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Which Extra Fine Nib Is Really Extra Fine?


Timotheus
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It is common knowledge that many nibs that call themselves Extra Fine, are not Extra Fine at all. My experience with the five pens with an EF nib that I own:

 

Kaweko Dia2 (steel nib): OK, really EF

 

Lamy 2000: varies considerably with the type of paper: in some cases indeed EF, in other cases definitely F or even F/M

 

Pelikan M600: a joke; rather M, on some types of paper even B

 

Rotring Art Pen: OK, really EF

 

TWSBI Classic: varies with the type of paper: sometimes indeed EF, but most of the time rather F

 

I have no Japanese or Chinese pens, so I can't judge about those.

 

What is your experience?

 

Italix Captain's Commission F – Italix Parson's Essential F – Kaweco Dia2 EF – Pilot Custom 74 SF – Sailor 1911 Simply Black F – TWSBI Classic EF – Rotring Altro F

 

“As for the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’: You may definitely hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’”

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The finest nib I own is in my Pilot Falcon SEF, followed by my Pilot Penmanship, then either my Pilot Vanishing Point EF or my Platinum 3776 SF. The EF on my Wing Sung 601 would fit in with these guys.

 

My fatest EFs are my Bock EF (on a Karas Kustoms Fountain K Mini - presumably the same nib as is used by Kaweco) and my Lamy Al Star EF. My Visconti Homo Sapiens EF would be in with these guys, maybe just a tad finer.

 

Between group 1 and group 2 are my TWSBI Eco EF, Nemosine Singularity EF.

 

I have a Knox #5 EF nib that I haven't used in so long that I can't remember where it fits.

Edited by LizEF
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Yes I find modern Pelikan, MB to make Fat nibs..........fatter than semi-vintage or vintage.

Can't say that about Lamy....didn't really check my '90 Persona vs a Safari B (that I gave away to hook someone into fountain pens)....was not of much interest and the Safari wasn't much used. Regret only now not checking the '50's Lamy 27. I'd not noticed it being fat...nor any of my other vintage German pens.

..at the back of the post will be Ron Zorn's tolerance found at Sheaffer.

 

First every company has it's very own standards. All companies standards overlap each other. This BS about 1.0....will have tolerance between at least 1.1 and 0.9...in 1.2 and 0.8 'measured' nibs will also have slop.

 

Some of those standards has to do with which ink the company makes..................some have to do with the era the pen was made.

Some had to do with not mixing up their brand loyal customers....back in the day of One Man, One Pen....and that one bought a new pen every 7-10 years only.

 

Parker's corner pens shop market survey showed or they showed their customers a wider nib than Sheaffer...........they did not what their customer making a gregarious mistake and buying a Sheaffer so they had a wider nib, so the salesman could push....wide wet line.....if the One Brand customer came in wanting a thin line of course Sheaffer was shown.....it was a thinner F than Parker's fat F.

Each company made inks for their nibs. Sheaffer a wetter ink than Parker is my guess.

Really missing Sheaffer inks so can't test.

 

 

Pelikan makes a dry ink, so makes a wet nib..........back before 1998 Pelikan nibs were at least a half width narrower than now................and the EF was the narrowest made in the West.

Waterman who made a wet ink, made a narrow nib; narrower than the rest outside EF where Pelikan was then king.

 

What inks are you using for your 600 that makes it so fat..............is fat....but what pens do you consider a M or B........that you compare the Pelikan EF too.

Really you should only buy Pelikans....and modern ones at that, then you'd not have such problems. :P

 

I have a chart....that is '80's 90's in Japanese nibs are not even listed............they only got mainstream in the late 90's. Conway Stewart was real, real fat Next was Parker fatter than Sheaffer, fatter than Pelikan. Then Pelikan had a slightly thinner 800 size (they no longer have.). Thinnest was Waterman......outside the EF.

 

Now due to the ignorant ball point cross overs no willing to hold a fountain pen like one and not like a ball point or roller ball and having jackhammer hands, Pelikan went over to semi-nail in the 400/600, nail in the 800, and a double kugal/ball with a fatter tip so it could be held vertically and not bent into a Pretzel.....................Fat and Blobby...................buy semi-vintage and vintage for real sizing.

