nib quality

Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

Mart

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2020
Messages
47
Location
Canada
Hello. I'm new to fountain pens and can't really tell a good quality nib from a cheap one. How good are the nibs that come with FP kits in the $15-$25 range like the Baron, Flat Top, RAW, etc. Would it be better to swap out the nib with something from Classic Nib, for example?
Thanks for your thoughts on this,
Mart
 
Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

duncsuss

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2012
Messages
1,730
Location
Wilmington, MA
There are a lot of opinions about fountain pen nibs, I'll give you mine (plus a few facts that might help).

  1. The single most important thing about fountain pen nibs is not whether it's cheap, expensive, 18 karat gold, or whatever. Far more important is "is it properly adjusted/tuned/smoothed so that it writes well?"
  2. There is a lot of value in learning from an expert how to smooth and tune a nib. Richard Binder (website richardspens.com ) is one of the best, but since Covid he's not been offering the "smoothing workshops" he has given many times in the past.
  3. Some fountain pen snobs believe that a nib engraved with the words "Iridium Point Germany" is, by definition, cheap junk. They might be correct, but that doesn't mean that it cannot be made to write as smoothly as more expensive "JoWo" or "Bock" steel nibs, which are typically the ones you'd substitute the kit-nib with. Anyway, for those people ... you'd have an easier time selling them a pen if you swap the nib. (But it had better be tuned.)
  4. Kits made by Dayacom (that have nibs engraved with their name) are believed to have JoWo nibs. There is no guarantee this will always be the case, and there is still a snob factor that may play a part in a buying decision.
  5. Truth be told - selling a fountain pen to a snob is going to be really hard if you don't know anything about them, no matter what type of nib you install in the pen. Snobs are snobs are snobs.
  6. You might be able to find somebody who likes your pen and who isn't a snob about the words engraved on the nib - but it wouldn't be nice to sell them a pen that scratches a hole in the paper and leaves a trail of splotches behind. (And it's pretty much guaranteed that you wouldn't sell them another if the first was like that.)

Hope this helps -

Duncan
 

monophoto

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
1,954
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
Duncan is right - snobs are snobs.

I have a bunch of fountain pens on my desk, and three are kit pens. The kit pens all write nicely, but that has nothing at all to do with the cost of the kit from which they were made. Instead, it has everything to do with whether the nibs have been tuned to give good performance.

The cheapest commercial (non-kit) pen you can buy right now - the Platinum Preppy costs less than $5 - and it writes beautifully. Unfortunately, the body and cap are made from some really crappy plastic that cracks if you look at it wrong.
 

Jontello

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
426
Location
USA, Ohio
Beaufort ink had great kits and you can always swap buy a bock nib unit with the kit. If you are going to sell pens to someone who buys high End fountain pens this might be the way to go. Just a thought.
 

EricRN

Member
Joined
May 16, 2019
Messages
494
Beaufort ink had great kits and you can always swap buy a bock nib unit with the kit. If you are going to sell pens to someone who buys high End fountain pens this might be the way to go. Just a thought.
I’m a fan of the stock nib on the Beaufort kits. Nice and springy. Doesn’t clog. I use it for my daily writer. I’ve had less luck with the Dayacom stock nibs. They always dry up on me and I find them to be difficult to clean.
 

Mr Vic

Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2008
Messages
1,786
Location
Falcon, CO
Check out "Fountain Pen 101" on Goulet Pens YouTube channel. Lot of great info/demos of the care, feeding, tuning of fountain pens.
A $15,000.00 pen can write crappier then a $10.00 pen if it's not tuned properly
 

Mart

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2020
Messages
47
Location
Canada
Thanks very much, Guys. That's a lot of great information and it looks like I should spend some time learning how to properly tune a nib. I'll buy some cheepo pens to practice on before working on one from my kit stash. I watched a few very good videos about tuning for proper flow, tine alignment and polishing and it looks like an interesting skill to develop. I checked out Goulet's site as well and yep, all the basics are there for me to learn.
That Beaufort site looks like another rabbit hole I'm going to go down, too. It would be nice to try out a high end pen.
Thanks again for your help. Once I'm able to properly tune a nib I'll feel more confident about the pens I give people.
Mart
 

duncsuss

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2012
Messages
1,730
Location
Wilmington, MA
These are the ones that I use for practice - under $2 each ... LINK ... as Louie says, look at them sideways and the plastic will break, but they are great for mangling and repairing the nibs. I have at least one in regular daily use - alongside my $600 Parker Duofold and a pen I made myself that has a JoWo #6 medium nib.




