fountain pen recommendation

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Bope

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Oct 24, 2018
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32
Location
Western NY
My daughter and I are wanting to try a fountain pen. I am not worried about the turning since we have made several roller ball pens. My question is what is a reasonably priced fountain pen that writes nicely? From reading I have done it seems the ink pump and nib make a big difference in fountain pens. I don't want to just choose an inexpensive pen kit and not like how it writes because of cheap parts. On the other side I am hoping I don't have to get the Dayacom Oriental Dragon kit. So is there a kit that has good parts with out the expense of exotic plating?
 
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monophoto

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Mar 13, 2010
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Saratoga Springs, NY
Whether you will like using a fountain pen depends on a number of factors. Obviously, how well the pen writes is very important. But fountain pens write very differently from other types of pens, and that difference is something that takes getting used to. In addition, fountain pens require active maintenance, and can be messy both to use and to maintain. Some people never become comfortable with fountain pens. It's not the pen, but rather whether the user enjoys the overall experience.

The keys to whether a fountain pen writes well are the nib and feed - the components that control the flow of ink. Now, there is an element of 'different strokes for different folks' in that some people prefer a dry pen while others prefer a wet pen - in the world of fountain pens, 'wet' and 'dry' refer to how much ink the pen lays down on the paper. In my opinion, wet pens are generally easier to use, but can be a bit messy because it takes time for ink to dry, and if you touch the written page before the ink dries - - -

Another factor here is the size and style of the nib. Nibs range from 'ultra extra fine' to 'broad' - most kits come with middle of the road 'medium' nibs. That's a good starting point. There are also specialty grinds - italics, stubs, etc. Leave those for advanced users.

Most pens, and most pen kits, use plastic feeds, that there isn't much that can be done about a plastic feed - it is what it is. There are pens where the feed is made from a hard rubber compound that can be 'tinkered with' using heat, but that's usually something for advanced users. However, nibs can be 'tuned' to improve their performance. Tuning involved adjusting the spacing between tines of the nib to achieve the desired ink flow, and polishing the tip to minimize scratchiness. Expensive factory-made pens are often tuned at the factory, but that isn't practical on less expensive pens and components of pen kits. So there is an element of chance involved when you first use a fountain pen made from a kit.

I am a fountain pen user, and have several kit pens in my every-day-carry rotation. None were expensive kits, and they all write well. I have polished the nibs a bit (polishing is simple - actually, paper is mildly abrasive and simply writing with a pen will eventually polish the nib). Attempting to adjust the tines of a nib is a more advanced skill that requires time and practice to master.

There are, however, two factors that I think are important in choosing pen kits. The first is how the cap connects with the body - I prefer pens with a screw on cap because that design is more secure and minimizes the tendency for the nib and feed to dry out between uses, but I admit that most of the pens in my EDC rotation are the alternate snap cap design. The other factor is whether there is a center band. This is purely a matter of esthetics - if there is no center band, then the end grain of the wood used to make the cap is visible when the cap is removed. I don't find that very attractive.

You mention pumps - in general, the decision between various pumps, and between pumps and cartridges comes down to convenience rather than how well the pen writes.
 
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DrD

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Jun 26, 2019
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604
Location
Columbus, Mississippi
Your choices literally span A-Z. The nibs that come with most pen kits are generally very acceptable. All nibs - low cost to very expensive - many need to be tweeked. After turning your pen, fill the ink pump by lowering the nib, past the small hole in the top of the nib with some good "fountain pen ink" - available at Hobby Lobby - and write. If the writing experience is not totally satisfactory, take a brown paper grocery bag and write capital "L"s from right to left on the bag. This is usually enough to polish the nib; if not try repeating on some 2000 grit wet dry paper.

I enjoy making and using the El Grande or the Churchill from BHW. I also would recommend any of the Jr kits - Jr George, Jr Retro, etc., from Dayacom, and the Mistral from Beaufort Ink. The El Grandes @ ~ $15.00, the Jr's a little more and the Mistrals @~ $30.00. Check with some of the Vendors who are active here on IAP: Exotic Blanks, Bear Tooth Woods, Turners' Warehouse. I tend to stay away from the big distributors.

Best wishes,

DrD
 

More4dan

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Mar 17, 2016
Messages
1,973
Location
Katy, TX
I would second the Dayacom recommendation. They typically use a JOWO German nib, very good quality. Another important addition is the ink you use. Get a bottle of Waterman or Diamine ink. Both are water based inks that are relatively low maintenance.and easy to clean up. There are many good videos on “fixing” or tuning a nib to write better. I would not start with the Graduate or Stratos kits, they have an odd sized nib that many have tried to find an appropriate replacement without success. The Majestic and Majestic Jr pens also come with a good JOWO nib.


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Mr Vic

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Joined
Aug 11, 2008
Messages
1,587
Location
Falcon, CO
A lot of the Rollerball kits are also available as Fountain Pen kits. You can order just the nib section for a lot of them. I recently did an Atrax Rollerball for a graduation present. He wanted a FP but hadn't really used one. So he got the Rollerball with an interchangeable FP nib and converter. His Mom has ink and is a FP enthusiast. Check your supplier for nib availability. Got my Atrax from Bear Tooth Woods.

And Louie's post is spot on. Have a $4.75 Zebra I bought at Walgreens that writes great.
 

qquake

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Joined
Feb 8, 2004
Messages
2,397
Location
Northern California
I recently made two of the Clarion Demonstrator fountain pens, which are a lot of fun. One was buckeye, and the other was Diamondcast Oil Slick. I gave the Oil Slick to a friend who is a journalist (not a reporter) and a fountain pen aficionado. She has several high end, very expensive fountain pens, and yet she loves to write with this one. They come with both a converter (ink pump) and disposable ink cartridge. Plus, you only have to turn one body.
 

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