 

A Pelikan 200's nib should be still a '82-97 era EF wide. My EF is narrow, but I did ask the shop to seek out their narrowest nib........it's easier to go to a B&M and do such....then one don't get the fat end of tolerance.

I made a major mistake. I'd gone in to my B&M and tested the MB Woolf M on their paper.....always bring your own paper, and the M was the B that everyone said it was. :( At home I had better paper and it was only a M. :headsmack:

so I had the nibs swapped..............what I didn't say was I wanted middle of tolerance or had I thought 'knowing' MB was now fat....the narrow side of tolerance.

What I got is a Fat B, that was on the wide side of tolerance .....a BB.

 

If you swap in nibs on a new pen....be precise to where in the tolerance you want your nib....I wanted actually a B-M....not really a B............I just had not tested enough M's&B's at the shop to have a real idea how

 

 

Western nibs are designed to be written in flowing cursive. Japanese nibs which are miss marked @ one width narrow are designed to print a tiny printed script.

If you print.....Go Japanese.

If you wish to make others use a magnifying glass, go Japanese.

It depends on whom you listen too. One fine Japanese poster said Sailor was fatter than Pilot.

Others disagree.

Some say Platinum is thinnest....

Why get waste your time with a western EF...unless you scribble, when a Japanese EF = XXF western is even thinner.......... The only way to go if one prints.

 

Japanese inks are from what I read.....on the whole wet....because of their narrow nibs..........just like Waterman inks were wet because one Waterman was considered before Japanese, a narrow nib.

 

What sort of paper are you going to use???????? A major question. It does matter.

 

If you were to use your skinny nib on poor paper with a dry ink like Pelikan 4001 a once very good black....it will be a dark gray if you use poor paper.

There are good French papers....Rhodia and Triomphe...they will make your nib write narrower.

Herbin is IMO too much a shading ink for an EF..........Waterman is a French company and Ink. That would be your wet ink for your EF. But if you want it narrow as possible.....and are using a good paper then Pelikan 4001 BB would be a real good ink.

 

Tolerance..........= one can have an EF nib that is as fat as a skinny F..........or even to the other side of tolerance....an EF = to an XXF. F=M, M=B and so on.

Ron Zorn tolerance

Sheaffer used a dial indicator nib gauge for measuring nib sizes. The nib was inserted into the gauge, and the size read off of the dial. A given size being nibs that fell within a given range. What is listed below were the ranges given on a gauge that I saw in the Sheaffer service center prior to being closed in March 2008.

Measurements are in thousandths of an inch.

XXF = 0.010 - 0.013
XF = 0.013 - 0.018
F = 0.018 - 0.025
M = 0.025 - 0.031
Broad* = 0.031 - 0.050
Stub = 0.038 - 0.050

*there was some overlap on the gauge. May be 0.035 - 0.050

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.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

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

 

 

 

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As you have discovered XF is a range, As BoBo stated. Company dependent. It's like teal. If you want a specific width get one ground to your version of XF.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Custom-ground nibs are the finest. Take your pen to a nib technician at a pen show and tell them to grind it to a needlepoint. This can be done on practically any pen of your choosing, as long as it has good tipping.

 

Also, XF as in super-extra-really-really-scratchy but microscopic fine? Or a daily-user-smooth extra fine?

 

I would recommend a vintage pen (there are some Parkers and Duo-Point Sheaffers out there with super-duper fine nibs) or a Platinum 3776 UEF. Go the Platinum route if you're not in the vintage world yet, and go the vintage route if you're feeling lucky. Any nib (short of a damaged one) can be ground to your liking of XXF, vintage or modern.

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Waiting on Dill. He's our resident EF nib nut.

 

I don't recommend the platinum 3776 UEF unless you have a very specific need for a psychotically fine line. Like, writing in the margins of a bible or for writing in lab notebooks with trash paper. the UEF is definitely an extremely toothy nib, and you will never see any shading or sheen or shimmer.

 

My UEF sees a ton of use as my layout pen in my bullet journal and in lab notebooks, but I don't think it's a particularly pleasant thing to use. a Japanese EF or a pilot PO nib are about as fine as you can go in a daily writer.

Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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My Pilot74 ef, Preppy ef, Pilot plumix ef are real extra fine.