The other thing you will find very helpful is a 10x jewellers' loupe. Richard Binder recommends the Belomo Triplet 10x
 
Last edited:

skiprat

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
7,807
Location
In a Skip in Wales
Geee guys, stop picking on snobs!!!! :)
To be honest, any person that is passionate about ANYTHING could therefore be a snob. I like old cars and believe things should be just so. If you know what I mean. In USA, numbers matching on classic cars is a big thing for example. If the engine is not matching ( even if it's better ) you probably wouldn't buy it.
I'm not a lover of fountain pens. They are not my thing. But like with cars, technology moves on and there are far better and more reliable and more practical alternatives readily available. I have no idea if there is an alternative to a FP nib for calligraphy though.
My thoughts on the kit IPG nibs is twofold..... or perhaps threefold... 1. There is sod all Iridium in the point, 2. the nib has never been remotely near Germany... 3. I have never seen on ANY seller site that the kit which has Iridium Point Germany stamped on it, was in fact probably made in China. So, for me it's the lie, rather than the end product that turns me off. Even if the nib worked like a dream
A question to the pro's...... Can a nib be tuned and smoothed etc, in any pen and then transferred to another? I have no idea , but if you could have either the stock nib or a pre-tuned alternate available ( that you bought elsewhere ) it may help sales of us non-pros.
Sorry, i'm just rambling on really :)
 

skiprat

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2006
Messages
7,807
Location
In a Skip in Wales
Haha Duncan, don't apologise. I hate them too. They should all be used for spare parts or used for vivisection instead of animals.....
Tip of the day; Never take anything I say, seriously ( I'm full of it... ) :)
 

dantraymond

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2021
Messages
2
Location
Brisbane
This raised a related question for me. I am also new to pen making and begining to practice making kitless pens. Where can one get nib units to complete practice pens at a reasonable price. One day Bock/Jowo, for now something low cost.
 

Fred Bruche

Chapter Steering Committee
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
727
Location
Philadelphia 19146
This raised a related question for me. I am also new to pen making and begining to practice making kitless pens. Where can one get nib units to complete practice pens at a reasonable price. One day Bock/Jowo, for now something low cost.

Since the nib unit is not permanently attached to the section, you can buy one or two (one Bock one Jowo?) and transfer them to your next section to test the fit. Been there, still doing that, with one unit staying in the shop for that purpose. A pen will get a brand new shiny unit if it moves on to real-life outside the finished pen storage box.
 

Mart

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2020
Messages
47
Location
Canada
Hi Folks,
Not to flog the horse but just wanted to follow up on the notion of tuning nibs. Big thank you to all of you for your suggestions about learning more about that. Using the resources you guys provided, I spent some time learning and practicing the basics for how to ensure that a nib works properly. That was time well spent and I highly recommend it for anyone who's making fountain pens.
I found that most of the nibs that come with the kits need some attention because they're either a bit too scratchy, or they don't flow consistently or they dry out too quickly. But with just a few simple steps and careful inspection, you can get pretty much any nib to do what it's supposed to do.
That said, some nibs are simply better than others, the material they're made from and the grind seem to make the better ones feel smooth and need less attention so, I've started replacing the stock nib with others such as the Heretence from Exotic Blanks, or from other sources. But that's only for special cases because now that I know how to inspect, verify and tune the nibs I feel confident that even a stock nib can be made to perform well.
Thank you again for your advice and resources, very generous of you to share all your experience.
Mart
 

duncsuss

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2012
Messages
1,730
Location
Wilmington, MA
Hi Folks,
Not to flog the horse but just wanted to follow up on the notion of tuning nibs. Big thank you to all of you for your suggestions about learning more about that. Using the resources you guys provided, I spent some time learning and practicing the basics for how to ensure that a nib works properly. That was time well spent and I highly recommend it for anyone who's making fountain pens.

Mart - glad you find the exercise is paying dividends. I don't know if you saw this post - it was after your questions - but it has a link to a very useful list of things to do (and things to not do) written by Richard Binder and the good folks at Indy-Pen-Dance.

 

Mart

Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2020
Messages
47
Location
Canada
Hello Duncan, yes I read Richard Binder’s “Ten Commandments” and the takeaway for me was; don’t overdo it. And I think it kept me from ruining a nib. Excellent resource. Thinking about buying his book about restoration.
 
Top Bottom