Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies


Registration on the Fountain Pen Network

Dearest Visitor of the little Fountain Pen Nut house on the digital prairie,

Due to the enormous influx of spammers, it is no longer possible to handle valditions in the traditional way. For registrations we therefore kindly and respectfully request you to send an email with your request to our especially created email address. This email address is register at fountainpennetwork dot com. Please include your desired user name, and after validation we will send you a return email containing the validation key, normally wiithin a week.

Thank you very much in advance!
The FPN Admin Team






Photo

Nib Smoothing

flatspot smoothing micromesh lapping film sharp scratchy

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 16 January 2019 - 21:17

Greetings everyone :D ,

This is my first post in this forum and I need your help. I want to learn hot to properly smooth a nib, without creating any flatspots, sharp edges etc. My issue is that most of the tutorials online recommend methods such as drawing figure 8's which often lead to flatspots. My goal is to learn how to remove material, in a way that the nib gets a well rounded shape. I did refer to Mr. Wim Geeraets's which was excelent and very informative. However no matter how smooth the nib turned out there was, always a spot that was scratchy and when i managed to smooth that spot another one (scratchy) appeared. If anyone would be kind enough to share any information or methods of smoothing nibs in way that no flatspots or edges corners appear, It would really help me and perhaps other members of this forum.

Thanks in advance,

Nestor 



Sponsored Content

#2 grainweevil

grainweevil

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,044 posts
  • Location:Cornwall, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 11:04

Nestor, are you familiar with Richard Binder's Nib Smoothing Workshop notes? They're available here in PDF form, and may contain the knowledge you seek. Oh, and welcome to FPN. :)



#3 Karmachanic

Karmachanic

    Nibalitic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,860 posts
  • Location:Tralfamador

Posted 17 January 2019 - 11:47

Ludwig Tan's excellent tutorial:   http://www.marcuslin...ludwig-tan.html

 

I suggest you start with nibs you are prepared to loose. I purchased inexpensive Jinhao nibs and happily destroyed several in the learning process.


"Simplicate and add Lightness."


#4 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 12:12

Nestor, are you familiar with Richard Binder's Nib Smoothing Workshop notes? They're available here in PDF form, and may contain the knowledge you seek. Oh, and welcome to FPN. :)

Thank you :)  Yes I am, this was the first method I tried, however I probably did not understand the motion he explains to do when smoothing the nib. Especially the part where he uses the 0.3 micron lapping film which is supposed to knock the micro-mountains of the nib. I used micromesh sheets and not buffing sticks (I don't know if that makes any difference). Not only did the nib get any smoother but after using the lapping film it got even worse. I couldn't stop till my nib got smooth which led to removing all the tipping material off a sheaffer with a triumph nib. There are no videos that demonstrate Richard's method and since using the written instructions failed, I really don't know what else to do.



#5 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 12:19

Ludwig Tan's excellent tutorial:   http://www.marcuslin...ludwig-tan.html

 

I suggest you start with nibs you are prepared to loose. I purchased inexpensive Jinhao nibs and happily destroyed several in the learning process.

I will definitely look into it, though I don't have either Arkansas stone or crocus paper, nor do I know any sellers who do. I would be far happier if I destroyed some Jinhaos while learning, because for now the only pens I destroyed were a Parker 51 and a Sheaffer Valiant touchdown which are not that cheap.



#6 Karmachanic

Karmachanic

    Nibalitic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,860 posts
  • Location:Tralfamador

Posted 17 January 2019 - 13:03

I will definitely look into it, though I don't have either Arkansas stone or crocus paper, nor do I know any sellers who do. I would be far happier if I destroyed some Jinhaos while learning, because for now the only pens I destroyed were a Parker 51 and a Sheaffer Valiant touchdown which are not that cheap.

 One doesn't necessarily need a stone or crocus cloth. A set of micromesh pads 4000 to 12000 plus a sheet of 2000 wet/dry paper should do.

 

Slowly, slowly, little by little


"Simplicate and add Lightness."


#7 grainweevil

grainweevil

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,044 posts
  • Location:Cornwall, UK
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 13:32

I used micromesh sheets and not buffing sticks (I don't know if that makes any difference).

 

Rather depends what you have the sheets resting on - buffing sticks have some "give" or cushioning that can help to prevent flats forming. Exactly what you don't want in, say, forming an italic, but ideal for smoothing something in the round. You also need to move the tip around, up, down, left right, rotate it as you smooth etc. You're polishing an apple rather than a car bonnet, if you see what I mean. And don't get hung up on what variety of stone/cloth/etc is mentioned. They're all just forms of abrasive and will all smooth - or ruin - a nib with equal ability, grade for grade.