 

Be prepared for a slightly dry writing experience out of the box.

 

They work best on absorbent papers. On Rhodia, they can be thrashy with some inks.

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It's kind of amazing to see a question about EF nibs being framed around the fact of zero experience with Asian (specifically Japanese) nibs. The epicenter of EF, as it were.

"When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

~ Benjamin Franklin

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Thanks, Bo Bo, for this very detailed and illuminating exposition, which I do appreciate, and which I'm sure many will treasure.

 

Of course there are many kinds of considerations, traditions etc. that should be taken into account. But in my opinion:

 

1. a Pelikan M 600 EF (let's stick with the Pelikans) should under identical circumstances (same ink, same paper etc.) always produce a finer line than a Pelikan M 600 F;

 

2. two Pelikans M 600 EF should under identical circumstances always produce a line of identical (or at least very similar) width.

 

Neither is the case, as I discovered during a tryout in two well-stocked shops. And

 

3. the line produced by a a Pelikan M 600 EF should be very similar to that produced by a Pelikan M 800 EF; and this is not the case either. In this case, the fact that the nib is different doesn't justify in my opinion a clear difference in line width. The company is the same, and a company should have predictable standards, which in the case of Pelikan are clearly lacking. The lesson I have learned: never order a Pelikan Souverain online, because it's impossible to know what kind of nib the Pelikan you'll receive will have.

Italix Captain's Commission F – Italix Parson's Essential F – Kaweco Dia2 EF – Pilot Custom 74 SF – Sailor 1911 Simply Black F – TWSBI Classic EF – Rotring Altro F

 

“As for the qualities of which you may know, ‘These qualities lead to dispassion, not to passion; to being unfettered, not to being fettered; to shedding, not to accumulating; to modesty, not to self-aggrandizement; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to entanglement; to aroused persistence, not to laziness; to being unburdensome, not to being burdensome’: You may definitely hold, ‘This is the Dhamma, this is the Vinaya, this is the Teacher’s instruction.’”

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I find pelikan and lamy to be rather inconsistent on the line width of their gold nibs. They're always good writers, but I've seen an F lamy 2000 write like a B. my EF is baaaaaaaaaarely an EF.

 

If you want a fine line, get a japanese F or EF. a pilot custom 74/91 EF or platinum 3776 EF or sailor 1911/pro gear EF will all scratch that itch nicely. I usually go for a japanese fine (I have a F base on my stella90s, custom 74, SF custom 91, F justus, and a FA 823) to an extra fine, but can't deny a satisfyingly smooth pilot 14k EF in my E95s

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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Kaweko Dia2 (steel nib): OK, really EF ... I have no Japanese or Chinese pens, so I can't judge about those ... What is your experience?

I can confirm that the Dia2 EF really is an EF, though a Western one and not a Japanese one. And's its pretty darn good for an under-10 Euro nib.

 

The line width of my Dia2 EF is about the same as that of my Sailor Pro Gear MF.

 

To add another ingredient: my son has a vintage '48 De La Rue with accountant's nib, the nib of which looks like a needle, writes a needle-thin line, yet is totally smooth and nicely wet. I can do signatures with that pen on bad paper, no problem. It's the only super-narrow pen that allows me to write neatly and effortlessly. Many of us seem to require a certain range between minimum- and maximum-line width that allows us to write pleasantly and neatly, and so do I. But that pen is the exception. It's ouside my range, yet it works. So it's not just line width, it's the characterisctics of the nib.

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2. two Pelikans M 600 EF should under identical circumstances always produce a line of identical (or at least very similar) width........................it is stated here often, two same width nibs coming off the assembly line back to back, because of tolerance slop....will not be the same. That goes for any company.

 

If one hunts hard enough, one can find some folks saying the same about the super skinny Japanese nibs...............some are 'Fat'.. :o ...well fat for Japanese EF or EEF.

Either all the super skinny nibs are close enough....but it's seldom mentioned those companies also have their very own standards and tolerance.

Nope all I read is a fat nib company makes fat nibs :yikes: :( :wallbash: ....when everyone knew they now make fat nibs.

 

Mostly the problem is that folks are comparing cursive Western to skinnier than marked printing Japanese nibs.

