Mark Two: A Minimal and Durable Pocket Pen

Created by Dan Provost & Tom Gerhardt

Mark Two is a custom machined, all-metal pocket pen small enough to take with you, but extends to a full length when in use.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Monthly Update
about 1 month ago – Thu, May 06, 2021 at 10:48:32 PM

Hey Folks, 

We wish every update could be good news, but unfortunately we’ve hit a bit of a snag. The TL;DR version is some parts need to be remade, which will set us back about 30 days. Keep reading below for all the gritty details. The good news is, aside from the errors below, the parts themselves are of fantastic quality and we are super happy with them. 

So, as mentioned in the previous update, the manufacturer was sending us 50 sample pens for final approval. As they were doing the final polishing step, they noticed some subtle corrosion (rust) on the body parts. Stainless steel obviously shouldn’t do that, so they investigated by getting the steel chemically analyzed. They found that the 400 series stainless steel had a lower than specified nickel content, which lead to the corrosion. This was an error on the part of the steel supplier, and unfortunately the only correction is to get the correct steel and remake the parts. :( One thing to note, this rust issue was only occurring in the body parts, since it is a different grade of steel than the sleeve (it needs to be magnetic). 

We had them send all the sample pens anyway, so we could still inspect all of the tolerances, dimensions, polishing, etc. It was at this point that we caught a couple errors. On the interior of the sleeve part, there is a very subtle slope—it is what allows the pen body to be posted. Unfortunately, they missed this feature, so there is a literal stair step instead of a slope, so the pen does not stay posted. Thankfully, they can do a simple operation to fix the parts instead of remaking them. 

The second error had to do with the end, or “tip”, of the sleeve that holds the magnet. As mentioned in a previous update, we made the magnet larger to have a stronger hold on the pen, but they must have accidentally referred to a previous drawing, and the hole for the magnet is too small. So those parts need to be remade. 

As gutting as these errors have been, our manufacturers have taken full responsibility and are working hard to fix things. The good news is, as mentioned, the pens themselves are fantastic. We couldn’t be happier with them, aside from, you know, the mistakes. The dimensions, tolerances, and polishing are all great. It’s worth noting also that the clip and custom magnet are good and do not need to be remade. 

Our manufacturer is saying we will have completed parts in about 30 days, and we’re confident they’ll get there. We have a long standing relationship with them, and they have shown they can make these parts properly, so we just need to cross the T’s and dot the I’s.

In the meantime, we sent the sample parts we received to our Cerakote applicator so they can get the process figured out and ready to go as soon as we have new parts. We also received all of the ink refills from Schmidt, and our custom packaging, so everything is just waiting for pens to arrive.

So what does this mean for the schedule going forward? We are expecting to have new samples of the fixed sleeve parts and body parts this week. Once we approve those, they will expedite the production of the parts that need to be remade. We are going to prioritize the sleeve parts, because they need to have the Cerakote applied, but the body parts should follow soon after.

We know this isn’t the most fun update to read, but having received these samples, we think you all are really going to love your Mark Twos. Just a little bit longer of a wait, unfortunately, but we thank you all for your patience. It wouldn’t be a Kickstarter project without an unexpected hiccup! 

If you want to hear us chat in a little more detail about this update, check out the latest episode of our podcast. 

Thanks again. Until next time! 

Tom & Dan

All of the packaging, patiently waiting.
“Deli wrap” waiting to hug the Mark Two tight.
Lots of ink that can’t wait to hop inside of the Mark Two and fulfill their life’s purpose.

3 months ago – Thu, Apr 01, 2021 at 08:26:33 PM

Hello Friends,

That’s right, time for another Mark Two production update! Here is the latest:

  • All of the pen parts have been machined and are just waiting to be polished. Our manufacturers sent us final polish samples and they look great! They are now going to do a larger sample batch of the polishing to make sure everything is correct and that the parts arrive clean and packaged correctly. If that all goes well they will polish and send everything.
  • All of the custom magnets are completed as well.
  • All of the packaging is either on the way to us or finished and about to be shipped to us.
  • The ink refills have been ordered and will be shipped to us soon.

Next steps:

  • After we receive the set of polished samples (they are sending 50) we will check them to make sure everything is correct. If they are, we will send some to our Cerakote and PVD applicators so we can finalize the processes for coating the parts.
  • We expect to receive all of the production parts by the end of April. It will take time to get the sleeves Cerakoted and the bodies PVD’d, but our estimate to begin shipping in May still seems on target.

