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:

3 days ago – Sun, Sep 19, 2021 at 07:36:57 AM

Greetings Patient Backers! 

It’s been a while. Our manufacturers took about twice as long as they estimated for the remade parts (of course), but at long last, some good news: the machined parts are complete! We have received a few parts from the production run, and they are fantastic. Everything is correct, all errors have been fixed, and the polishing is awesome. We couldn’t be happier. So, where do we go from here?

  • The manufacturers need to finish cleaning and packaging all of the parts. This should take less than a week. We are very particular about how clean the parts are when we receive them, to have one less thing to deal with once we get them (sometimes parts will have oil or other residue from the manufacturing process, which isn’t a problem in some cases, but we definitely don’t want that).
  • After that, the parts will be shipped to us. We are shipping by air, at great expense, to speed things up. There might be some delay getting the parts onto a plane, as international freight is very backed up right now. Just the state of the world at the moment, nothing we can do about that unfortunately. But once in transit it should only be a few days of shipping time.
  • Once the parts arrive, we will immediately check them to verify everything is good, then send all of the sleeves and clips to our Cerakote guy in Dallas to have them all coated with black Cerakote. Additionally, about half of the bodies will be sent to the PVD place to receive the black PVD coating. The other half will remain raw polished steel.
  • While the parts are being coated (it should take about 4 weeks), we can keep ourselves busy by assembling all of uncoated bodies, which basically means adding an o-ring to the cone piece, inserting the ink refill and spring, and screwing the two parts together.
  • When the rest of the parts arrive back from the Cerakote and PVD places, we can start assembly, packaging, and shipping!

Whew. It feels good to be on the other side of the manufacturing part of this process. 

In other news, we just charged the credit cards for any add-ons you might have added to your order on Backerkit. So if you saw a charge or got an email from Backerkit, that’s what it was. We will also be locking addresses soon, so if you need to change or verify yours you can do so here:

Lastly, we plan on sharing A LOT of assembly action on our Instagram, and perhaps even trying some live streams, so if that interests you, you can follow us there. 

Thanks again for your continued patience. It feels really good knowing that you all trust us and are allowing us the time to get it right. We think you’ll be rewarded with a truly awesome pen. 

Until next time! 

Tom & Dan

Production parts!
Mark Two, assembled.

3 months ago – Fri, Jul 02, 2021 at 01:18:38 AM

Hey Folks,

Hope everyone is doing well. We had hoped to send this update earlier, but we wanted to make sure all the ducks were in a row before we could finally say: production has started! Whew. That took longer than we would have liked, basically because we had to have a couple more rounds of samples made. We thought the sample we were receiving last month would be the final one, but unfortunately there were still some minor errors that needed to be fixed on the remade parts. So, here is what the current timeline is looking like:

  • End of July / Early August: Receive all production parts.
  • August: Have the parts Cerakoted and PVD coated.
  • End of August: Begin assembly and packaging.
  • September: Ship pens!

Of course, this timeline can shift, but we feel at the moment the above is pretty realistic.

In the time we’ve been waiting for updated samples, we made several custom tools to make assembly go quicker. Check 'em out:

All the tools we've made for assembly.
  • Magnet Setter: For placing the magnet deep down into the bottom of the sleeve in the correct orientation.
  • Screw Alignment Jig: For aligning the clip onto the sleeve and holding it place so we can screw it on. 
  • Custom Screwdriver: An extra long screwdriver for screwing the clip on deep into the sleeve. 
  • Titanium Press Head: For press fitting the magnet into place. It's titanium because it needed to be a hard, non-magnetic material.
  • Press Jig: For holding the sleeve upright during the press fit operation. 

We are going to be locking surveys in Backerkit and charging credit cards (if you had add-ons) soon, so if you haven’t done that yet or need to make adjustments, you can do so here:

We’ve mentioned this before, but we are going to be sharing a ton of assembly / packaging stuff over on our Instagram, so if you are interested in seeing all of that behind the scenes stuff, follow along there!

Thanks for sticking with us through all of this. Delays are obviously not fun, but it feels good to finally be in production. We can’t wait to get this pen to you.

Until next time!

Tom & Dan

Monthly Update
5 months 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.

6 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
7 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