Introduction to Pen Spinning

From Fen Spinner Wiki

Welcome to Pen Spinning!

This hobby is as rewarding as it is time-consuming, but this guide aims to help you get your footing and save you some effort.

What to spin

Experienced spinners typically spin Pen Mods, modified objects which are usually made from pen parts. They tend to be longer and heavier than regular pens and pencils, with better weight distribution and grips for performing wipers.

Pen mods are not required to start pen spinning. An unsharpened pencil or regular pen (the longer the better) can be used early on.

Regular pens and pencils

Pentel RSVP Fine black

You'll want a pen with a rounded barrel, with a decent length and weight. Small retractable pens like a Pilot G2 are usually too short, while cheap pens like a Bic Crystal are hexagonal, light and difficult to spin.

The best common pens you can find for spinning are:

For pencils, you want an unsharpened round pencil, usually without an Eraser. If you have pencils with erasers, you can remove the eraser from one and place it onto the front of another to make a Double Eraser Mod.

DIY Basic pen mods

A Bictory with grips

If you want a better start, you can make a pen mod to start with. The most common basic mods are the Bictory, RSVP CX and the Paper Mod. The Paper Mod notably handles a lot better than the previous two mods and is surprisingly durable, with the obvious downside that it's made of paper.

You can also devise a pen mod yourself based on some simple rules. You want the pen mod to be at least 17cm long, it should be balanced close towards the center of the barrel, and the weight should be focused on the ends. Common ways to add weight include taping pen tips, screws, ball bearings and small bolts to the ends of the pen. Lastly, you'll probably want grips on the ends to help with wipers, these can be pulled off of many pens, particularly gel pens, and pushed onto your mod.

The simplest way to make any pen mod yourself is to find two identical markers with caps and put a cap on each side. This works for a surprising amount of pens and provides a good base to add weight and grips on the ends. If the caps are insecure you can put some tape under them to squeeze them on tighter.

Factory-made mods

Nope Elements

Most factory mods are of low quality and spin poorly. You'll commonly find screwed in tips and backplugs which are susceptible to rattling, hard grips that decay quickly and bad weight distribution.

There are only a few exceptions to this:

  • Nope Element and Nope Field are excellent, pro-quality pens that you can buy for low prices. The Element tends to break in the middle section if abused too much.
  • SpinPros and SpinSticks are decent, if simple.
  • Certain FingerDance "ZW" pens are fairly good for their price.

Most factory pens you'll find are made by Zhigao. Zhigao only manufactures one high quality pen, the Zhigao Kay Limited Edition, while the rest are plagued with the issues previously described. They're cheap and marketed towards children in China for only $1-2, it's strongly recommended not to buy them.

Another common pen type is a cheap "stick with grips and tips" that many no-name Chinese manufacturers make. Usually they are too heavy, the grips are cheap pipe and the barrels are of an inferior plastic that may be too center heavy.

If you buy a factory mod with rattling issues, you can try to fix it using teflon tape. Wrapping it around the screw threads before screwing the parts back in prevents the screws coming loose and prevents unpleasant rattling when spinning.

Regular pen mods

The Menowa* VGG or the Ivan Mod are decent choices for beginners, due to their length and weight being significant, but not overwhelming compared to pens further up the scale. In addition, they are also some of the cheapest and simplest mods that can be bought, with high durability. They are sometimes used in tournaments by pro spinners, and are good for a variety of spinning styles. The main difference between the two mods is in looks, they handle very similarly, with the Ivan mod being cheaper to make.

Historically beginners were recommended lighter mods on a progressive scale towards longer and heavier mods as they became more experienced. This has been largely rejected by the community as there's no evidence for lighter mods helping to build control or learn tricks better. In fact, buying a very light or short mod can make it incredibly difficult to learn new tricks and demotivate newer spinners. Some videos are still up that recommend lighter mods like the RSVP MX and Metallic Comssa.

