Penetralia ~ Fountain pen review ~ Faber Castel Ondoro Smoked Oak

EF steel nib — beautiful smooth writer

This is a fantastic pen. I was given this pen as a gift from a very kind friend who was downsizing his collection and I have to say I’m very happy. Not only for the fact that it was free but also because it’s a lovely writer.

I’ve been using this pen for about a month or two and it’s replaced my Durograph Rainblow/Matte Black, only because they both have fine/EF nibs and I only need one Fine nib in my Shibui pen case at a time.

Again, there are many reviews for this pen, it’s a fairly old pen (new to me), so I’m not going to spend a lot of text going over measurements etc. I want to give you my personal thoughts.

In this review, I’ll go over my favourite features of this pen and what I don’t like. I’ll picture some writing samples with different inks, to give you a feel for how it handles various types of ink. In summary, I’ll discuss why this pen is in my collection and whether this pen is truly worthy of being a GP’s pen!

Pros

There is a lot here to like. The pen is about 123mm long and posted it’s 155mm. It’s weighty too. I prefer heavier, bigger pens and whilst this isn’t a giant it’s very comfortable in medium sized hands.

Immediately, everyone notes the wood. Its a hexagonal real piece of wood. I don’t have any other wooden pens yet but this is already setting the bar high. It feels warm, emanating earthy vibes as you use it whilst contrasting nicely with the chrome finish metal. It’s a little rough textured, which at first thought should have been smoothed out, but given the section is so small it helps with grip whilst resting against my hand.

I really like the snap cap. This makes for easy use on a busy day. I can cap and uncap with one hand and I have to say it’s one of the best clips I’ve got. It’s not ripping my shirt. It just slides beautifully into my pocket, hanging easily off the fabric. No fuss.

The nib is utterly exquisite! You know how FP people are constantly arguing about steel Vs Gold nibs? This is one of those situations where steel is as good as gold. The EF nib I have is smooth! It doesn’t catch/scratch paper, even crappy copy paper. It writes beautifully and doesn’t get clogged with shimmer! I accidently put Diamine Winter Miracle into it — no problems (very few ink properties showed but that’s not my point here — see below)!

The design on the nib is really cool too, simple yet persuasive! Modern and goes well with the contemporary look afforded by the mixed materials of the pen. Similarly, the hexagonal pattern means there’s no mistaking nib/clip alignments — either capped or posted. None of this “get the right thread entry” so nib and clip align stuff!

upside down logo

Cons

The grip section is the biggest issue. Its very short. Making it feel strange and harder to hold. I’m forever, either gripping the wooden barrel or landing on the nib itself. I’m very close to the page as I write. The grip section is concave so fingers don’t move too much whilst writing, but I do worry about slipping.

When posting, the heavy metal cap backweights the pen. It’s fine to use unposted, but for longer writing sessions the weight of the pen saves energy. Posting adds the weight however, backweights it too much. You have to hold your grip so the pen is more vertical in this case.

The barrel does take about a million turns to unscrew from the section. Ink cartridges don’t sit deep or secure in the section and every time I take out or put in cartridges, I hope it doesn’t pop out.

The untreated wood will stain like crazy too! This is the main reason I baby this pen. I’m careful to use it with clean hands, not have wet ink laying about, to be clean when putting in or taking out cartridges and never dip the pen in an ink bottle!

Lastly, despite the nib being so wonderful to write with, I just wish it was bigger! With the nib section and nib being so small, I just feel like it was wasted opportunity for almost having the perfect pen. Bigger nib and section and hands down this pen would have been basically perfection.

The smallest issue I have with this pen is that the logo on the cap is upside down (to me). To me the correct way up should have the clip underlining the Faber Castel writing on the cap finial.

writing samples

Left: 90gsm copy paper. Right: Clairefontaine 90gsm paper.
Left: 90gsm copy paper. Right: Clairefontaine 90gsm paper.

I really like how this pen lays down ink. It’s very smooth, despite the incredibly stiff steel nib. Being that it’s an EF there’s almost no ink properties that shine through. Barely any shimmer from Diamine Firefly is appreciable.

The line width is consistent, reverse writing is smooth too and there’s no dramas with fast writing/signing.

Why is this pen in my collection?

It looks great. Its such a unique design with the chrome polished metal and untreated wood. For my style of everyday use at a desk, it’s quick to cap/uncap, even if I’m up and about it’s easy to throw in a shirt pocket or hang from my buttons and the clip can handle it.

It’s my only wooden pen and so rounds out my collection nicely. It’ll be the inspiration for me acquire more wooden pens.

Is this a pen fit for a GP?

Yes, most certainly. If you are office based and like a smart pen on your desk then, yes. It’s unique in design, it’s precise and bold.

It’s a smooth writer and being an EF a cartridge fill lasts a long time!

It’s flaws, such as the untreated/easily stained wood issue is a draw back in a hospital setting but not so much an issue for me. While the small nib + section is not ideal, this is just a taste issue, functionally it is wonderful and very fit for GP use.

Overall, I would recommend this pen. Yet again, another great ice-breaker for new patients coming in too.

Thanks so much for reading and remember no matter who you are, “first, do no harm.”

--

--

--

An Australian GP with a love for fountain pens, writing, gaming and gardening, throwing in an occasional rant along the way!

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Design Thinking through the Writing Process

This article will make you stop writing generic headlines

How I finally dared to write my first Medium post and how you can too

Liam Ireland: A Kind Person And A Great Writer

Man with coat and hat, looking outside the window

How You Can Help Someone Overcome Failure

What I appreciate in the world

Own your handwriting!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
GP_Gen

GP_Gen

An Australian GP with a love for fountain pens, writing, gaming and gardening, throwing in an occasional rant along the way!

More from Medium

Seeding stem cells into the human brain may cure Parkinson’s disease

Whoever vs. Whatever

Three Days at W.A.S.D.: Or Why Indie Ambition Reigns Supreme

John P. Atkinson, MD