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What Is A Flex Pen?

flex pen vocab

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6 replies to this topic

#1 william2001


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Posted 04 September 2014 - 18:21

I heard about "Flex Pens" often.

What exactly is a flex pen?

Thank you in advance,

William S. Park


P.S. I'm really bad at pen vocab.

“My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane. - Graham Greene

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#2 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 18:26

It's a matter of definition.

Some think any pen with some flex is a "Flex" pen.

They are wrong.

True regular flex is often semi-vintage or vintage in many modern pens are semi-nail instead of regular flex, so folks with modern pens become confused to how much flex a pen has to have to be 'flexible' in htey have a semi-nail instead of a regular flex.


This flex set spreads it's tines only 3 X a light down stroke.

A well mashed Regular flex will spread it's tines 3 X a light down stroke.

Semi-flex requires half of that.....IMO one need a semi-flex nib to clearly understand everything.

'Flexi'/maxi-semi-flex requires half the pressure of a semi-flex to spread it's tines 3X or 1/4th the pressure needed to mash a regular flex to 3X.

Those are not 'Flex' nibs.

The term 'flexi' was/is used...besides "Flex". That leads to some confusion.

As a 'noobie' with a few semi-flex nibs, I put a Rupp screw nib on one of my screw pens....For three days I went around saying wow...that sure is maxi-semi-flex. :eureka: :eureka: :eureka: After three days it dawned on my that was one of those 'flexi' pens some folks mentioned with out defining.

I define this flex set 90% of the time, so it does not get confused with the "Flex" nib.

There is nice flexibility in this set...but it Lacks Width of Tine Spread.


I find regular flex and semi-flex to be normally in the middle of their flex sets. 'Flexi'/maxi-semi-flex, starts with the difference variances with in a flex set....that do not reach the next lower set.

I have some 14 or so of them. In the beginning when I had but 6, I got a bit AR.... and tried measuring subsets.

(A waste of time...in each nib in such a set even if made by the same company will have some variance. 3 of the nibs were F-1, 2 were F-1 1/4th, one the Rupp was F-1 1/2........but still distinctly lower than an Easy Full Flex in pressure....and in tine spread.

Soon I got wise to my folly....and just measured maxi-semi-flex with out getting so AR. I may have two of those F-1 1/2 nibs. There will be variance with in a flex set no matter if the nib is limited to 3X or is a super-flex 4-5-6 or 7.



Flex nibs can spread their tines 4-5-6 or even 7 X a light down stroke. These Super-flex nibs are the "Flex" nibs.

Easy full flex requires 1/2 the pressure needed for 'flexi', or 1/8th the pressure needed to mash a regular flex.

(I would put my Waterman 52 in between these two sets..slightly harder start than my wet noodle with easier tine spread when started than my Easy Full Flex nibs..)

Wet Noodle half of that or 1/16th.

Weak Kneed Wet Noodle (Oxnard's term) even less.


A man with some 8 wet noodles measured the flex on a scale.....from "heavy" to light. That was quite a range of Wet Noodles....Some one with so many or with a heavier wet noodle and a light weak kneed wet noodle could tell the difference between a wet noodle and a weak kneed one.


Dip pen nibs go from my 16 or one with some good flex( ie Easy Full Flex/Wet Noodle....to those that make any noodle on a fountain pen....look regular flex.




A Noodlers Ahab is a 'Flex' nib....but one that requires semi-flex pressure, which is very very much for a "Flex" pen.

The Ahab mod takes that nib to Easy Full Flex.....a two step up in the flex pressure. Now a fun nib.


You should not try writing max flex with your nibs...especially the "Flex" nibs.

Read the article by Richard Binder in his site on how to spring a nib easily.


I have a Waterman 52, that with a super light hand is a XXF to BBB. I pressed that nib once to see how wide it went....and will only go BB....there is no reason to max a nib except once to test it. (be nice to have some experience to guide you.)

My Pelikan 100n, will go to 5 X a light down stroke....I limit that to 4X....in I want to have the nib, and not spring it from too much, too often.


If you want Olympic splits....get a good dip pen nib, like a Hunt, 99-100-101 or the fabled Gillette 303.

They make a Wet Noodle look uncooked.

My Hunt 99-100-101 flex when there is an Earthquake in California.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 04 September 2014 - 19:13.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,


The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.




#3 tonybelding


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Posted 04 September 2014 - 18:26

It's nothing more than a pen with a flexible nib, so you can get some line variation when you write.  Like so...



#4 Yaakova


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Posted 04 September 2014 - 18:29

A flex pen, is one with a softer, more flexible nib than the average fountain pen. This permits the tines of the nib to spread apart slightly on the downstrokes and allows for greater line variation. It allows the writer to produce script reminiscent of Copperplate, Spencerian, or English Roundhand.

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#5 bardiir



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Posted 04 September 2014 - 19:10

2014-09-04 21.08.37.jpg

My Pens/Nibs (inked/active): Lamy Studio/Vista/Joy (XXF slight-flex custom | 14k EF | EF | F | 14k M | M | B | 14k 1.1 custom | 1.1 | 1.5 | 1.9), TWSBI Diamond 580 (F | Pendleton BadBoy | Zebra G | F.P.R. semi-flex), Pilot Falcon EF, Penkala Vintage 14k semi-flex, Pilot Parallel (2.4 | 3.8 | 6.0)

I'm still looking for help/data/supporters/sponsors for my Ink Database - It already contains over 900 Inks but is still low on data about the inks except on the Inks I got myself or where I found nice data sheets. So Im looking for these: InkSamples mailed to me, Permissions to use InkReviews - preferable by people who have a lot of InkReviews online, InkReviews mailed to me so I can scan them, Sponsors that will help me to finance InkSamples, People willing to trade InkSamples (list of available Inks from me is available via PM request - please include available Inks)

#6 Freddy


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Posted 04 September 2014 - 21:40

I heard about "Flex Pens" often.

What exactly is a flex pen?

Thank you in advance,

William S. Park







   Start here...



   Fountain Pen Nibs: The Basics..by Richard Binder



  Nibs III: Flex vs Italic..by Richard Binder




#7 kidde



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Posted 05 September 2014 - 03:55

I'd have to say this covers it. Bo Bo Olsen's warning on pushing a pen too hard too often is sage advice. There are also "soft" and "springy" nibs which do not have the spread of true flex. All of the tine spread is controlled by writing pressure, so your downstrokes can taper and vary giving a quality to your writing that is difficult to get otherwise.
Dip pens are by far the least expensive way to experience flex, but all dip nibs aren't flexible. I'd suggest maybe a Zebra G as the chrome plating helps prevent rust and is not as soft as a Hunt 101 or Guillot 303 so not as easy to spring.
Just be warned, flex can become a consuming pursuit and the pens more and more expensive.


"Nothing is impossible, even the word says 'I'm Possible!'" Audrey Hepburn

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