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Would a Noodler's Ahab by any other name smell as sweet?
a pen with smellitude
This is the Ahab, by Noodler’s. If you have been in the hobby for more than a month you’ve certainly heard of Noodler’s inks, and this pen is made by the same company.
If you an experienced hobbyist, you will know the Ahab as a pen that you buy because you want to get into modifying a pen and maybe flex-nib writing.
Me, on the other hand: I picked the Ahab up at a pen show a couple of years ago because I will get pretty much anything with a maritime theme.
To clarify, I love the sea—but only from a distance because that’s where the monsters live.1 I lived a block from the Pacific for about a year and a half and, although I walked my dog on the beach every day, I actually went into the ocean zero times.
I mean, facts:
We know more about space than the ocean, so we can’t say for sure that the ocean isn’t mostly blood2
People think sea levels are rising due to global warming, but actually it’s because the sea knows the human body is 80% water and it won’t stop coming until it reclaims its rightful property
No one knows whatever happened with Atlantis and if they’re all still down there they’re probably pretty mad
Why would there be so many movies about sharks attacking people if that’s not what happens every time you go in the ocean just think about it
And so, per this fascination, I picked up an Ahab.
I mean, check it out! The clip is a whale tail!
The Ahab comes with many features. For example, it has a filling system that comes with instructions that I lost3 but, like, there is a tube and if you like tinkering you will probably love it because you can take the whole thing apart.
It also has a flex nib. I think this is probably what got me initially interested in it.
And best of all: it smells. It answers the key pen design question “but what if it smelled?” with a resounding “it does.”
It is impossible to read about this pen without its smellitude being mentioned. Here is a representative result from the first page of results for “noodlers ahab smell.”
Note that the reddit post in the above picture is from 7 years ago.
That is, it’s not like the first batch of Ahabs came out and everyone was like whoa they smell and then Noodler’s fixed it—they are supposed to smell this way because that’s how Noodler’s likes to make them, and you can like that or not.
There is something very punk rock about that. Good for you, Noodler’s: stay cool.
Now, it seems to me that the consensus is that the Ahab smells (1) like a toolbox and (2) unpleasant.
The first part seems objectively true: it smells like the smelly sort of toolbox, which is a result of the plant-based resin used smelling a lot like the compounds they use in tool handles. This resin is pretty pleasant to the touch, but it does give off a smell.
The second part is a matter of preference; for me, the smell prompts fond memories of working on projects around the house. I kinda like it.
For others, not so much:
I have to admit this generates some anxiety-provoking questions for me. Is that what my hand tools smell like? How does that not bother me? What other things smell fine to me but repulsive to others? Am I a walking stink factory without knowing it?
I have no answers. What I can tell you, though, is this. BENU has a new Talisman that supposedly smells like lavender, and when you hear that you probably wonder “really? And if so, how long would that smell last?”
Well, if it works like the Ahab, at least two years. Of course, I haven’t made an effort to get rid of it because I don’t mind it; it’s mostly hung out in a case. I’m sure if you left it to sit on a counter it would have dissipated by now; this guy on the Goulet review site claims to have gotten rid of it in a few days with one weird trick.
Should you get this pen? On the one hand, it’s pretty inexpensive, it’s solidly made, the resin feels nice, it comes in cool colors, it has a lot of parts you can mess around with, and it has a flex nib.
On the other hand, maybe the smell will trigger your gag reflex? So, unless you know you like the smell of old tools, maybe try this one out out at a shop or pen show first.
yes this is technically another shark-adjacent post but i had surgery and this one was already written and also this is a free hobby blog GET OFF MY BACK but seriously please get off my back i’m not allowed to lift heavy stuff for a while
Convenient Facts Monthly, July 2023 issue
If there is one thing I am good at, it’s immediately throwing away instructions