DON'T BUY A WATERFALL. Or a flying panda for that matter. These two mods are short, have poor weight distribution and are very expensive for what they give you. The reynolds caps are also prone to brittle fractures, causing the signo tips to come free. You are almost always better off getting an Ivan Mod or, if you really can't stand the extra weight, a Hash Comssa. Both of these options are cheaper, more durable and handle much better.

If you have a larger budget, you can buy what's known as a 'meta mod': pen mods that are considered top of their class. Some examples include:

  • i.suk Emboss (In particular, the airfit tipped V3 variant) - $15-20
    • 24.9cm - 24g
    • The decent go-to for most people, handles power better than the genuine variant that has lighter tips, but a little more force will be needed for linkages. It's a strong step up from spinning an Ivan Mod.
  • Paru Bullet Mod - $20-25
    • 22.5cm - 40g
    • Extremely heavy and not super long, preferred by some power spinners due to the ridiculous momentum of having 7.62mm NATO bullets in the ends. Feels like you're spinning a lead stick because you literally are, takes some getting used to if you want to do linkages and counters with it.
  • Titangear - $30-50
    • 27cm - 29g (?)
    • Easily dwarfs the above two mods, and by far the most expensive. The momentum is huge, it's almost impossible to fail FL tricks with the absurd length and it doesn't feel like you're swinging a brick around like the Paru Bullet.

These mods are frankly overkill for beginners, but there's no negative downside to buying one other than the cost.

Learn beginner tricks

Beginners should start with basic tricks including (but not limited to) the four fundamental tricks like the thumbaround, sonic, charge and fingerpass. There are also similar tricks like the infinity and figure 8 that can be learnt without prerequisites.

Here's a list of tricks that can be learnt without prerequisites of various difficulties:

The pages of these tricks on this wiki provide information and video tutorials on how to perform them. Alternatively, you can seek tutorials from the following sources:

Pick up the pen

Learning tricks in this hobby is not as difficult as it might seem, but a lot of people are put off by not having any success in only a few minutes. You're going to drop your pen on the floor and have to pick it up for a couple of hours to learn anything above a basic trick, and frustration at this is what causes most people to give up. Instead, be aware of what you're going to have to do in advance, and make plans so that you don't get bored or demotivated.

Staring at a pen dropping for an hour can be very demotivating, but attempting it for a couple of hours while watching a movie or listening to an audiobook takes the stress out.

Get involved with the community

If you speak English (which you probably do if you're reading this wiki), the community has split into a series of separate groups in the Modern International Community. One of these groups is Fen Spinner, who wrote this article and the wiki you're reading right now.

Most communities are willing to help new spinners, or look over your filmed clips, but the attitudes can be very different. The Workshop is considered a more serious server, but you're likely to get advice from other beginners, who might not even understand your question. Fen Spinner is a lot less serious, but has an active 'core' membership of experienced competitive spinners who handle questions and advice.

Another key difference is how soft the advice you'll get is. If you post on the r/penspinning subreddit, many beginners or non-spinners will likely praise you, no matter what level you're at. In The Workshop, you'll sometimes get tips for improvement that may or may not actually be relevant to the issues you're having. Whereas in Fen Spinner, your spinning will be torn apart and every issue laid bare for the vultures to pick at.

If you have thick skin, it's clear where your spinning will improve the most at, but it's up to you.

How to ask questions

First, make sure that you've done everything possible to avoid having to ask the question in the first place:

  1. If there's a tutorial for what you're doing, watch all of it and follow it to the letter as best as you can.
  2. If it doesn't work, try a different tutorial for what you're attempting (if it's available), or if there is none, try watching it in slow-motion.
  3. Film a clip of you doing it, and then watch it in slow-motion to try and compare what you've done wrong versus what you're trying to achieve.
  4. Failing that, write out your question as best as you can and ask it to a rubber duck or other inanimate object (yes, we're serious).
  5. Make sure you've been trying to do it for at least a couple of hours.

If none of these steps help you come to the conclusion of what you're struggling with, then take the clip you've filmed plus the question you asked your favorite rubber ducky, and post them both in the community of your choice. If you want to be extra helpful, be sure to include any relevant information like what you have tried so far and what similar things you can already do similar to what you're trying to achieve.