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What is the Proper way to Repair a Bent Nib?


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44 replies to this topic

#1 JamesX

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 20:52

I dropped my Fountain Pen tip in the kitchen today and it hit the hard porcaline tiles tip first.

How instead of a straight tip I have a Curved tip.

I managed to make it relatively straight (it is gold tip so pretty soft) and it writes relatively well but it no longer glides over the paper.

Is there a easy way to repair it? or should I just send it back to Waterford to get a Nib replacement?

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#2 Flourish

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Posted 03 December 2009 - 21:11

If you think you're up to it it doesn't sound like to hard of a repair you'll just need to go slowly and test the nib often. First find yourself a small mirror smooth flat head screwdriver shaped tool or a couple smaller diameter wooden dowels. If you have a magnifying glass or jewelers loupe you'll be better using this than trying to squint with your eyes as you smooth out the tines of the nib. Go slowly and check your work often. Depending on how the tines have bent you will first with your fingernails gently bend them back into place, dip the nib and check the line that it lays down. If your tines are spread apart, gently rub each tine on the edge of a wooden table/desk/chair to coax it back to centered. Look at your tines and see if they are aligned along the center of your nib slit, if not gently rub the tines to align them on the edge of your table or with one of your screw drivers or dowels, gently now and don't forget to check your work as you go. If the tip of your nib is bent up or down very gently bend it back to straight, your tines might bend out or in slightly as you do this so try the above. If once your tines are bent back to straight but you see slight ripples in the gold you can place the rippled part of your nib on the edge of your table and take your mirror smooth screw driver and very gently rub the gold of the nib back to shape, check your work often. Now your nib may look repaired but when you test it the ink flow has changed. If the ink flow is wetter than before gently rub each side of the nib on your table edge to bring them closer together and this should help create a drier ink flow. If your ink flow is drier than before go get your self the thinnest razor blade/utility blade that you can find and starting at the nib slit hole gently swipe your blade down the nib slit and this should help create a better ink flow. Now if you look head on at your nib and notice that one tine is higher than the other you can gently bend the higher tine underneath the lower tine to help even them out. Check your work. Now you may find that your nib is slightly scratchier than before but you've got your tines straightened and everything is even so you'll have to smooth out your nib a touch. If you have 2000 mesh to 12,000 mesh micro mesh go through your grades and smooth your nib. If you don't have these exotic materials you can just get a cardboard box or a paper shopping bag and take a few swipes clockwise and a few swipes counterclockwise and check your nib, if it's still scratchy, repeat. Now everything should be okay and you can use your pen just like before if not then you may have to send it in to an expert repairman for repair.

Edited by Flourish, 03 December 2009 - 21:14.


#3 framebaer

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 00:58

If you think you're up to it it doesn't sound like to hard of a repair you'll just need to go slowly and test the nib often. First find yourself a small mirror smooth flat head screwdriver shaped tool or a couple smaller diameter wooden dowels. If you have a magnifying glass or jewelers loupe you'll be better using this than trying to squint with your eyes as you smooth out the tines of the nib. Go slowly and check your work often. Depending on how the tines have bent you will first with your fingernails gently bend them back into place, dip the nib and check the line that it lays down. If your tines are spread apart, gently rub each tine on the edge of a wooden table/desk/chair to coax it back to centered. Look at your tines and see if they are aligned along the center of your nib slit, if not gently rub the tines to align them on the edge of your table or with one of your screw drivers or dowels, gently now and don't forget to check your work as you go. If the tip of your nib is bent up or down very gently bend it back to straight, your tines might bend out or in slightly as you do this so try the above. If once your tines are bent back to straight but you see slight ripples in the gold you can place the rippled part of your nib on the edge of your table and take your mirror smooth screw driver and very gently rub the gold of the nib back to shape, check your work often. Now your nib may look repaired but when you test it the ink flow has changed. If the ink flow is wetter than before gently rub each side of the nib on your table edge to bring them closer together and this should help create a drier ink flow. If your ink flow is drier than before go get your self the thinnest razor blade/utility blade that you can find and starting at the nib slit hole gently swipe your blade down the nib slit and this should help create a better ink flow. Now if you look head on at your nib and notice that one tine is higher than the other you can gently bend the higher tine underneath the lower tine to help even them out. Check your work. Now you may find that your nib is slightly scratchier than before but you've got your tines straightened and everything is even so you'll have to smooth out your nib a touch. If you have 2000 mesh to 12,000 mesh micro mesh go through your grades and smooth your nib. If you don't have these exotic materials you can just get a cardboard box or a paper shopping bag and take a few swipes clockwise and a few swipes counterclockwise and check your nib, if it's still scratchy, repeat. Now everything should be okay and you can use your pen just like before if not then you may have to send it in to an expert repairman for repair.


