On-the-Level-with-Monteverde-Tool-Pens Pen Boutique Ltd

On the Level with Monteverde Tool Pens

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After all my recent long, in-depth Pilot articles, I thought a fun and simple topic would be a nice change of pace. I've been curious about Monteverde's popular Tool pens and pencil for a while, but never fully understood all the options or precisely how the pens work. The Monteverde Tool is a little gimmicky, but it's a clever kind of gimmicky and its extra features are actually useful! Monteverde Tool is sort of like the Swiss Army Knife of writing instruments, and is available as a mechanical pencil, ballpoint pen, fountain pen, and inkball pen (rollerball that uses fountain pen cartridges). 

 

All the Features

As my brother quipped when I showed him the Monteverde Tools, this is the perfect writing instrument to add to your collection "if you have a screw loose and you want to be more level-headed." 

Each one is six-sided, which keeps it from rolling away (a very important feature in a tool!), and has nine functions:

  1. Writing implement (fountain pen, inkball, ballpoint, or mechanical pencil)
  2. Stylus tip for touch-screen devices like your phone or tablet
  3. Philips head screwdriver 
  4. Flat head screwdriver
  5. Ruler with inches
  6. 1/100m metric scale
  7. 1/200m metric scale
  8. 1/300m metric scale
  9. Level or pencil eraser

My co-worker Leila has owned a ballpoint Tool Pen in Rainbow for about six months and carries it with her most of the time. It looks as good as new, and she constantly finds it helpful. She says it's a fun conversation piece, and is the pen she'll let other people use, so she doesn't have to worry about them mistreating her fountain pens.  It's her only ballpoint!  She has also given them to others as a gift, and thinks they're the perfect gift because they are such a delightful novelty but are also extremely practical. 

Leila uses her Tool Pen regularly to fix her glasses by tightening the screws with the screwdriver. The reversible screwdriver bit is hidden beneath the stylus end of the Tool, which easily unscrews to access it.  Having both the Philips and flathead screwdriver bits makes it extremely practical for all loose things.

I experimented with both, and found that I have several pairs of glasses with each style screw, and that the screwdriver does indeed fit them.  When you unscrew the stylus end of your Tool, be careful, because the screwdriver bit may not be locked into place, and you don't want to lose it.  If it's loose in the chamber, just insert it more fully, and it will fit tightly.

Choose which end you need to use, push it into place, then use the barrel of the Tool as a handle for leverage and control. If you have a ballpoint or pencil Tool, you can screw the stylus top end onto the threaded writing end for safe keeping while you use the screwdriver!  

Leila also uses the rulers on her pen, because, she says, "I'm bad at approximating."  When experimenting with the Tools, I realized that the ruler feature is handy both for measurements and as a straight edge.  I guess that should be obvious, but it didn't occur to me at first!  I used one in conjunction with a fountain pen to draw nice straight lines on my page.

Leila hasn't used the level on her pen, but I love levels, so I think it's the coolest function. I was a little sad to find out that the pencil doesn't have a level, but it is definitely more important to have an eraser when you're using a pencil, so I'll forgive the lack of level. There isn't room in the barrel for both, because the eraser tip is cleverly hidden inside the barrel and extends into the same space where the level lies on the pens. The eraser is found at the top of the lead holder, and is accessed by grabbing the knurled ring that you twist to extend the lead, then pulling the pencil point section out of the front of the barrel.  It's a friction-fit system, and just pulls straight out, but it needs to be fairly tight to maintain the pencil's structural integrity, so it takes a little effort to remove and I wouldn't recommend it for a child or someone with arm strength issues. 

We sell replacement erasers, so you can pop in a new one when yours gets used up.  We also have replacement screwdriversinkball tips, and stylus tips in black and silver.  (Don't lose your cap, or you'll need to contact the distribution company, Yafa, for a replacement!)

The level found in the three pens works great, and I actually used it for a practical purpose last night when I was working on this article and noticed, to my horror, that one of my fountain pen ink paintings was hanging crookedly!  I immediately pulled out a tool pen and placed it on top of the frame to straighten my art.  Have you checked the wall decor in your home or office lately? It's easy and fun with your handy Monteverde Tool.