As for your part, it’s time to fill out the Backerkit survey! This is how we get your shipping info, and you’ll have a chance to add on any extra ink, pens, notebooks, or any other products we make. Keep in mind this is the last opportunity to get a Mark Two at Kickstarter prices, if you wanted to add one for a friend. We have already sent the survey to a small group of people just to make sure things are working, but we will be sending it to everyone over the next couple days. The subject line will say: Response Needed -- Get your reward for Mark Two: A Minimal and Durable Pocket Pen. So be on the lookout for that, and if you don’t receive the email by Monday, let us know.

That’s all for now! Hopefully the next time we email, we will have received all of the parts and begun assembly!

Until next time,

Tom & Dan

Mark Two body (without the tip)
Mark Two sleeve (without the top piece)
The top part of the sleeve. This is a pretty complex part, it holds the magnet and is where the clip attaches.

Monthly Update
4 months ago – Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 10:16:27 PM

Hello Friends,

You guessed it, time for our monthly Mark Two update. We survived the winter storm here in Austin last week; we were without power and water for several days but are on the other side of that, thankfully.

Here is the latest:

  • It was Lunar New Year in China, a national holiday that essentially shuts down factories for a period of weeks. We were hopeful we would get at least some parts produced before the holiday break, but they weren’t able to do that. However, they are ramping back up and estimate the sleeve and clip parts will be completed by mid March, and the magnet and body pieces will be completed by the end of March.
  • We asked them to do the sleeve and clip parts first so we could work on getting those Cerakoted here in Texas while we wait for the remaining parts.
  • The packaging is coming along, and we will probably be submitted the art for that next week. It’s simple, but nice, we think!
  • We will probably send out the Backerkit survey sometime next month, which will give you a chance to enter your shipping information, designate your color choice, and order any extra pens at Kickstarter prices, or any other add-ons.
  • Regarding timeline, our original estimate was April, but given the Lunar New Year delay, we will likely start shipping in May (and it will take a few weeks to get every order shipped out, as we’re hand assembling, packaging, and shipping them). We appreciate your patience!

That’s it for now, we hope everyone is staying safe and warm. We’ll be back next month, hopefully reporting on receiving the first shipment of parts!

Until next time,

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
5 months ago – Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 09:47:39 PM

Hello Friends, 

That’s right, time again for a monthly Mark Two update! Here’s the latest: 

  • As mentioned in the last update, the manufacturer started production, and we have received the first set of production samples from them. 
  • We also mentioned in the last update we were making the magnet bigger so it could have a stronger hold. We received that with the production sample and it is MUCH better, we are glad we made that change.
  • The fit and finish is almost there, we just have a few issues we need to remind them to look for during quality control. At this point they are making the metal parts correctly, and the dimensions are correct, but we're basically just building a list of quality control issues to check. It all comes down to surface finishes and polishing with these parts.
  • We have not yet received a production sample of the clip, but the samples have been finished and are being sent to us. We will check the "tempering" process to make sure the clip is springy enough and doesn't loose its shape.
  • The next step is to approve a final “master” or “golden” production sample that will be used as a reference for mass production. They are working on that now. 
  • We are about to place an order for the ink refills, but we will likely send out the Backerkit survey first so we can get a sense of how many folks wanted to add-on extra refills to their order. So, expect that survey in the coming weeks. 

That’s it for now! Really happy with how things are progressing. We also chatted about Mark Two progress (among other things) on the latest episode of our podcast.

Hope everyone is staying safe and sane. Until next time, 

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
6 months ago – Wed, Dec 09, 2020 at 03:27:04 PM

Hello Friends, 

You guessed it, time again for a monthly update on Mark Two progess! Here’s the latest: 

  • As per the previous update, our manufacturer improved the polishing process to hide the seam on the pen body. It looks great! 
  • Also in the previous update, aside from making the magnet stronger (N52), we are also going to make the magnet slightly larger to increase the magnetic hold on the pen when it is in the sleeve. 
  • We told the manufacturers to start production! We will still review samples as they go through the run, and make tweaks or corrections as they come up, but this is a big step. We are full steam ahead.
  • We have been working on a simplified packaging design. Originally we thought of doing something with molded pulp, but we have come across something that is even simpler / less wasteful. More to share later! 
Polished body.
Bigger magnet (in light blue).

That’s it for now. We hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday break, and we’ll speak again next year!

Until next time,

Tom & Dan