Sometimes, the nib of the pen seems rough, and it sort of doesn't feel right. The writing is rough and ink flow isn't quite good.

How to make it so that the ink flows elegantly and the nib writes smoothly?

The pen in point resembles the below pic

enter image description here

By rough, I mean that the "nib" as in the part which is in contact with the paper(The paper isn't rough tho) is kinda rough.

What I've tried already

  1. Writing on with the hope of making it smoother.
  2. Soaking the pen's nib in the ink.
  3. Also on advise of my friend, I've tried writing with the pen on a mirror(Weird?)
  • Amit, could you add more detail as to what you mean by "the nib of the pen seems rough"? It seems more like the surface you're writing on than anything else as it is currently written – Zach Saucier Dec 26 '14 at 15:39
  • @ZachSaucier hoping my edit helps – Amit Joki Dec 26 '14 at 15:44
  • 2
    I'm not sure if this is a common practice, but you could try rubbing it on a honing stone, or on a very high grit wet/dry sandpaper (1000 grit or higher) to remove the sharp edge. – Jason Hutchinson Dec 26 '14 at 18:13
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I find that the best way to keep a fountain pen writing well is to do periodic maintenance. In this case what I mean is that the nib should be completely disassembled (especially if it has any wooden parts in it) and then the metal portion (or non-porous potions if it does not disassemble completely) should be soaked in hot water with a touch of vinegar in it. You will be amazed at how much caked on and dried up ink is actually gunked up inside of the nib.

I do this once a month or so with my nibs. I find that it often takes three or four soakings to get everything nice and clean. After everything dries, put it back together and you'll find that the ink flows super well again!

A new fountain pen is not yet "worn in" to your personal style of writing. As you write, the nib will deform very slightly so that the tip is presented at an angle that suits your hand. The flow of ink, controlled by how far apart the two halves of the nib are, will also gradually adjust to your own style.

For this to work well, you need a fountain pen with a gold nib. Other metals are too hard and will not adjust to your hand.

It is also important to make sure that only one person uses the pen. A fountain pen is personal to you. Lending it to someone else will mean that it starts to adjust to their hand, and that's not good for the nib.

Obviously, keeping it clean is important. Using good quality fountain pen ink helps, as it is designed to help the smooth flow of ink through your pen without clogging.

The image you have shown is "Hero Pen" widely used in south asia. I have used these for years. These pen's nibs are not removable from holders (It is permanent aka hooded nibs).

Smoothness of the nib is actually depends on the consistent flow of ink from reservoir to nib. Fountain pens works on the principle of gravity, pressure & capillary action.

Gravity - helps to flow down ink to the nib, Air pressure - Air has to go up to fill the vacuum in reservoir and capillary action needed for constant flow of ink through narrow passage. All these 3 will work properly only when the channels are clean, right from nib tip to reservoir. Cleaning the pen will remove the dirt & dried inks which causes clogging.

  1. Dip the pen in any acidic solution. (Vinegar, lime juice or conc.Orange juice). This will dilute if ink is dried in nib. (Make sure acid is clean and pure liq, So better to use distilled vinegar)

  2. Clean the reservoir and feed with vinegar solution. Fill the reservoir of the pen with vinegar by regular method how we put in the ink. Then disgorge or spill out the content.

  3. Brush the nib and feed.

  4. Clean with hot water.

  5. If the nib is too sharp, rub the nib on any abrasive surface mildly.

TIPS:

  1. While buying itself we can mostly identify the smoothness by scribbling on waste paper, We will get some idea on its sharpness. Do not buy if it is too sharp.
  2. Dry ink may block the flow, So always keep the pen closed with its cap.

You don't say whether your pen was expensive or inexpensive - I certainly used to find that, amongst the cheaper ones, you often got one that had a rough, imperfect nib and it was rough to use. If you bought an expensive pen, take it back to where you got it and exchange it - if it wasn't expensive, then I'm afraid you either need to spend more money on a better pen, or buy another cheap one and hope it's okay.