I don't mean to sound cranky but I am stunned that you would give this type of advice to folks. This procedure may work for you but the potential to further damage a nib by following your advice is extremely likely IMHO. Razor blades in slits bending tines together on the edge of a table and swiping a nib clockwise and counter to smooth it is just plain bad advice.

You don't know me but I work for one of the most respected Nib meisters out there and I know what we do to fix a bent nib and the tools and techniques you are touting make me cringe!! SORRY.



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#4 gyasko

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 07:42

I don't mean to sound cranky but I am stunned that you would give this type of advice to folks. This procedure may work for you but the potential to further damage a nib by following your advice is extremely likely IMHO. Razor blades in slits bending tines together on the edge of a table and swiping a nib clockwise and counter to smooth it is just plain bad advice.

You don't know me but I work for one of the most respected Nib meisters out there and I know what we do to fix a bent nib and the tools and techniques you are touting make me cringe!! SORRY.


So what should the OP do?

Even if you don't want to say, it would sound less cranky and more helpful to explain what the precise risks are.

#5 girlieg33k

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 09:06

I once dropped a Stipula pen, nib down. The nib looked mangled beyond repair. It was sent to Richard Binder for repair. It was also treated to a .6mm cursive italic regrind. Personally, I'd never attempt to repair a damaged nib on my own, one that I cared about anyway. I'd send it to a reputable nib technician.
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#6 framebaer

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 11:39

I don't mean to sound cranky but I am stunned that you would give this type of advice to folks. This procedure may work for you but the potential to further damage a nib by following your advice is extremely likely IMHO. Razor blades in slits bending tines together on the edge of a table and swiping a nib clockwise and counter to smooth it is just plain bad advice.

You don't know me but I work for one of the most respected Nib meisters out there and I know what we do to fix a bent nib and the tools and techniques you are touting make me cringe!! SORRY.


So what should the OP do?

Even if you don't want to say, it would sound less cranky and more helpful to explain what the precise risks are.


Ok I can do that. To bend tines back straight we use very precise german round needle nose pliers, plastic pliers, square jawed pliers, our fingers ( he was correct on this one) I've been learning for 2 months and have only mastered very simple bends ( mostly 1 direction only -- it's also very easy to have a tine bent in 2 directions at once)

To spread apart tines-- we use an exacto knife not razor blades and the technique is designed to be very careful NOT TO NICK THE INNER WALL. Took me 2 months to master this one with the side knowledge of learning the very tedious process to UN-NIck a slit. Nib creep, uneven flow, skipping are all possible with a nicked inner wall. We fix lots of them at the spa.

Smoothing a nib has been the hardest skill to master for me. It is somewhat easy to fool around with and get some beneficial results, heck we even sell nib smoothing kits! Lots of folks are smoothing their own nibs. It seems easy to do but the reality is much more subtle.

Smoothing properly is all about shape and correct tine alignment. I still show Richard nibs where the tines look properly aligned to me after I have adjusted ,but aren't!! Many nibs start out from the factory with asymmetrical tines due to vagaries in manufacturing. Adjusting those suckers is truly an art--again it's all about shaping compensation, pad, corner edges on the nib- both inner(slit wall) edges and outer edges. Also the actual surface of the nib can have micro roughness in spots and removing them makes a HUGE difference to smoothness.

Anyhow I could go on for pages and pages but to distill down most of what I have learned about fixing nibs is that it truly is an Art to do right. There is a huge amount of feel involved and very minute changes have drastic effects!

Do I say don't do it? No, practice on pens you don't mind messing up. Have fun. But please refrain from giving advice that isn't necessarily sound to a newbie who has never tried to fix a nib without knowing the particulars. It's too easy for them to make matters worse.