 

Karmachanic's advise is sound - cheap nibs, lots of practice, take your time. Don't be afraid to stop, walk away, and return to the nib another day. Some days it just never seems to want to go to plan!



#8 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 20:00

 

Rather depends what you have the sheets resting on - buffing sticks have some "give" or cushioning that can help to prevent flats forming. Exactly what you don't want in, say, forming an italic, but ideal for smoothing something in the round. You also need to move the tip around, up, down, left right, rotate it as you smooth etc. You're polishing an apple rather than a car bonnet, if you see what I mean. And don't get hung up on what variety of stone/cloth/etc is mentioned. They're all just forms of abrasive and will all smooth - or ruin - a nib with equal ability, grade for grade.

 

Karmachanic's advise is sound - cheap nibs, lots of practice, take your time. Don't be afraid to stop, walk away, and return to the nib another day. Some days it just never seems to want to go to plan!

I can see what you mean, though in Richard's notes a very specific motion is described which isn't just randomly sliding the nib around in multiple directions. My problem and the reason why I posted in the first place is not so much the abrasives that are being used, but the motion that one must do on them,  in order get buttery well rounded smooth nib. 



#9 Karmachanic

Karmachanic

    Nibalitic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,860 posts
  • Location:Tralfamador

Posted 17 January 2019 - 20:42

Coarser micro mesh for shaping, finer for polishing. In conjuction with specific motions decribed by both Mr Binder and Mr Tan. Buy yourself a Jinhao X750 and a dozen Jinhao nibs. You'll need a 10X loupe as well.

 

Practice, practice, practice.

Follow the instructions, gain experience. Learn. There is no other method that I am aware of. Go for it! :)


"Simplicate and add Lightness."


#10 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 22:15

Coarser micro mesh for shaping, finer for polishing. In conjuction with specific motions decribed by both Mr Binder and Mr Tan. Buy yourself a Jinhao X750 and a dozen Jinhao nibs. You'll need a 10X loupe as well.

 

Practice, practice, practice.

Follow the instructions, gain experience. Learn. There is no other method that I am aware of. Go for it! :)

 You are right I will definetely buy some cheap pens, there are no Jinhaos in Greece. However I think i can find some platinum preppys or something like that to practice on. The problem with Mr. Binder's instructions is that in some parts I don't understand the motion he is describing. In particular the third part of nib smoothing where he explains the process of knocking the micromountains of the nib, by using the 0.3 mylar paper, it the part that I dont get at all. Perhaps you could be kind enough if you have understood what kind of motion he is describing, to explain it to me?



#11 Karmachanic

Karmachanic

    Nibalitic

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,860 posts
  • Location:Tralfamador

Posted 17 January 2019 - 22:42

One can purchase Jinhao pens and nibs here.

You want to run, but right now you cannot even stand. Buy the pen and nibs, and start doing. Follow Mr Tan's instructions to start with.

Gain some understanding, and experience, from which confidence will develop. Now is not the time to worry about micromountains!

Develop some basic skills first. Start doing. Understanding will follow.

This is all I have to offer.


"Simplicate and add Lightness."


#12 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 17 January 2019 - 23:08

One can purchase Jinhao pens and nibs here.

You want to run, but right now you cannot even stand. Buy the pen and nibs, and start doing. Follow Mr Tan's instructions to start with.

Gain some understanding, and experience, from which confidence will develop. Now is not the time to worry about micromountains!

Develop some basic skills first. Start doing. Understanding will follow.

This is all I have to offer.

Well I think I can stand alright even run maybe! I have repaired quite a few bent nibs with crossed tines etc. Even smoothed them to a certain point. What I was looking for was the last few steps that will perfect the nib, getting it to a buttery smooth point. Micromountains are in this territory, of the final polishing and quite honestly what I was more interested in. Thank you for your replies!



#13 minddance

minddance

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,573 posts

Posted 18 January 2019 - 01:11

First, you need to identify where the scratch is coming from, whether it is the outer visible tipping or the inner tines. Normally the outer parts are quite well smoothened by manufacturers, except some Japanese brands where, i cannot confirm if it is intentional or otherwise, they leave some angled cuts. I have seen this with Pilot Custom, Sailor gold nibs.

Normally the scratch, for me, comes from the inner tines. At writing angle, 2 tines do not always meet the paper completely, especially at loops or in bigger and faster writing. The pressure at the 2 tines will almost always be different. This exposes the inner tines to the paper.