 

It's very odd no one complains, my B is too skinny.........or my B is too fat. :doh:

 

Is simple....just buy one company, then you will be within that company's standard tolerance. Yep, the fat or skinny or rare in the middle of tolerance nib.....will be closer together than a company that makes to a wider or a narrower standard.

 

Mixing apples and pineapples actually......Parker was always wider than Sheaffer so folks would not make a big mistake and buy a same width Sheaffer....had Parker been so foolish as to make a Sheaffer width nib.

 

Yes, I've complained a lot about the big and fat double kugal/ball; thicker tipped Pelikan nib. You won't have that problem with the 200, or the semi-vintage and vintage nibs. They also have a nice clean line.

Besides which you can get semi-flex nibs.

 

So buy a true Pelikan EF....a gold plated 200's nib (steel un-plated is cheaper) . A '82-97 gold nib......both of them are nice springy regular flex.

Not semi-nail of the 400/600 or a nail of the 800***. The 1000 is a regular flex....now, there are those I think were made by Bock that were semi-flex.

Someone with such a nib should chime in to say if it is as fat and blobby as a modern 1000.

My OBB 1000 is wider than my pre'98 small 600's OBB.

Different era.

 

***Only interested in the real nice springy regular flex of the W. Germany 800....not the fat blobby modern post '98 nail. The old nibs have a cleaner line also.

 

So buy better nibs for your 600....different era.

A semi-flex EF from the '50-65 era. A EF be it gold from'82-97..or a 200's steel nib .............then you will have the true EF....they are @ half a sidth narrower than modern.

Until I had my fat and blobby BB made into a 1.0 stub, I often had a semi-flex B in it. :notworthy1: :puddle:

 

I have mentioned often a chart I have that was made in the '80-90's in no Japanese nibs are listed. Pelikan made a narrower EF than Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman... :yikes: .... (once back at the dawn of time, we use to have flame wars here, with the narrow Waterman fans looking down their noses at the fat change your nib Pelikans...........................that stopped with it was found out that Pelikan made a skinner EF than Waterman.

Waterman was pre-Japanese for narrow nibs....when Japanese finally came in....Waterman's brags stopped............in Narrow European was still Fat for Japanese.

 

It appears about a decade ago, More people had started with half as expensive....cheap Japanese pens than Waterman's cheaper pens.....so those folks had their eyes Calibrated Mark 2. So Euro will always be too fat.

Being B&W TV I had my eye calibrated Euro/American Mark 1.....so Japanese will always be too skinny.

 

 

Then Pelikan was thinner than Parker or Sheaffer (And had two standards; the 400 and the skinner 800...both still fatter than Waterman outside the EF).................not now of course.......

 

.......Pelikan went over to making you don't got to learn how to hold a fountain pen fat and blobby nibs for ball point users. Harder less bendable nibs....cut repair costs immensely. Just be glad they still make the fine springy regular flex 200's nibs.

Yep, Modern Pelikan fat nibs are the wished for at all cost Butter Smooth too................if you don't get Baby Bottom.

 

Like MB and Lamy.....Pelikan has a deserved reputation of now making a fat nib.....you knew that when you bought the 600. (Once MB made a nice narrow semi-flex nib....as narrow as any other German pen in the '50's.)

 

Skinny nibs are found on Japanese pens.........a well known fact.....and that they run a size narrower than marked is also well known.

 

One is complaining my F don't write as narrow as my EF......or what ever Japanese nib you are comparing a properly size marked European nib too. Nope EF don't write as narrow as XXF.

Sigh.....yep, Pelikan now makes fat nibs....so does MB.....Lamy is not skinny either. Call that German nibs.

 

Don't know about modern Waterman......but some fella says Parker and Sheaffer now makes or always made skinny nibs (if so, once Pelikan was narrower) . So European Waterman/Parker make skinny nibs.....close to Japanese according to someone gathering info on that...............close to Aurora. The skinniest Euro nib....still half a width wider than Japanese.

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.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

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

 

 

 

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if you write on Rhodia, especially the harder and non-absorbent side of the paper, with the correct inks, you could get a rather (extra) fine line with western EF nibs.

 

If you write on rather absorbent and grainy papers, japanese extra fine should give you that real extra fine line.