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#7 Ron Z

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Posted 04 December 2009 - 12:06

I'm going to back up Framebaer's comments here.

Since I make my living providing pen repair services, naturally nib straightening and smoothing is a large part of what I do. But I deliberately refrained from commenting in this thread because nib work is so tricky, with so many variables, that it is easy to give incorrect advice. A quick answer on a repair forum is nearly impossible because good nib work is a skill that is developed over a great deal of time. Richard and I have talked about this, and Framebaer's comments reflect the truth that one's technique will develop and evolve. What we did a year ago may or may not be be the ones that we use today. There are so many facets that a short, concise answer is nearly impossible for one to give.

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#8 JamesX

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:21

Thanks for all the help.

I decided the fine tuning/restoration of the nib is beyond my experience. I contacted the repair vendor for my Pen and they said a replacement Nib is going to be over $100. So they referred me to a Nib repair specialist in Texas.

Going to send it in next week and hopefully have it restored to the silky smoothness it was before. Right now it's flow is limited so the lines are faded with bad saturation of the ink. Plus it makes scratching noises when I write (which it didn't before).

Thanks again for all those who posted :) much appreciated.

#9 PaFitch

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Posted 05 December 2009 - 04:23

The "tension" in looking for ideas in the forum lies in the issue of needing to do the work myself (sending a pen off to others, for me, isn't an option--really). I have learned that one needs to collect ideas from a number of places, develop a knowledge of which fpners speak from genuine experience, and, as mentioned above, proceed slowly (incrementally as a friend says). I appreciate people who will speak to a question, because this forum (and some personal experience both good and bad) have been my only source to learn about working on pens. Learning is less painful when the pens one uses for practice cost less than 5 bucks.

#10 Rabbit

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 01:18

I was always under the impression that you would need a nib block to do this repair, and the use of heat. (notice I said "nib block" which is different from a "knockout block".) Is this an old method or is it just used in certain situations? I've never attempted a repair like this--if it's an expensive nib, I know it's worth having a professional look at it rather than potentially making it worse by trying to "unbend" something. Metal has a tendency to do some undesirable things when you bend it too much under the wrong conditions.

--Stephen

#11 Flourish

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 01:58

If you think you're up to it it doesn't sound like to hard of a repair you'll just need to go slowly and test the nib often. First find yourself a small mirror smooth flat head screwdriver shaped tool or a couple smaller diameter wooden dowels. If you have a magnifying glass or jewelers loupe you'll be better using this than trying to squint with your eyes as you smooth out the tines of the nib. Go slowly and check your work often. Depending on how the tines have bent you will first with your fingernails gently bend them back into place, dip the nib and check the line that it lays down. If your tines are spread apart, gently rub each tine on the edge of a wooden table/desk/chair to coax it back to centered. Look at your tines and see if they are aligned along the center of your nib slit, if not gently rub the tines to align them on the edge of your table or with one of your screw drivers or dowels, gently now and don't forget to check your work as you go. If the tip of your nib is bent up or down very gently bend it back to straight, your tines might bend out or in slightly as you do this so try the above. If once your tines are bent back to straight but you see slight ripples in the gold you can place the rippled part of your nib on the edge of your table and take your mirror smooth screw driver and very gently rub the gold of the nib back to shape, check your work often. Now your nib may look repaired but when you test it the ink flow has changed. If the ink flow is wetter than before gently rub each side of the nib on your table edge to bring them closer together and this should help create a drier ink flow. If your ink flow is drier than before go get your self the thinnest razor blade/utility blade that you can find and starting at the nib slit hole gently swipe your blade down the nib slit and this should help create a better ink flow. Now if you look head on at your nib and notice that one tine is higher than the other you can gently bend the higher tine underneath the lower tine to help even them out. Check your work. Now you may find that your nib is slightly scratchier than before but you've got your tines straightened and everything is even so you'll have to smooth out your nib a touch. If you have 2000 mesh to 12,000 mesh micro mesh go through your grades and smooth your nib. If you don't have these exotic materials you can just get a cardboard box or a paper shopping bag and take a few swipes clockwise and a few swipes counterclockwise and check your nib, if it's still scratchy, repeat. Now everything should be okay and you can use your pen just like before if not then you may have to send it in to an expert repairman for repair.