(I painted this on July 5th, 2019. It's called "The Fifth of July." I love the colors and its messiness and the summer feelings and memories I have when I look at it.)

I also love the Monteverde Tool's stylus tip.  It's the feature I use most, and I actually recently bought a tiny Monteverde Poquito Stylus Ballpoint (available in solid blackcobalt bluepurplecopperwhiteracing redblack with gold trimcool greyMaui blue, and two-tone red/black) to carry with me and use when I need to do precise video editing on my phone for our social media posts. When I was writing this article, I carried a Tool and used that instead, and it worked just as well. I get very frustrated when I try to grab and drag the sliding bars to trim videos; my fingertips just aren't pointy enough to touch the exact right spot on the screen.  With the stylus tip, I am able to do the task much faster and better.  It's also great to poke the screen when making any sort of selection, especially if you have long nails, large fingers, or are wearing gloves.  Leila told me that this is a feature she uses a lot as well, as she often wears longer nails.  The stylus can be used on any capacitive touch devices that work by sensing when something that conducts electricity (such as a fingertip) is in contact with the screen. 

I don't usually wear shirts with pockets, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the Tool also has a nice flat springy clip that clips onto your shirt well and doesn't stick out very much.  You can also clip it to a notebook or pen case, and it holds on good and tight. Overall, the metal Tools feel well made, strong, and not cheap. 

 

Filling Your Pen

The three pens fill in the same way:  by pulling out the writing tip section to access the ink.  The ballpoint wouldn't need to be refilled as often, of course, and it takes a D1 mini ballpoint refill. The fountain pen and inkball both use standard international short ink cartridges, so you have the option of a huge variety of ink colors from many different great brands including Monteverde's own cartridges, DiamineGraf von Faber-CastellJ. HerbinPelikanMontblancKawecoWaterman, and more.

When you fill the pen, make sure you insert the cartridge fully.  Even though I'm an experienced fountain pen user, I didn't push my cartridge in far enough when I first tried the inkball pen, and I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't start writing!  Finally I discovered that it was user error.  Even though it felt like it was in tightly, it really needed to be pushed in hard to snap it into place and puncture the cartridge.  I pushed it down against a table to insert it fully, and then it worked like a charm. The knurled band around the cap will help you maintain a good grip when pulling out the section, and when pushing it down.

 

Writing Options

The fountain pen and inkball pen both write very smoothly, and I enjoyed the inkball a lot more than I expected.  It's great to have a rollerball type pen that uses fountain pen ink. The inkball is less wet than the fountain pen, and the Diamine Majestic Blue ink cartridge I used looked lighter and had less sheen in the inkball pen than it did in the fountain pens.  The inkball tip also doesn't have the feeling of bounce that you get with a nib, but it flows extremely well over the page.  The line width of the inkball was about halfway in between the fine and medium fountain pen nibs I tried.

The fountain pen comes in extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, stub, and omniflex (not all nib sizes come with all pens), but I only tried the fine and medium. Monteverde says they are approximately 0.2-0.3 mm for extra-fine, 0.5 mm for fine, 0.7 mm for medium, 1 mm for broad, and 1.1 mm on the stub. It's the same stainless steel #5 sized nib used on Monteverde's other smaller pens.

The medium nib was a little feathery on cheap paper, so I switched to fine, and both the fine nib and inkball did great, while the fine and medium nibs both looked excellent in my fountain pen friendly Mnemosyne notebook.

I'll admit a Tool Fountain Pen is absurd, but that's what makes it so fun.  Having no practical place to post the small cap when you're using the fountain pen and inkball is a little scary, but you can always hook the cap onto the clip while you're writing.  It's actually very secure there, although it does look a little odd.

