Nib tuning…a kind of alchemy?!

For many in the cycling world, truing a wheel or even worse lacing the spokes of a wheel is almost like some sort of dark art, even alchemy. For me at least, doing anything that might be termed nib tuning, is very much the same thing.

Over the years I have read blog posts and watched YouTube videos that explain how one can make a dry nib wetter or a wet nib drier. How to rectify the dreaded babies bottom with micro-mesh. How to adjust the tines. How to floss said tines using a brass shim and how to spot all manner of ills by the use of a jewellers loop – that I have never seen any jeweller actually use!

It’s a minefield! Now, I have tried over the years to tune a nib that might have been too dry, however in all cases I have rendered that nib next to useless, with tines all over the place! Some ended up with a profile like the ski jump in Innsbruck!

If there was some sort of course you could go on for basic nib husbandry I might attend but I fancy nothing like this exists. There are people you hear about, who like horse whisperers, have an ancient skill handed down in secret to the chosen few. These people…these nibmeisters are hard to find and seem to have near mythical status attached to their abilities.

For me at least, I simply hope that the establishments I purchase my pens from have a good returns policy!

What do you think?

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One thought on “Nib tuning…a kind of alchemy?!

  1. It is not unusual for new nibs to have issues and to not write perfectly, straight out of the box. I find, the first step is to try the nib, dipped in ink, then examine the tines and tipping material with a high magnification loupe, (I use a x7) to try to identify what needs adjusting. Often it may be just that tines are not quite aligned, i.e. level and this is usually easy to rectify by bending one up until it is level with the other. Go very gently, keep checking and do not over do it. If tines are not aligned, the inside edge of the tipping material on the tine that is proud, scuffs on the paper, feels scratchy and picks up paper fibres which clog up the nib slit. (This can be cleared by flossing the nib with something; I use a piece of old 35mm camera film). Some grinding or smoothing of tipping material can be achieved by writing figures of 8 on brown paper or cardboard or micromesh. I have had some success making steel nibs write wetter by bending the tines upwards to widen the nib slit very slightly but if you go too far it will cease to write, if not in contact with the feed.
    Beyond this, I have not tackled anything more advanced. I would leave expensive gold nibs alone for fear of ruining them or invalidating a warranty and only do basic easy things such as above. Often pens get smoother and wetter with use.

    Liked by 1 person

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