I don't mean to sound cranky but I am stunned that you would give this type of advice to folks. This procedure may work for you but the potential to further damage a nib by following your advice is extremely likely IMHO. Razor blades in slits bending tines together on the edge of a table and swiping a nib clockwise and counter to smooth it is just plain bad advice.

You don't know me but I work for one of the most respected Nib meisters out there and I know what we do to fix a bent nib and the tools and techniques you are touting make me cringe!! SORRY.

I am sorry if I offended you. Yes there is potential for further damage however it is my firm belief that if one takes the process slowly and thinks about what they are going to do after reading up on the subject then the owner of a pen is more able to conduct repairs which will result in a pen that is best suited to their needs. Yes it takes practice and patience and if someone asks for advice on how to do something themselves the options should be laid before them so that they may make an informed choice on their own. I gave this advice because most everyone has access to the simple tools of a table edge and a dowel or polished screw driver and their fingernails. Only the owner of a pen can honestly judge if they might be capable of repairing a problem or if it would best be left in the hands of a professional such as yourself. I was raised that if I am going to use a tool I must also be able to maintain and care for it. Now I may be a freak of nature for this belief that if I am willing to put in the time to learn to care for my tools than others may be able to do it as well. On a daily basis I use many of the same tools that you as a professional use, and have been doing so for many years, but more often than not I use the very ones I suggested because they allow me to get closer to the nibs that I am working on with a better feel for the process. And of course the main ingredient for any type of repair work, or any type work for that matter, is thinking things through before attempting to do something. So I explained the basic process using tools that most anyone would have on hand instead of suggesting up to and beyond $1000 in specialized tools that can do the same work but the process whether or not one uses specialized tools is the same; think, look, think, gently try a step, test, think, try another step if necessary, think, test, repeat.

Now as there are professionals here who have put in the time and effort to learn their trade I understand that you may be downright mortified at the simple methods that I suggested. However many of the problems concerning a nib can be approached by the owner of the pen if they understand that it is their responsibility to know the process, think, go slowly and test often when undertaking a repair. Isn't this a good part of why the FPN has evolved into what it is today? So again I apologize for offending you and I knew full well that others would also offer opinions and suggestions. I only offered the most accessible one for someone who may want to attempt such a repair after thinking through the process and coming to an honest conclusion that they may or may not have the skills necessary. And be honest, if you had not attempted such a repair wouldn't a suggestion like mine make you think about first sending the pen in to a professional? Much like JamesX ended up doing.

Edited by Flourish, 06 December 2009 - 02:02.


#12 Ron Z

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 02:27

I was always under the impression that you would need a nib block to do this repair, and the use of heat. (notice I said "nib block" which is different from a "knockout block".) Is this an old method or is it just used in certain situations? I've never attempted a repair like this--if it's an expensive nib, I know it's worth having a professional look at it rather than potentially making it worse by trying to "unbend" something. Metal has a tendency to do some undesirable things when you bend it too much under the wrong conditions.

--Stephen


Using heat can damage the nib. It certainly changes the temper of the nib, so it's ability to spring back. Sometimes I use a nib block, often though, I don't.

I straightened this nib today. The left tine was bent in a "U", pointing back 180 degrees, the right was bent down and to the right. I did not use heat, I did not use a nib block. I certainly did not use a table edge or screwdriver. I did use some of the tools Jim discussed.

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Edited by Ron Z, 06 December 2009 - 03:21.

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#13 ZeissIkon

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Posted 06 December 2009 - 02:51

That reminds me of a discussion between Bill Bixby and his "sidekick" character on the old Magician series (what Bill did between Eddie's Father and Hulk). The sidekick was always asking Bill's character to show him a trick he'd used in the episode; this particular time, it was card sailing (tossing playing cards accurately and, at least sometimes, hard); this time, the magician's response was that he could, in fact, teach the sidekick the trick. "Really?! How long will it take to learn?" "Oh, about twenty minutes -- every day for the next fifteen or twenty years."

I suspect the same to be true of straightening bent nibs...
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#14 ednerdtheonly

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 08:07

I was always under the impression that you would need a nib block to do this repair, and the use of heat. (notice I said "nib block" which is different from a "knockout block".) Is this an old method or is it just used in certain situations? I've never attempted a repair like this--if it's an expensive nib, I know it's worth having a professional look at it rather than potentially making it worse by trying to "unbend" something. Metal has a tendency to do some undesirable things when you bend it too much under the wrong conditions.

