Two Stub Nib Pens That Were Almost Created Equal08/07/2015
Recently, a TWSBI Diamond 580 1.1 Stub arrived to join my wide nib collection. The other stock nib model I’ve purchased in the past year is the Conklin Duragraph 1.1 Stub. How do they compare?
Although the pens look very different, both retail for $55 and discounts can be found on the Duragraph. They are the same length capped though the TWSBI weighs slightly more. Uncapped, the TWSBI is longer. Neither needs posting and both are well balanced without the cap. Build quality is good for both and better than expected for the price. Either should last a very long time.
Essentially the pens are comparable except for the filling mechanism. The 580 is a piston filler while the Duragraph is a cartridge/converter filler. The latter screws in which is uncommon and will help keep the converter properly seated. However, the piston does hold more ink – not a bad thing for a wide nib pen.
The nibs on both models are sold as 1.1mm stubs. Neither has tipping material and the nibs are formed from steel. Both models are smooth though the TWSBI has a very modest amount of feedback. The stealth nib on the amber Duragraph has even less feedback. Perhaps that comes from the black coating, but it is minimal and should be irrelevant to most any user. The uncoated steel Duragraph nib has virtually no feedback if that is your preference.
The corners of the Duragraph are more rounded than the 580 and it has a stronger ink flow. Because the nib is a true stub, it can tolerate some rotation without reducing that flow. Lines do not suffer from missing areas even when writing rapidly. The line quality in the images suffered slightly due to the pen needing a refill – not from poor flow. For some combinations of ink and paper, the flow may be too strong to dry in a reasonable amount of time. If you like a juicy nib, this one will do nicely.
The 580 nib has sharper corners and produces a slightly more crisp line. Consequently, the nib has a smaller sweet spot and does not tolerate rotation to the same degree that the Duragraph does. In other words, to achieve consistent lines, the nib needs to be more dead-on. It has less flow than the Duragraph, but that means more inks and papers should work well together. It isn’t lacking flow – it’s just not as wet as the Duragraph. The line is wider by approximately 0.25mm. For someone new to stub nibs or for someone who applies too much pressure, this nib might dig into the paper, something easily resolved by using a lighter touch.
I was asked which is the better pen. It isn’t that one is better, but they are different. In the hand, the TWSBI feels chunkier or maybe it is more solid. The Duragraph looks more traditional and has a larger nib. The shape of the grip fits my hand very well which makes it suitable for many hours of use. When writing for my own purposes, the cracked ice Duragraph does the job admirably. It glides across the paper and has become my standard against which all other stock stubs are measured. When writing correspondence with a bit of italic flair, the TWSBI would be the one. My daughter prefers my writing with the amber Duragraph and Noodler’s Antietam. Perhaps her artist’s eye sees something I don’t. However, the images show little difference. If you want to try out a stub, either will do.
Time for a caveat. The two Duragraphs arrived ready for work. The 580 had an issue that took a day on FPN to sort and resolve. Since TWSBI has had some trouble in the past with pen parts breaking, I was reluctant to tinker with it. But with suggestions from FPNers, I was able to make the pen work without causing damage. The bottom line with a TWSBI is don’t over-tighten it as cracks may develop. Customer service is good about making things right, but it’s better to proceed with caution and never need a repair or a replacement part.
Remember that nib grinding, whether by machine or by hand, is a delicate undertaking. The most minute variation can turn a nib into a stinker. Consider that should your experience with these pens differ from mine. Also, read the seller’s return policy in case you get a damaged pen. I ran into a very restrictive one recently and was put off by it for future pen purchases.
If these pens appeal to you, the Duragraphs were purchased from Pen Chalet and the TWSBI was purchased from Jet Pens though a number of retailers stock them. If your order doesn’t meet the minimum to qualify for free shipping, add an ink that shades well and you’ll be good to go.
Oh, if you wondered about the paper, that’s a Midori Traveler’s Notebook Grid Insert #002 sent by Jet Pens for an upcoming paper review. The Celtic i-clips holding the pages open were purchased at Amazon.