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The numbers for nib size that Bobo quotes are the 1973 Sheaffer nib standards. You'll find them pinned at the top of the repair forum. I don't know if Sheaffer changed the standard after that or not. That was the only standard we found when visiting the Sheaffer Service Center back in 2008 before it was closed, and in the stuff that was sent to the designated service center in Philadelphia in April 2008. I spent 3 days helping to unload and sort the pallets of stuff that was sent from Ft Madison.

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I quote Ron's info :notworthy1: :thumbup: .....even if out of date or not (it is the only info I've stumbled onto that shows everything with one look)..........it shows the the size of tolerance that a nib can fall into and still be X size.

A fat F can exactly = a skinny M.....and if it's 1-1000th of an inch into tolerance....one can still not tell the difference between fat F and skinny M.

 

With the overlap of company standards............the change of era sizing like with Pelikan.

Nib size becomes horseshoe close or hand grenade close.....only. Even with in just that company, there is a lot of slop in tolerance.

Real skinny, skinny, middling, somewhat wide and real wide............and that's about it, no matter who made it, when or how it is marked.

 

If you are OCD and size bothers you....you can have all your pens ground exactly to your very exact own standard. That will only be your standard, no one else's.

Can't get the folks here to agree on a standard either.

Then with all that trouble and expense of having it ground exactly...............different ink and paper will make the nib be fat....again.

Oddly, no one cares if one's B is a bit fat, or if one's M is a bit fat...............it's only my skinny nib is not skinny enough.

And it is not Japanese....which all knew Western are not the real skinny nibs, before they bought it.

 

Nope don't see here, my Sailor is too fat....and some fine Japanese poster said that....then none said nay to that.....now some do say no...........sigh, my Pilot is not as skinny as my Platinum.

 

Why???

Or is that in the Japanese sub-section, a flame war to which Japanese nib is the skinniest and which is too fat to buy???????

Surely one is skinner than the other....in they are different companies with their own standards.

 

And the advice to have one's nib made XXXXF.....well, do make sure it's ground butter smooth. :bunny01: :happyberet:

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

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.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

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

 

 

 

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It is common knowledge that many nibs that call themselves Extra Fine, are not Extra Fine at all.

How do you judge or assess? What is the objective criteria you use?

 

I have no Japanese or Chinese pens, so I can't judge about those.

Then perhaps they'd be a good start. Get one each of Pilot, Platinum and Sailor pens fitted with EF nibs, and see how they compare with what you 'know' as Extra Fine.

 

What is your experience?

Japanese nibs are better at delivering the line width grade I expect of EF and F nibs.

 

I've taken and posted a few photos recently of the lines left by various F and EF nibs through the loupe I have, if you want to see how they measure.

 

Edit:

 

What is the outcome that you actually want to achieve, or which is the piece of critical knowledge that you want? If you want a nib that is Really Extra Fine, just get a Platinum #3776 pen with an EF nib and be done with it; there's little need to discuss the rest. You aren't going to get a comprehensive overview across 'major' pen manufacturers by asking the question here, although I remember seeing references in various other threads on FPN that linked to comparison charts pen dealers/retailers have put together.

Edited by A Smug Dill

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Mike Masuyama is well known for his 0.3, 0.2 and Ulra Extra Fine grinds. Send him your pen of choice, tell him how you'd like the nib to perform, and let him work his magic. This would save the cost of additional pen purchases.

But at the same time, someone has to keep Pilot, Platinum and Sailor in business. :) WhooHoo! MORE pens!! If you go for that sort of thing

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Looking around at the pens on my desk. The only ones in action that truly write like an EF . . .

Pilot 912 PO nib - deffo EF
Platinum Preppy 0.2mm - deffo EF
Platinum 3776 F - writes like an EF
Moonman M2 - deffo EF

The remainder say "EF" yet write like "F" - which kind of suits me. :)

PS. If anyone owns a Lamy and wants a true EF nob for it . . . the 0.2mm Preppy nibs fit and work a treat. My Lamy Aion is loving this swapover B)
(Sadly the Lamy nibs do not fit the Preppy feeds so you'll have a Preppy out of action for each Lamy you swap :unsure: )

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