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Scratchy Nib Tuning Checklist

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I searched for similar threads, but most are too old and with too few comments.


I'm thinking of having a general checklist to tune a scratchy nib, for those who just need some adjustment (smoothing etc).


This is mostly the case when starting to use a pen/nib for the first time.


Here's what I have, feel free to add more.


1) Use a Loupe to check for tine misalignment.


2) Align the tines, gently. Be careful to take note if a tine needs to be bent down, or the other bent up.


3) Test the nib after each adjustment. Repeat step 2 if required, else go to step 4.


4) Before going to Micromesh, CHANGE THE INK. Sometimes all the nib needs is wetter ink. This is especially the case with EF or Japanese Fine nibs.


5) Use the Micromesh ONLY if the above step doesn't solve the issue.

Edited by proton007

In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

- Alan Watts

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This seems to cover at least some of the same ground as the thread Five bad things that happen to new pens.




"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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First I would rule out the paper by testing on known good paper.

I have paper that creates such a scratchy feel that I will NOT write with my F nib pens on that paper.

Switch to a different paper, and the pen is just fine.


I would also do a line test in the beginning.

Draw lines L-to-R and R-to-L to see which way you feel the scratchiness. That tells me which side of the tip is causing the scratchiness.

And draw lines top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top. This tells me if there is a profile issue.


If it is a used pen, you could also have nib damage of various sorts that is causing the scratchiness.

The damage has to be repaired or mitigated before going any further.


Sometimes going to a dryer ink will help, especially with F and XF nibs.

I've switched from Waterman to Cross (Pelikan) and a few pens have smoothened out.

The trick is to get a nice pool of ink under the tip to lubricate the tip as it moves over the paper.

I think the dryer Cross ink acts like grease in staying under the XF nibs better than the wet Waterman ink.


Speaking of ink. If there is insufficient ink under the nib (a dry pen) to provide lubrication, the nib will be in greater contact with the paper and feel scratchy. So adequate ink flow is another factor.

Edited by ac12

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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Chi Town,

Thanks for the link!

I hope there's a permanent place for it, and if there already is, its even better.



Those are some ideas I hadn't considered, thanks for highlighting them. Most of the times the issues can be solved without even considering micromesh.

Edited by proton007

In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

- Alan Watts

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Very good info.


But remember that all nibs need not write butter smooth. Many noobies over react to 'butter smooth'.


Sometimes good and smooth the next step down is enjoyable and one don't slide off slick paper. There should be no feeling of drag. Tooth is a bit different.



Then some folks like touch of tooth....or certain papers give that. Touch of tooth was best describe to me from a number of posts on such threads as the pencil lead feeling.Not Scratchy.


When one has enough nibs one can enjoy when and if one wishes, butter smooth, good and smooth or toothy as one wishes....and what you want for this or that paper.

As stated some papers dance best with different smoothnesses of the nib and lubrication of an ink.


I don't think all nibs should be the same wetness....a wet pen can do dry inks. A dry pen, wet inks.

Right now I have a dry nibbed semi-flex (most semi-flex and 'flexi' nibs write wetter because of ease of tine spread) and I have a wetter ink in it and it's gee that's smooth. On other inks it's less 'smooth' but no thought at all ever of need to make the nib wetter, in it still writes good and smooth. No way would I adjust that nib.


Part of the trick though is to have enough pens, with differing nibs, so you dictate what ink, paper makes that nib dance at midnight.

You don't want all your Scotches to taste alike, nor do you need all your nibs to be the same.


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.



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The loupe doesn't always tell the whole story. I have a P21 whose nib must be misaligned in order to write smoothly.

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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