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I have seen many professional nib grinders such as Mike Masuyama, John Mottishaw, Nobuyoshi Nagahara (Rest In peace), use some kind of rotary bench machine that has various attachements (diamond wheels etc). I would like to know where can one buy a similar machine, how is it called and what attachments are they using. The reason I am asking, is because I want to upgrade me nib grinding-smoothing setup from a simple (and dangerous due to high rpm) dremel tool, to something a bit more professional and perhaps safer. Here is Mike Masuyama with the machine that I am reffering to

 

Thanks in advance,

Nestor Vassiliou

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Mike's machine is custom-made, while his grinding compound is from Sailor. I don't know how much Mike's cost him, but Pen&Message's nib grinder said his machine, which he commissioned from a company that makes kitchen appliances, cost him as much as a car, and the grinding compound he has also cost him a small fortune to make. You're probably better off finding a less-abrasive grit for your Dremel or something that can lower the voltage to reduce the RPMs.

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Here ...

 

https://www.gesswein.com/

 

… a wide variety of spindles, arbors, mandrels and fobs, including soft and hard wood fobs, are also available along with a large selection of polishing paste and compound from 1/2 micron and up.

 

Suppliers to the mold making industry, where precision polishing is essential, should be able to provide any tools and accessories necessary for quality nib work.

 

YMMV

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Not every professional uses a custom machine like Mikes. Both the Kennedys and Richard Binder use a Dremel with a foot pedal, and always have. They have a special holder that they made to hold the Dremel in a fixed angle and position. I use an attachment that holds the hand piece of a flex shaft tool for me. What I think is important is to be able to have the tool held in a steady position so that you have both hands free, to be able to vary the speed easily without using your hands, and to be able to select the grit that you use and change it easily.

 

Leta who worked in the nib department at Sheaffer used a large motor 1/4 hp motor with a single half inch diameter shaft and three wheels mounted on it with a custom made mandrel. A coarse diamond wheel, an abrasive impregnated rubber wheel, and a 2" or so in diameter hard felt wheel for polishing. I don't know if I have a picture of that or not. I'm not sure where I have the pictures from our visit to the Sheaffer service center before it closed.

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Not every professional uses a custom machine like Mikes. Both the Kennedys and Richard Binder use a Dremel with a foot pedal, and always have. They have a special holder that they made to hold the Dremel in a fixed angle and position. I use an attachment that holds the hand piece of a flex shaft tool for me. What I think is important is to be able to have the tool held in a steady position so that you have both hands free, to be able to vary the speed easily without using your hands, and to be able to select the grit that you use and change it easily.

 

Leta who worked in the nib department at Sheaffer used a large motor 1/4 hp motor with a single half inch diameter shaft and three wheels mounted on it with a custom made mandrel. A coarse diamond wheel, an abrasive impregnated rubber wheel, and a 2" or so in diameter hard felt wheel for polishing. I don't know if I have a picture of that or not. I'm not sure where I have the pictures from our visit to the Sheaffer service center before it closed.

Thank you for the information, they help me out a lot :) . I too have a rotary tool (like dremel different brand though) which I fix in place with a bench vise. The reason why I asked to learn more about these bench machines is that my rotary tool has a minimum speed of 15000 rpm. So using an emery disc on 15000 rpm is a very bad idea for the nib tipping material. I did manage to grind a rounded ball nib into an architect point, but I believe I was lucky. Next time I may be not. Now I don't know what attachments, Mr Binder uses to grind and then polish nibs (probably not emery discs), but I doubt he does any nib work at 15000 rpm which is my case. This is why I wanted to get something more professional. Because I believe(correct me if I am wrong, I am trying to learn from you, knowing that you are a much respected professional) that I need something much slower in order to do any kind of grinding and polishing, without risking removing or breaking off the tipping material. What attachements would you recommend for a dremel? Also can one do any nib smoothing using rotary tools with fine abrassive wheels? Or is micromesh and lapping film a necessity for smoothing the tip?

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You do need to slow things down. I think that even 1725 rpm or 3450 is a bit fast, and often have mine going very slow. You can remove an awful lot of iridium from a nib very quickly if you aren't careful, have the abrasive going too fast, or use an abrasive that is too coarse. The grinder gets you in the ballpark of what you want, and yes, finishing is done by hand with micromesh and lapping film. Go slow, you can always take more off if you need to, but its expensive to repair if you take too much off.

 

If yours is a single speed grinder you should be able to use a foot pedal speed control to vary the speed of the motor. These don't draw much current, so a light duty pedal should work. Do a search for a flex shaft tool foot pedal on Ebay to see what's available in your part of the world. They will have the proper grounded plug and sockets.

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