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Pliers: Time To Start Learning Some Basic Nib Straightening Work.


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29 replies to this topic

#1 eharriett

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 05:04

Time to begin learning with some pens Ill most likely destroy. But, before I can kill the pens properly, I need the appropriate murder weapon.

What specifically is the right needle nose plier I always see you guys at pen shows working with to adjust/straighten/manipulate/repair nibs?

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#2 FarmBoy

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 05:17

I find a thumb nail to be the most effective unbender.


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#3 Brianm-14-FRMS

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 08:59

I agree with FarmBoy, based on my much more limited experience (by far). Tools have a way of quickly getting out of hand ("Maybe just a tad more . . ." has been on the lips of many, just before that moment of nearly infinite regret).

If you really persist in looking for trouble, you can find decent sets of small, needle-nosed pliers, bent to various angles, on Amazon. Look for high ratings, and read them closely. Even idiots write reviews. The pliers will all be Chinese; no matter. The set I have has six pliers, and has done me well for both microscope and vintage firearm repair for several years; it was a far more cost-effective way than just buying one or two alone, plus the cloth toolroll is very nice. Would work on pens -if I let them. Ha!
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#4 eachan

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 09:00

I agree that fingers can be very effective when the damage is slight but for worse bends I use round nose pliers.  I suppose needle nose pliers with flat surfaces would work too.


Regards,

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#5 praxim

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 09:51

You write that you have spare pens on which to work and are aware of the risks, so go for it. I am similarly a learner in this. My approach has been to use finger- and thumb-nails to the extent possible, after which I try a nib block and roller or burnisher, then as a last resort round nose pliers. Some efforts have worked, some not; as expected. I am currently unlikely to try flat pliers, needle nose or other. As a general statement, stretched (including bent) metal needs significant heat to "unstretch" so your aim with bending is to change form rather than to restore pure prior state. If you get it right then you should nor really notice the difference on a small scale.

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#6 SchaumburgSwan

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 11:02

Hi,

 

I don't use pliers at all, too much risk in my hands.

The ones I work on are delicate vintage Swan flex nibs and I've seen ugly damages from the use/misuse of pliers.

Finger nails are surprisingly useful as is wood...

 

Best

Jens


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#7 evan-houseman

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 15:07

For me - 'goin to the pliers' is a last resort.

Depending on the damage, thumbnails work, burnishing the bend on something hard works.

Worst case scenario; clip or grind down to the bend, polish, and you got yourself a brand new stub.

In the picture, the upper pair is for pulling incalcitrant feeds. The lower pair for when needed.

Beware: gold nibs are like frozen butter - a whole nuther animal.

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#8 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 16:38

Time to begin learning with some pens Ill most likely destroy. But, before I can kill the pens properly, I need the appropriate murder weapon.

What specifically is the right needle nose plier I always see you guys at pen shows working with to adjust/straighten/manipulate/repair nibs?



My murder weapons of choice have been an old-ish set of jeweler's pliers with both flat and round noses. But then I was used to bending and breaking jump rings and the like. Slow and careful and pad the jaws. Have fun.

#9 eharriett

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Posted 16 September 2019 - 18:43

For me - 'goin to the pliers' is a last resort.
Depending on the damage, thumbnails work, burnishing the bend on something hard works.
Worst case scenario; clip or grind down to the bend, polish, and you got yourself a brand new stub.
In the picture, the upper pair is for pulling incalcitrant feeds. The lower pair for when needed.
Beware: gold nibs are like frozen butter - a whole nuther animal.

  
Thank you. That’s what I need to look for.


My murder weapons of choice have been an old-ish set of jeweler's pliers with both flat and round noses. But then I was used to bending and breaking jump rings and the like. Slow and careful and pad the jaws. Have fun.

. Thanks. I need to find something simple and inexpensive to learn on.

#10 GlenV

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 02:39

Good luck any small plier will work be careful to smooth the contact surfaces I have a small needle holder clamp that works for me a lot of times you can gently push with small wood tool to fix bends and such there is a nice sheaffer pen repair manual on the way back machine site that gives some help and be careful to avoid the iridium at all cost. You can fix many nibs, but not all:( I've damaged more trying to solder cracked nibs....ugh
Regards, Glen

#11 eharriett

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 03:30

Good luck any small plier will work be careful to smooth the contact surfaces I have a small needle holder clamp that works for me a lot of times you can gently push with small wood tool to fix bends and such there is a nice sheaffer pen repair manual on the way back machine site that gives some help and be careful to avoid the iridium at all cost. You can fix many nibs, but not all:( I've damaged more trying to solder cracked nibs....ugh

 

Thank you.  That's the advice I was looking to get!!

 

There's some nylon tipped pliers I have my eye on. 



#12 GlenV

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Posted 19 September 2019 - 21:20

Oh by the way the nail clippers mentioned work really well for badly bent tips you dont close them tightly against the gold just hold loosely and work the bend out
Regards, Glen

#13 Ray-Vigo

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 20:51

Yes - less is more with straightening. The least amount of force you can apply and still get the job done is my approach. I use a thumbnail for simple straightening and a nib block/form for more complex.