Some manufacturers round the inner tines pretty well, e.g. my Pelikan m800. Whereas some manufacturers leave the inner tines rather unfinished, e.g. my Sailor gold nibs. No problem with the Sailors as long as the tines do not have too big a gap.

Jinhao nibs are actually quite smooth. If you get them to practise smoothing, you will be unsmoothing them, possibly creating sharper inner tines as a result. (A new problem created) Then trying to smooth them again.

It depends also on how big a gap you want the tines to separate at the tip. A big gap demands real smooth and rounded inner tines. A small gap is usually more forgiving of the inner tines because the 2 tines work as one, not as 2 or 3 or 4.

Therefore, closing the gap between tines can sometimes make a pen write smoother. (But this does not solve the actual problem because if you write with slightly more pressure, the inner tines are exposed to paper again)

These are points I did not see on the attached notes by both Binder and Ludwig Tan. But Binder addresses the issue of inner tines.

Practice is a good thing only when it is done in the correct direction. The essence is to identify the problem, not trying things out and 'practising' haphazardly.

It certainly helps to have high powered magnification with ample lighting so that you can observe and take notes of what you have done to the nib(s).

And sometimes, fingernails are your best friend, not always abrasive films.

No mountain is too micro because it will be felt, especially when you want glass smooth writing.

Good luck.

Edited by minddance, 18 January 2019 - 01:37.


#14 Nestor

Nestor

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts
  • Location:Athens
  • Flag:

Posted 18 January 2019 - 09:02

First, you need to identify where the scratch is coming from, ...

I couldn't agree more. Most of the times the exterior of the nib, especially after smoothing it with 0.3 micron lapping film, has a mirror finish. It is only when I write with a tiny bit pressure and perhaps an angle where they always begin scratching. So this leads me to believe that it is an inner tine smoothing issue. Which leads me to the question, how should one smooth the inner tines of the nib (without creating inkflow issues such as baby's bottom). I tried to slit 0.3 micron lapping film between the tines with a small angle away from the tine I wanted to polish and then moved it upwards and downwards. This did improve things a bit but still there was scratchiness (perhaps because this process smooths the bottom of the nib more than the front). 

What would you recommend to smooth the inner tines? Also I did not get the part where you said "And sometimes, fingernails are your best friend, not always abrasive films". Is there a trick I am missing?  :lticaptd: 



#15 danielfalgerho

danielfalgerho

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 240 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 21 March 2020 - 18:51

Trying to address this issue as well. Still experimenting. I tried buffing with tripoli followed by jeweler's rouge on a felt wheel but visual check shows the results are minimal as the tip material on good nibs is very hard. I hesitate to get more aggressive but it's in the interest of science. Of course I don't want to go so far that the nib would skip but I once saw a clip showing how to get rid of the dreaded "Baby's Bottom" Oh well, it takes all kinds, even those who will throw out the baby's bottom with the bath water.  


Edited by danielfalgerho, 21 March 2020 - 18:56.


#16 BaronWulfraed

BaronWulfraed

    Antique

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,726 posts
  • Location:Lowell, MI
  • Flag:

Posted 21 March 2020 - 23:41

Based upon https://www.foredom....ipoli-compound/ the tripoli was likely an exercise in futility :D



#17 Paul-in-SF

Paul-in-SF

    Slightly Dusty

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 532 posts
  • Location:San Francisco
  • Flag:

Posted 22 March 2020 - 19:25

The Pen Habit has I think three videos on nib tuning on Youtube, including smoothing. He makes an excellent point that as you do one step in nib tuning (tine alignment, tine gap adjustment, smoothing) you have to go back and check the other ones to make sure you haven't messed them up, especially nib alignment. I recommend these as being very thorough on both theory and technique. 

 

My other observation is to ask how smooth is smooth for you, and what do you call scratchy? Do you hate any feedback at all? Does the nib have to feel like smooth glass sliding across an ice cube? If so, you may not be able to get there without a ton of practice. I've smoothed some of my own nibs but my standards may be lower than yours, and I actually prefer mild to moderate feedback. Anyway, best of luck to you in your search. 


Edited by Paul-in-SF, 22 March 2020 - 21:20.


#18 TheDutchGuy

TheDutchGuy

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,398 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 22 March 2020 - 20:32

FPN’s founding father WimG showed me how he does it. After that I took it further myself. I do lots of work on my own nibs, from smoothing to total re-grinds, using only various grit sizes, a set of shims, a hand lens and a stereo microscope. I never work on other people’s nibs (except close family and friends) and I’m hesitant to provide tips here because I would not want someone to try my suggestions and ruin a priceless nib the process. So I’ll just share some general points:

-I completely agree with Minddance’s excellent post above.

