGHBOR & CRAFTSMAN, a brand based on the theme of comfortable neighbors and DRILLOG, a brand that pursues the possibilities of writing instruments.
I was sent a sample of the DRILLOG graft spiral barrel/grip section (approx. $94USD) and a 0.5mm dip nib (approx. $95USD) making the total reward cost $189USD plus any shipping fees.
The Graft Spiral barrel/grip section is extremely tiny.
Capped (closed): 77mm (3.125″)
Posted: 111mm (4.425″)
Nib & grip section: 65mm (2.625″)
The rear section with the holes (assumedly for attaching to a key chain or carabiner) can be unscrewed and replaced with a full length body section that either matches the grip section or not. A plain aluminum, full-length barrel is about $102USD. For the full length “Classical Spiral” to match the Spiral Graft grip section on the model I received, is about $118USD. The spiral pattern on the grip section makes it wider than some of the other grip options and creates natural divots for your fingers.
The model configuration that I tested weighs 20gms capped or posted. It is not usable unposted since it threads into the barrel at the grip section.
I placed the Pilot Custom 912 next to the DRILLOG for size comparison.
I received the 0.5mm nib for testing which is considered comparable to a EF nib. I find this to be a fair comparison. I was able to write for a good long while before needing to dip again. I tested several different types of ink to see if different brands behaved differently with the metal nib. I did notice a slightly wider line with a wetter ink but nothing too shocking.
I know that some people who received samples or early versions of the DRILLOG nibs from the first Kickstarter had some issue with ink flow. The nib I received came with some care instructions that clearly outlined the likelihood that oils (particularly HAND oils) and debirs can build up in the fine grooves in the nib and the best course of action is to start off by handling the nib as little as possible. If you do start to run into issues, they recommend cleaning it carefully and using a toothbrush or other small, gentle brush to remove dirt, dried ink or other debris from the grooves. I think a nice trip through an ultrasonic cleaner with a little pen flush would probably also be useful if you run into any ink retention issues.
One of the interesting discoveries I made while testing the DRILLOG nib and barrel was that once the nib was loaded with ink, I could lay it almost flat onto the paper and use the nib to apply a swathe of ink on the page. This discovery made ink swatching an even easier task. Dip the DRILLOG nib, lay it along your paper or Col-o-ring card to apply a large patch of color, then dip again to write the name of the ink. Dip the nib into water to clean, wipe with a clean towel and start your next swatch sample. Easy peasy!
The prices are approximate as the USD to Japanese Yen rate may vary between the time of selecting a reward and when the fees are processed. This Kickstarter project has two weeks left and is already fully funded.The prices are approximate as the USD to Japanese Yen rate may vary between the time of selecting a reward and when the fees are processed. This Kickstarter project has two weeks left and is already fully funded.
The DRILLOG project is very unique and definitely ushers in a new era is dip pens. It’s a very modern alternative to the dip pens of the past. Is it better? That’s hard to say definitively. It’s certainly a pricier option to the $7 Speedball nib holder and $2 nib. That said, this is definitely designed for an audience comfortable with spending $200+ on a fountain pen who is looking for a modern maker answer to the question “How should I test/play with my inks?” Which side are you on?