One very cool thing about the nib on the Tool Pen is that, because it's friction fit rather than threaded, you can adjust it to your writing angle.  So, if you're like me and tend to roll your hand a little bit as you write, or if you are left-handed or hold your pen at an unusual angle for any other reason, you can compensate for this by turning the nib to whatever angle best suits your grip.  Sailor recently released a pen called the Tuzu with an adjustable grip, which allows you to unscrew the grip section and rotate it to different positions, but the Tool fountain pen's nib is infinitely adjustable.

The ballpoint comes with black ink, but the refill can be replaced with other colors, if you prefer blue, blue-black, or red, for example.  The 0.9 pencil lead feels a little thick for writing in a notebook, but, as my brother pointed out, it's the width you'd want in a tool, because it doesn't break easily and it could be used in a shop to mark wood, jot down notes, etc. 

I asked Leila if she uses her Tool Pen for lengthy writing sessions, and she replied, "I don't love the shape for continued writing, but that's what my fountain pens are for.  The shape is fine for jotting things down."  The shape also works great in a shop!  I find the Tool quite comfortable, and like the weight and balance a lot, although I agree that it's not the pen I would reach for as my #1 writing choice.  But, it's great for its intended purpose, and there's no reason you couldn't use it as your everyday carry pen.

 

Tool Color Choices

My co-worker in the store, Lauren, is an artist and loves pencils, but, when she bought a Tool, she chose the brass ballpoint because the 0.9 mm lead is too thick for the type of drawing she does.  She really likes her ballpoint, and uses it a lot in her college classes. She says it hasn't developed a patina yet, but she's looking forward to seeing how the brass will change over time and make her pen look unique.  I agree, the brass version of the Tool is great looking and has a vintage look that really stands out.  It also goes perfectly with a TRAVELER'S notebook!

There's just something about brass, but, actually, all the Tool colors are great, and each has its own personality.  The yellow one looks most like an actual tool, although orange is also pretty tool-ish and the contrasting black trim looks sharp.  Red looks the most like traditional lead holders used for drafting, while the solid black Tool with black trim just looks cool.

I also love the colors of the sleek silver and crisp blue Tools.  The silver version looks the most technical, while the dark blue pen's clean contrast with its white text really pleases me. 

Of course, there's something special about the rainbow Tool.  Rainbow finishes are available on a few other pens by Monteverde, like the limited edition Regatta Explorer in Demo Rainbow and the brand-new limited edition Formula Lightning 1999 Innova, but it's especially delightful and spectacular on the all-metal Tool!  The rainbow finish on the Tool is achieved with a PVD coating over the pen’s solid brass body, producing an alluring play of magenta, purple, cobalt, green and yellow hues that reflect on the mirror-like surface of the pen.

PVD, or Physical Vapor Deposition, refers to techniques where solid materials such as metals, ceramics, glass, and polymers are vaporized in a vacuum environment.  It changes the physical properties of the surface itself with a very minute buildup. The term "coating" is misleading... it's actually translucent, and doesn't add a substantial layer of coating to the metal, but instead physically bonds with the surface at the micron level. This technique is used in very high-tech applications, such as mechanical, electrical, acoustic, and chemical functions in the aerospace field and beyond, as well as in the optical and jewelry industry. The process provides additional vibrance, luster and durability to the pen and looks amazing! PVD coated metal will not patina, and is easy to wipe clean.

The orange and black Tools have black trim, rainbow and brass have gold trim, and all the others have silver trim.  The fountain pens all have silver colored steel nibs. I think the trim colors are very well chosen, and I had a lot of fun taking photos of Monteverde Tool.  It's a little different from my usual writing instrument of choice, but I actually got more and more impressed by the Tool as I got to know it better. 

I think the Monteverde Tool is cool, and that it would be a useful writing instrument to carry with you and have at hand. Although the Tool is traditionally thought of as a fun and functional gift for men, it's popular with people of all genders, and I love that both Lauren and Leila bought Monteverde Tools and use them regularly.  I wouldn't mind owning a Monteverde Tool, either!  They are affordable, useful, and perfect for the gadget lover in your life.  Maybe that gadget lover is you.

-Laura P.

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