-On the one hand, four big groups: (1) rigid gold nib, (2) soft gold nib, (3) rigid steel nib, (4) soft steel nib. On the other hand you have a plethora of nib sizes and shapes, ranging from EF to OBBB and from needlepoints to big, fat stubs, and then you have things like architect grinds. Each combination may or may not require a different approach. Generally speaking, soft is much more difficult than rigid, for reasons that Minddance described (soft exposes the inner tines to the paper). Steel and gold each respond in a different way to smoothing. People expect gold to be malleable and steel to be tough, but we’re talking about tipping material here and I’ve seen steel tips disappear like snow before the sun whereas the tips of some gold nibs proved to be very resilient.

-The original shape of the nib’s tip matters a lot. Brands tend to have their own approach to shaping the tips of their nibs: some use miniature tennis balls stuck on the end of the tines, some use more elaborate shapes. If you just want to smooth a nib (i.e. there are no other issues with the nib), then maintain its original shape as much as possible. Take a good look at it, photograph it, draw it, whatever. Frequently compare what you have to what you had. Go slow. What’s gone, is gone forever.

-As Minddance has pointed out, the inner tines matter. Smooth them too much, you might get a nice case of baby’s bottom and/or an overly smooth nib without tactile response. How much smoothing the inner tines need, does not only depend on the nib but also on the way you write, as an individual. Do you have a light touch or do you press down? Do you rotate your pen when writing? People with a feathery touch who don’t rotate their pens will be happy with less smoothing than some others.

-Few activities inspire people to chase their own tail like nib smoothing does. Two main warnings: (1) Don’t do long sessions! Work in 20 minute intervals or so and take breaks. If you’re not making progess, put it away and try again the next day, week or even month. (2) Know when to stop!! How do you know? Always, always, always compare to another pen. You need an unchanging point of reference. Smoothing makes you extremely susceptible to remaining feedback; you might have smoothed a nib almost to perfection but there’s this one tiny little trace of what might conceivably be called feedback... direct comparison will tell you when to stop.

-Stay away from specialty nibs like architects unless you’re willing to ruin it as part of your learning curve.

-There seems to be a notion that stubs are easy. Personally I think that’s a misconception. I find stubs hard to do. Yes, it’s easy to get it in the ballpark, to create a shape that resembles a stub, or to remove some roughness from a stub or an italic. The first challenge is in the sidestroke, which needs to be as thin as possible. This requires a concave writing area (basically a half-cylinder) where the point of contact with the paper is exactly in the same spot of the concave curve all along the width of the nib. The second challenge is smoothness versus crispness; finding the right balance can be maddening (not in the least because the smoothing might undo your achievements with the first challenge).

 

I find nib work to be extremely rewarding when it turns out the way I’d hoped it would, but part of it is accepting that some nibs are beyond your abilities. Last week I did a complex re-grind of an expensive nib and was done within 30 minutes with excellent results, yet today I worked on a simple steel nib that I normally would have smoothed within minutes, but it resisted every effort and I had to accept defeat, at least for now.



#19 alexwi

alexwi

    If you're not inside, you're outside.

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 382 posts
  • Location:Hoboken, NJ
  • Flag:

Posted 23 March 2020 - 01:14

...Especially the part where he uses the 0.3 micron lapping film which is supposed to knock the micro-mountains of the nib...

 

Until you mentioned this, I never gave Richard's notes but a very cursory read to understand the basics, but you're right. The paragraph you refer to is impossible for me to understand:

 

"Move to the 0.3μ lapping film. With the pen in a normal writing position, rotate or sway it slightly to one side, just enough to raise the middle of the writing pad off the paper. Push downward gently, and flick the pen upward and to the side, allowing it to come off the film. If you hear a tick, you have knocked off a micro-mountain. Con-tinue in this vein until there are no more obvious micro-mountains."

 

If someone familiar with his grinding process could shed some light on this, it would be awesome.

 

Alex



#20 danielfalgerho

danielfalgerho

    Extremely Rare

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 240 posts
  • Location:New York

Posted 03 April 2020 - 21:58

Richard Binder's approach is really the way to go. My attempts to find a shortcut (tripoli on a felt wheel followed by rouge) improved a cheap nib but failed entirely on Parker nibs that came to me with a severe foot. The inner margins on quality nibs were unaffected, I thought I heard laughing. Once again, laziness did not pay.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: flatspot, smoothing, micromesh, lapping film, sharp, scratchy



Sponsored Content




|