A 2014 video on transforming an inexpensive standard steel nib into a cursive italic stub, produced by Nathan Tardif of Noodler's Ink, suggested a hacking experiment with the nibs of Jinhao 599 pens. The pens are currently available on eBay for $2 or less. I started with a Jinhao 599 with a Medium nib because this particular pen uses a more traditional nib with a slightly longer body and tines, unlike the more modern-looking nib on Fine versions of the 599. The investment in materials, tools, and equipment totals about $10, so there is very little risk involved.
The question behind the experiment is: Can a rank amateur lop off the tip from a medium nib on a Jinhao 599 and make it write fairly well -- or, more ambitious -- make it write smoothly? To my great surprise, the answer is yes. Another contributor to the Fountain Pen Network, Ian the Jock, has confirmed the experiment with a $2 Baoer pen. I've tried this technique twice now -- the first time with a Jinhao x450, sometimes available for $1, shipped from China (!) I accidentally lopped off too much of the Jinhao x450 no. 6 nib, resulting in a 1.7 mm cursive italic stub. It was rather broad, but still wrote well. For people who like to learn on Chinese pens and try other types of nibs, there is very little stopping us.
Resources and results of the experiment are posted below.
Nathan Tardif's Nib Transformation Video
Using a pair of diagonal cutters, lop off the tip of the nib. In Tardif's video, he just does it by sight. Place 2000-grit wet-dry automotive abrasive paper on a hard surface and smooth off all the external sharp edges. It only takes a few strokes. Then pick up each tine and use the abrasive paper to make a couple of light passes on the inner surface of the tines. Ensure the tines are aligned, and the gap between tines is moderate. A 10x loupe is essential for this. A separate video, by Brian Gray of Edison Pen Company, is helpful here, as are notes available on Richard Binder's website.
Brian Gray's Nib Alignment Video
The Nib and Pen
A Writing Sample