#14 SchaumburgSwan

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 21:20

Yes - less is more with straightening. The least amount of force you can apply and still get the job done is my approach. I use a thumbnail for simple straightening and a nib block/form for more complex.

 

+1

 

Go slowly, check every small action and think about what happens!

 

Greetings

Jens


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#15 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 18:33

"Maybe just a tad more . . ." has been on the lips of many, just before that moment of nearly infinite regret.


Exactly.

#16 ac12

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Posted 24 September 2019 - 22:18

Time to begin learning with some pens Ill most likely destroy. But, before I can kill the pens properly, I need the appropriate murder weapon.

What specifically is the right needle nose plier I always see you guys at pen shows working with to adjust/straighten/manipulate/repair nibs?

 

WHY do you want a plier?

What specifically do you think you can do with it?

 

Do you know who the guys at the show are?

I would trust a GOOD nib meister to know what he is doing.

Even so, they know HOW to use a tool properly for a task.

The same tool in another hand, is a disaster waiting to happen.

I would NOT trust the advice of most others.

 

A plier has tremendous leverage.

You have NO feeling with a plier, like you do with your fingers.

If you don't know where and how to grip the nib, you will damage the nib.


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#17 eharriett

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 15:43

So, I am able to do some basic tuning and smoothing with my fingers and I'd like to learn how to do more.

 

Here's what I am curious about.  I'm hearing some people say "no, don't do that."  Yet, when I go to the shows, I see, for example, Binder, Zorn, and Kennedy (just to name three) using pliers of some sort rather than their hands.  I've never seen them use their hands.  I'm not on their level.  But I want to learn. 

 

How else am I supposed to learn without trying and breaking a few?  I recognize forum texts don't convey attitude, so I will say I'm not intending to be sarcastic or mean, but a genuine question :)

 

Are you concerned I will learn on that rare Waterman pink nib? 

 

I'm at least 50% certain RonZ did not suddenly pick up a tool and make it the nib better work.  I'm just asking for the same opportunity to learn from potential mistakes as they did.

 

I ruined about 6 Wearevers and an Eversharp 5th Ave before I ever successfully got a pen resacced.  And I'm only at about 3 out of 4 pens successful with a Snorkel.  I'm trying to learn, and right now, when I have a bin of functional pens with bad nibs on them, I have to decide if that is all left for others and the associated costs, or if this is something I should learn to do myself.

 

So I ask again, with genuine curiosity as I am not seeing the reason I should not try to learn by doing: where is this abundance of caution coming from?



#18 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 16:34

I'm with you, E. Go ahead and 'break' some cheap pens. I'll even send you (shudder!) an Arnold if you insist.

Quite seriously, this is the only way you will learn both nib straightening and/or grinding. This is why we've bought cheap lots of garbage pens: for practice. And if not made perfect, at least writeable.

If you want to learn, learn. You really can.

Go ahead and good luck. Just pad the jaws.

#19 eharriett

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 17:17

I'm with you, E. Go ahead and 'break' some cheap pens. I'll even send you (shudder!) an Arnold if you insist.

Quite seriously, this is the only way you will learn both nib straightening and/or grinding. This is why we've bought cheap lots of garbage pens: for practice. And if not made perfect, at least writeable.

If you want to learn, learn. You really can.

Go ahead and good luck. Just pad the jaws.

Thank you.

 

That's exactly my point :D



#20 awa54

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 03:03

Good quality (hard) bamboo chopsticks cut into 2"-3" lengths with appropriately re-shaped ends (several widths and profiles) are very useful, as is a custom made hardwood (mine is made from ebony cutoffs I got from a luthier) bending block with whatever shaped recesses you feel like making... these will let you isolate bent areas on a dismounted nib and apply more pressure than fingernails (which I use more than the wood tools) when it's needed.

 

I just did a single tine straightening on an 18k Pilot nib that was accomplished by fingernail, it required isolating a bend near the end of the tine and was a bit fussy, but it was still possible with fingers only.  You'll probably want a small needle burnisher too, when you inherit nibs that have been plier-marked (or apply a few yourself) a burnisher can often save the nib from looking like it was mauled.

 

As far as an abundance of caution goes, at least for me destroying vintage writing instruments and later realizing that it wasn't necessary isn't a good feeling... maybe there are pen sociopaths out there who don't feel that way, but I think many of us here respect even fairly humble pens and feel like breaking them to find out what's inside is a shame.  That said, I broke apart a Hero 100 to get the nib out (the center ring was already geeked) and cracked a 60s Pilot section open because it was already cracked beyond repair... I've even murdered a couple vintage pieces over the years, but none of these acts was a high point in my pen repair career.  If you do your experimentation on truly irredemable low-end pens, no tears need be shed, but the problem is that then you'll only have a feel for what it takes to work on low-end pens :(

 

Just FYI, I agree with ac12, pliers are an un-subtle tool when it comes to nib work, which is a pretty subtle pursuit.  I've never used them on a nib and hope that I never need to.


Edited by awa54, 27 September 2019 - 03:19.

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