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Nib Grinding - Tuning Information



Nestorvass

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I have really gotten myself into fountain pen repair, in the last two years. I have spent money on books, tools, parts etc. But what fascinates me the most is nib tuning and repairing. What I mean by that is any work that is done on the nib, such as crack welding, retipping, polishing, smoothing and grinding. Especially grinding. However I struggle to find any information, regarding nib grinding. No videos, guides on what machinery is used, where can one get such machinery, what polishing compounds or wheels are used, nothing at all.

I am truly desperate because I really want to learn how to do this (I consider it even as a profession) and I have no access to any useful information at all. Does anyone know any books, websites, pdf's, anything that has information on how to do various grinds. What wheels-bits are used, what compounds, where can one get these...Anything at all would help me a lot :) !

 

P.S. I am not interested in using stones etc, these I know how to use them, plus I find them inconvenient . I am talking about methods that require power tools, such as dremels, or other custom (or not) grinding machines, that get the job done fast.

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  • Nestorvass

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  • Karmachanic

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  • Chmara

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  • BaronWulfraed

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Good luck on your search! Welding gold nibs and retyping are far, far beyond my capabilities. I use stones to grind my personal nibs but using a Dremmel should be very similar-- lots of YouTube videos open that.

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova

 

 

 

 

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You asked a similar question in January, and received advice. You know from your own research that there are few nib grinders in this world. That being the case, where is the vast repository of information you seek on the on the web, and in books, going to come from?

 

Did you get a foot pedal? You were given advice on where to find compounds. Have you tried them?

 

Apply the hand grinding methods to shape nibs to a wheel. Learn by doing.

 

Go to pen shows and watch qualified grinders a work.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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I did make one, was quite simple to do so, I study physics so I do know a thing or two about electronics. Yes I got a dremel with a flexible shaft. I did all that. Still that is not what I ask for. What I need to know is the grit of the different types of wheels that are required, plus I would like to make a custom machine to do the job like the one Mr. Mike Masuyama uses and I don't know what is required to make such a machine. What Motor, shaft, mandrels etc. This is the sort of information I cannot find online. As for the pen shows, I have previously mentioned, that I live in Greece. There are no pen shows or anything pen related here. I would love to visit one, however paying a few hundred (even thousand) dollars to visit London or the US, which are the pen shows most well known nibmeisters go to, is not possible. I am 21 and a university student. I can't financially support such a trip. All I can ask (for now), is help from fellow fountain pen enthusiasts, such as yourself. I am sorry if I keep asking questions, but I am trying to get information. Unfortunately the only place where I can get such information is here.

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Nestor:

 

I understand your situation and interest. Even though I am in the USA I have some of the same questions -- and some good answers came from Honeybadgers here.

 

Here's the thing about Dremel style tools, variable speed (foot pedal if you are coordinated) is valuable in creating a comfort level when you are down to fine grinding and polishing. Standard Dremel bits can work -- but run fast create deeper cuts and heat than you may want. The abrasives on the bits are variable and inconsistent --especially if you obtain these from various makers from Asia as found on Amazon.

 

The flex shaft, at least for me, has not been as valuable as putting the tool in a stable solid holder as you might find plans for on the Richard Binder site. This allows you to work on the nib, rather than worrying whether you can hold the wholoe tool at the same angle for 2 sides of a nib to be ground.

 

Although more expensive than Amazon -- I have found that bits (and some tools) supplied by jewelry tool specialists, along with various grades of abrasives and jeweler's rouges offer a consistency not available in the big hobby kits found in hardware stores and on-line. Since simmitery is essential the stability and consistency of materials become more important than first expense on the cutting tools and materials.

 

And, it will take a lot of nibs to test and try to develop professional level skills -- but you'll never get there if you do not try, fail, fix and change untill you comfortably get what you want.

 

I know I will never get there -- and the idea of fixing the welded portion of the tips is well beyond what I can afford to try. ANd I must add, your first few tries will NOT be a thing of beauty -- but may still work OK for you.

Edited by Chmara
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Given that there are respected nib grinders using dremels I suggest you learn to master nib grinding with this readily available device. Develop your skills and learn what works for you. Get different wheels. Try different compounds. Gain experience.

You don't know how to fly a Piper Cub but you want to pilot an F-18. Slow down!

Edited by Karmachanic

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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I thank you both for your answers, but still even with the dremel and the foot pedal and all that. I still don't know what bits nibmeisters use. What type grit etc. I don't want to use something that will be too harsh on my nib. Also I don't know when I am supposed to use polishing compound. Is it on the grinding wheels, or in the hard felt wheels. This is why I created this topic in the first place. Not so much about the grinding machine itself, but mostly for what is supposed to be used on it.

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BaronWulfraed

Polishing compound (rouge, etc.) are used on felt wheels... The compound itself is the abrasive, so one does not add it to an already abrasive surface.

 

I'd probably be afraid to try any Dremel grinding /stone/ (unless my goal is to remove the tipping from a nib). The 461/462/463 are abrasive impregnated /rubber/ polishing bits and should be less aggressive.

 

The silicon carbide stones are probably the coarsest I'd touch -- they are meant for glass/tile and non-ferrous metals.

 

Hmm, wonder if one could cut disks out of an abrasive mylar sheet and mount them over a cut-off wheel to get a flat surface of very fine abrasive...

Edited by BaronWulfraed
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There's no shame in grinding nibs manually. A good quality, 1000 grit diamond sharpening plate from a company like EZE-LAP is inexpensive and relatively easy to use. It's what I use for grinding nibs when I'm not grinding italics.

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The pricipals involved here are the same as with any polishing and grinding process, as are the tools and materials.

 

Read up on the grinding and polishing methods used by jewelers and machinists. Check out the products available in jewelry supply catalogs.

 

What the others are trying to tell you is that the few experts that there are are primarily self-taught. They tried different methods and materials until they found what works for them. And they dont all use the same approach.

 

I suggest you start by trying the abrasive-impregnated rubber wheels that Baron suggested, buy a pile of very cheap, Chinese nibs from Ebay and start experimenting until you get a feel for what youre doing.

 

Youre looking for a shortcut but there isnt one. Nobodys written the book on this yet. Youre going to have to learn by doing. The nibs you ruin at first are likely to teach you a lot more than you will learn here.

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