--Stephen


Using heat can damage the nib. It certainly changes the temper of the nib, so it's ability to spring back. Sometimes I use a nib block, often though, I don't.

I straightened this nib today. The left tine was bent in a "U", pointing back 180 degrees, the right was bent down and to the right. I did not use heat, I did not use a nib block. I certainly did not use a table edge or screwdriver. I did use some of the tools Jim discussed.

Posted Image


EWWWW, I bet that what'd happened was that the owner released the nib on the VP too enthusiastically, and the tines got caught at the edges of the opening. Either that, or it was simply dropped. The VP is a rather heavy brass barreled pen, there's plenty enough mass to make a mess of the tines.

Anyway, I share framebaer's stance on nib working. I've done my share of amateur nib work, stubbing formerly unusable pens back into working shape, yet I recognize that there are aspects of tip working that are far beyond my scope. The most important point to take away I think is that a razor blade or knife has no business being between a pen's tines. It's inexcusable.

Edited by ednerdtheonly, 07 December 2009 - 08:11.

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#15 piembi

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 13:09

I have read the discussion with interest. I like to learn how to do something - even if I won't try to do it myself. I cannot afford to pay for every repair work necessary so I started learning to do some basic pen repair myself (and yes, there is a learning curve that includes some accidents!). Many pens I own I have bought only because I know I can repair them myself. But this does not include nib work.

The only nibs I have touched myself are nibs that came with Ebay cheapos (not worth spending significant money for repair work) or nibs that have been beyond repair anyway (e.g. missing tipping material). Except for some minor smoothening I have sent and will send every nib work to a pro. Nevertheless I think it is worth knowing how the process works to find out if you will give it a try or not with one parts pen or another.

#16 Garageboy

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 20:28

What's the best method to learn? Don't wanna damage any vintage pens, no matter how lousy

#17 majorworks

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 20:37

I was always under the impression that you would need a nib block to do this repair, and the use of heat. (notice I said "nib block" which is different from a "knockout block".) Is this an old method or is it just used in certain situations? I've never attempted a repair like this--if it's an expensive nib, I know it's worth having a professional look at it rather than potentially making it worse by trying to "unbend" something. Metal has a tendency to do some undesirable things when you bend it too much under the wrong conditions.

--Stephen


Using heat can damage the nib. It certainly changes the temper of the nib, so it's ability to spring back. Sometimes I use a nib block, often though, I don't.

I straightened this nib today. The left tine was bent in a "U", pointing back 180 degrees, the right was bent down and to the right. I did not use heat, I did not use a nib block. I certainly did not use a table edge or screwdriver. I did use some of the tools Jim discussed.

Posted Image


Ron:

What would be real interesting now is the "before" photo...

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#18 koa

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 23:25

And here I was thinking "ball-peen hammer, probably 6-8 oz." And of course if that didn't work, get a bigger hammer and it will go easy, as Vern always used to say. :vbg:
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#19 cgtopaz

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 10:48

Thanks for all the help.

I decided the fine tuning/restoration of the nib is beyond my experience. I contacted the repair vendor for my Pen and they said a replacement Nib is going to be over $100. So they referred me to a Nib repair specialist in Texas.

Going to send it in next week and hopefully have it restored to the silky smoothness it was before. Right now it's flow is limited so the lines are faded with bad saturation of the ink. Plus it makes scratching noises when I write (which it didn't before).

Thanks again for all those who posted :) much appreciated.



#20 cgtopaz

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 10:51

Thanks for all the help.

I decided the fine tuning/restoration of the nib is beyond my experience. I contacted the repair vendor for my Pen and they said a replacement Nib is going to be over $100. So they referred me to a Nib repair specialist in Texas.

Going to send it in next week and hopefully have it restored to the silky smoothness it was before. Right now it's flow is limited so the lines are faded with bad saturation of the ink. Plus it makes scratching noises when I write (which it didn't before).

Thanks again for all those who posted :) much appreciated.


I followed this post with interest and will be grateful if you can provide me the contact details of the Texas based repair specialist since I too need to get a couple of pens attended to. Thank you






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