Fountain pen nibs

For fountain pen newbies, choosing a nib size may be intimidating as choosing the best fountain pen. There are a variety of sizes, shapes, quality, and materials to choose from for these fine writing pens. Here are some things to consider when choosing a nib. The quality of the nib is one of the factors for a great writing experience.


As you can see in the picture below, the nib is made of several parts. The slit control, tines, and breather hold is what controls the flow of ink to the tip. The tip of the fountain pen is coated with extra material to maintain the durability.

Fountain pen nib

Fountain pen nib


Fountain pens can come in a variety of nib sizes. Nib size refers to the part tip touching the paper. Choosing the nib size comes down to your writing style and preference just like choosing your fountain pen. Generally a finer nib will be suitable for handwriting that is small or writing with Kanji or other Asian characters.  A broader nib are more for larger handwriting styles.


Common nib sizes are extra fine, fine, medium, and broad. Double-broad, italic, and oblique nibs are less common. Unfortunately the sizes are NOT standardized from one manufacturer to the next. Japanese nibs tend to be a little bit finer than American and European nibs. So a German fine nib can be the same size as a Japanese medium nib.


The wetness of the ink on paper is another factor when choosing a nib. As finer nibs put a finer line on paper, the ink will dry a bit faster than a broader nib which will put more ink on the paper but will lead to a smoother writing experience. This may be factor if you are in a rush.


The most common nibs are made of stainless steel, 14k gold, and 18k gold. Stainless steel nibs are the least expensive and are more common in, you guessed it, inexpensive fountain pens. Stainless steel nibs are often stiffer than gold nibs which are more expensive and can be found on higher priced pens. Gold nibs give a little more when you write thus smoother. You may have a preference depending on your writing style.


For tips on how to keep the nib clean, see the post on fountain pen maintenance for taking care of the nib.


There are also other factors that will give you a great writing experience. In addition the nib, there are plenty of inks and paper to choose from. The right combination of nib, ink, and paper will enhance your writing experience and make it enjoyable.

Writing with a fountain pen

Ok you’ve just made the purchase of one of the best pen in the world, inked it, and ready to fire it up. As you’ll find out, writing with a fountain pen can be fun, improve your handwriting, and easy on your hands. Writing with a fountain pen is a little different than with a ballpoint pen. With a ballpoint pen,  you can pretty much hold and write at any angle.  You can’t just do that with a fountain pen.  If you haven’t written with a fountain pen before, you may have to try a few times to get used to it.


When you hold the fountain pen, the top surface should be facing away from your hand. The pen should be at about 45 degrees angle. Positioning the pen correctly will allow the ink to flow smoothly and for you to write comfortably. Holding it at the wrong angle may result in an unpleasant experience and the nib may also feel scratchy and skip as you write. You may need to try a few times to get it just right. Once you find your zone, try not to rotate the pen as it will result in the unpleasant experience described above. Write with your arms.


Different from ballpoint pens, fountain pens do not require any pressure to write.  In fact, pressing down hard can damage the nib. Once you find that zone, the pen should just glide across the paper and ink will flow smoothly out. If ink doesn’t start right away, do not press down hard on the pen. Try to moisten the tip of the nib with water. See this post for more info on how to maintain the pen if the ink still doesn’t flow.


To get that optimal writing experience, consider pairing different types of paper with your pen.  You can also pair the different types of ink with your pen.


Writing with a fountain pen should be an enjoyable experience once you find that zone for positioning the pen. Have fun and experiment with the combination of pen, paper, and ink that you like. If you are a newbie and looking for fine writing pens, this post will hopefully help.

How to maintain fountain pens

Regularly maintaining your best fountain pens is a great way to upkeep your investment especially with higher priced pens. It will keep the ink flowing smoothly and . Sometimes the problems with writing can be resolved with simply cleaning the pen.


Cleaning your fountain pen is pretty easy and straightforward. As a first step, empty the ink. Then remove the nib section from the barrel. Rinse the nib repeatedly under room temperature water until the water is clear. Never use hot water as it may expand and damage the pen. Wipe dry with a paper towel. It is best to wrap the nib in a paper towel overnight to draw out any excess water. Occasionally it may be necessary to soak the nib for about 15 minutes if it is very clogged.


If you use the pens regularly, you should clean it about every 2 to 3 refills. You should clean it too if you change ink colors. If you plan to store the pens away, then remove the ink and follow the process to clean it described above. The pens should be good to go when you use it again.


A few obvious things to also keep in mind to maintain your fountain pens. One is to keep the fountain pens upright with the nib facing up when not in use. Two is keep the pens capped when not in use so that the ink doesn’t evaporate or thicken. Lastly, use ink intended for use with the fountain pens. Using ink that is not intended for fountain pens will damage your pens.


And that is about all on how to maintain your fountain pens. With regular maintenance, problems can be resolved or may not even manifest.