Sketching With The Pilot Kakuno

For the past couple years, my sketching tools of choice have been the Platinum 3776 and a Pilot/Namiki Falcon.  Both are excellent sketching pens but a bit on the pricey side.  I’m a pen nerd so such expense was “justified” simply cuz I wanted one but the reality is that one doesn’t have to spend a lot of money on a fountain pen to get good results.

Evidence for this comes in how many sing the praises of the Platinum Preppy that may not win any beauty contests but it only costs $4 and works really well.  I remember a time when everyone recommended a Lamy Safari to newcomers because it was the only game in town when it came to inexpensive pens but since then we’ve seen the release of the Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI Eco, Platinum Plaisir among others.  Each of these is less expensive and at least the equal to the Safari so choices abound.

I want to talk about the Pilot Kakuno, specifically about the recent release of the completely transparent version, though it comes in a couple of colors as well.  There were two things that caused me to investigate this pen.   I love transparent pens because, as a street sketcher, it’s nice to be able to quickly check the amount of ink in a pen before I go out the door.

Mostly, however, this pen interested me because it was from Pilot and I love Pilot steel nibs.  They are smooth line makers, even when you use fine nibs like I do.  Second, they can typically provide lines that are very fine or a couple times that width with a little bit of pressure.   The low price point ($14) made it easy for me to scratch my curiosity itch and so I ordered a fine nib version of the pen.

I loved it from the start.  This pen may be the lightest pen I’ve used and it fits my hand beautifully when posted.  Like all of the dozen or so Pilot pens I own, this one works flawlessly with the DeAtramentis or Platinum pigmented inks I feed my sketching pens.  I was a happy camper but I was about to get happier.

I decided to order a medium nib version because I had a medium nib Metropolitan that I enjoyed a lot for quick-sketching.  The reason is that the medium nibs provide width variation from a Micron 01 with light pressure to a Micron 03 with a bit of pressure.  In addition to that, if you flip the pen upside down you can get hairline lines from the same nib.  Since I’ve received this pen I’ve used almost nothing else.

I got happier still when I solved the one problem I had with the Kakuno.  It has no clip and I need a clip on my pens.  Happiness came, however, when I discovered that the inexpensive clip sold by Kaweco for their pens fits beautifully on the Kakuno cap.  I immediately ordered a silver one for my fine nib pen and a gold one for my medium pen.  I now have a color-coded set of these pens and I’m thrilled.

5 Responses to “Sketching With The Pilot Kakuno”

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  1. katie says:

    Larry this is such nice information! I have a Lamy Safari and a Lamy joy, and both have been troublesome for me. I’m forever having to shake the ink down, or screw the feed, as they don’t flow nicely. I have cleaned and cleaned them to try to fix the flow problem. Tried different nib sizes from ef to calligraphy, no difference. It really irks me, since so many others use and recommend them without problem. Not so for me! Perhaps I don’t use them daily, and this is why they clog up for me (d’atrementis black is all I use in them). I’m interested in trying these Pilots you refer to. Though I hate to throw more money into pens, as my experience has been far from smooth. I have a Pilot of some sort somewhere in a drawer… can’t remember which one, I’ll have to dig it up and see if I get better results. Thanks for the detailed review!

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve had trouble with your Lamys. I’ve read occasional reports such as yours but have always dismissed them since so many people seem to like their Safaris. I own 3 Lamys and they’ve always worked flawlessly for me but I really don’t like the triangular grip for drawing and so don’t use them much.

      While using a pen regularly certainly helps, the notion that they have to be used daily is an exaggeration. I just grabbed three pens I’ve had laying around that haven’t been used in weeks. My Platinum Plaisir is full of Platinum Carbon Black and it’s been weeks since I last used it. It wrote immediately. Same report for a Platinum Carbon pen which has been sitting around for even longer. Then I tried a Kaweco Al-Sport that’s been sitting on a shelf waiting for me to clean it…for months. It still writes.

      It’s so hard to trouble-shoot a pen from a distance but let me ask you a few questions.

      1) Do you live in a hot/dry climate? If so, the possibility of ink evaporation, nibs drying out, etc. will be more of a problem for you. I don’t live in a warm place but our humidities tend to be on the mid/ to high side.

      2) You mentioned having to shake the ink or screw the feed. Is your problem that the ink ends up at the wrong end of the converter, leaving the back of the feed mechanism dry? Or is the problem that the nib is drying out? If the former, try storing the pen cap down. That’s probably very inconvenient (and should be unnecessary but it might tell you something about the problem.

      3) Lastly, if you pick up the pen every day, make a couple lines with it, and put it back down, will it still be writing at the end of a week? Again, very inconvenient but it might say something about the problem.

      I sure can’t say whether Pilot or Platinum pens will solve your problems but I’ve found them to seal very well, minimizing ink evaporation which can be a problem for some pens. If you want to try a different pen without much investment, try a Platinum Preppy and a box of Platinum Carbon Black cartridges. The total cost will be less than $10 and it will work for you. The only weaknesses for the Preppy is that they’re not the prettiest pen and, after a while, their snap-on caps fatigue and may break.

      Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this more at larry@larrydmarshall.com

  2. Tina Koyama says:

    I love my Kakuno, too! Does yours have a smiling nib? Hard not to love a happy pen!

  3. agnes says:

    Thanks for he infrmation !

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