  • that's a cheap pen - I've paid £45 (British pounds) in the past for a good fountain pen, but more usually around £10 - got sick of the cheap ones not working properly. – Bamboo Dec 28 '14 at 11:46
  • I don't think cheap or not is reasonable here. I said $1 to give you an estimate of how much it would cost in Dollars. Of course it might be cheap in America but in India, it isn't. $1 = ~60 Rupees – Amit Joki Dec 28 '14 at 11:55
  • Ah, okay, my apologies, I assumed you were in the USA when you mentioned dollars... in which case, can you return it for an exchange? In my experience, if they're scratchy when new, they don't get better. – Bamboo Dec 28 '14 at 11:57
  • Not when you've used it already and when it's more than a week since purchase :p – Amit Joki Dec 28 '14 at 11:58
  • that's unfortunate - I'd still try for an exchange though! You can't know its imperfect unless you try it, after all – Bamboo Dec 28 '14 at 12:00

A rough nib can be caused by a number of factors.

The width of the nib is always key. An extra-fine or fine nib will always be scratchier than a medium or broad. The Hero pens tend to be mostly extra fines, and they will simply have a scratchier character; even the classic pen it's modelled after, the Parker 51, has scratchier XF nibs than M nibs.

The first one to look at is the "set" of the nib--whether the tines are properly aligned and even. Usually, bending the tines to make them align properly, and not be angled but parallel to each other may be all that's required to get the nib back into good shape. Some people write with pressure in such a way as to disturb the set of the nib, so you may have to repeatedly do this for maintenance. Examining the tines under magnification with a loupe can be useful for this. (See: Richard Binder's nib smoothing workshop notes (PDF)).

A second factor may be the tipping. A fountain pen nib, to write smoothly, should be tipped with a harder material that's been rounded and polished. Cheaper fountain pen nibs may not be tipped, or the tipping may have broken off and left a porous surface. In these cases, using a very fine, mild abrasive surface (like 10,000 grit) to smooth the tipping may work, but can be difficult to do correctly without adding an edge. Light, circular strokes, on a wetted grinding surface may help. Sometimes, the nib may be past this type of repair and may require replacement or retipping.

Inkflow has to do with the air/ink interchange and capillary action. If the pen writes too wetly, drips, or blots a lot, chances are good, the exchange is too heavy. If the pen skips or runs dry a lot, then the exchange is too light. The air/ink exchange is generally controlled by the fit of the nib against the feed (the plastic the nib rests on).

Dried, hardened ink in the feed channels is usually the #1 culprit of a pen that won't start or that skips. Proper fountain pen ink is water-soluable dye. When the water evaporates, the solid pigment can cake and block ink and air passage. A simple soak with water should dissolve the dye, but may take a very long time, depending on how thin the channel is and how accessible it is from soaking. A pen like the Hero is liable to take a good long time (a few days), and will require flushing by filling and emptying the reservoir multiple times. You do not want to soak metal parts (may corrode), and you do not need to use acidic or alkaline solutions (may affect the plastic), and you don't want to soak it in ink because you may pollute fresh ink in the bottle with crud from the old ink (fungus, sediment). Time and water will always clear ink from a fountain pen.

If flushing doesn't help, then the set of the nib against the feed may be the culprit, but it will require disassembly and adjustment, and this is best done by someone who knows how to service the pen.

  • Seems like you copied this text from somewhere or forgot to add the link (second paragraph). If the lattest, just add the link. If the former, please add the source you copied this from (to prevent any copyright issues). – Alex May 3 '15 at 9:34
  • @Alex, this is all original text I wrote extempore. None of it was copied from somewhere. Feel free to google on it, but it's original. I collected and restored vintage fountain pens for over a decade. – inkista May 3 '15 at 23:29
  • It just seemed to me, that the link to Richard Binder's PDF was broken. Don't you want to add one? – Alex May 4 '15 at 4:10
  • 1
    @Alex. Ah. Got it. Fixed the link. – inkista May 4 '15 at 4:42

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