Hand Made Wooden Pens by Rodney Neep




Fountain Pen Care & Feeding

Using a fountain pen is very special. Sure, we all use a ballpoint pen for notes and scribbles, but for writing letters and personal documents, there is nothing better than a fountain pen with real ink. You can see the difference, and it shows character.

When it is new

A new nib is never "perfect". It needs to be used to make it write ultra smoothly. The more that you use it, the better it gets. The nib end polishes itself to YOUR handwriting style and the angle at which YOU hold the pen. That's why fountain pen owners often don't like other people using their pen.


Filling the pen

There is a kind of "ritual" to filling your fountain pen with ink. That is all a part of the writing experience.

Always use good quality ink!

Fountain pen inks by Parker and Waterman are excellent, and come in a wide range of colours.

Hold the metal barrel and unscrew the body. Place the body safely to one side.
Screwing the black end operates the piston in or out. (Shown here in the out position).
Start with the piston in the down position (towards the nib). Dip the nib into the ink, at least as far as the breather hole, and then twist the mechanism clockwise to pull up the piston.

The reservoir will fill with ink.

Wipe the nib with a soft tissue to remove excess ink on the surface. Then re-assemble the unit into the body.

Changing to a cartridge

For convenience some people prefer to use ink cartridges rather than filling the pen with bottled ink

Cartridges come in two types. Long or short.

Fountain pens from Pens of the Forest use the short type. (Larger pens such as the Prince's pen and "Senior" versions can also take the long cartridge).

All cartridges have an international standard fitting. So you can use replacements from Parker, Waterman, etc.

When fitting a cartridge or the ink reservoir HOLD THE NIB. (A tissue between finger and thumb will help prevent getting ink on your fingers). If you hold the metal barrel then sometimes the nib and its feeder might push out of the barrel when you push in the new cartridge. That isn't good!
When pushing in a new cartridge you will find it to be fairly stiff. It takes a pretty firm push, and you will hear it click into place. The most common cause of ink leaks is when the cartridge (or reservoir) is not fully pushed all the way into place. It needs to be an airtight and leakproof seal!

Cleaning a fountain pen

It happens to all of us sooner or later. The pen dries out, and then the ink will not flow. If you know that you are not going to be using your pen for a month or so, then the best preventative cure is to flush it out with warm water.

If the ink just plain refuses to flow, then the pen needs to be cleaned out. The liquid ink has dried out leaving the solids in the nib and the feed. Remove the body, and the cartridge or reservoir, and run the business end of the pen under warm water for a while. You may need to leave it to soak for a while. Then use the piston ink reservoir to fill it with warm water, and squirt the water out with the piston. You may need to do this many times, until the water comes out virtually clear. See if the water will flow out just by wrapping a tissue around the nib. Try writing with the water. It will actually write "weak ink". Keep cleaning it until there are no more traces of ink.

Nib Replacement

Nibs are very personal things. Having said that, the standard medium nib is suitable for the majority of people.

If you have a special nib requirement then go to a pen shop and see a specialist. There you will be able to try out different nibs. They will then fit a nib which is right for you. You prefer an italic nib? Well, there are lots of different types of italic nibs! That is why I never stock italic nibs. 

It is worth noting that many shops that sell fountain pens are not necessarily specialists in nibs. They are "box shifters". Those shops will often try to sell you a complete nib replacement unit complete with its feed, (which are specific to certain pen makers), and those are very expensive indeed compared to the price of a nib! A nib can be quite cheap, and can be fitted in under thirty seconds.

All fountain pens from Pens of the Forest come with a medium nib. (And even those are not quite all exactly the same!). I am sorry, but I do not provide a nib changing service, even with a new pen. You really need to visit a specialist pen shop to try out the nibs if you want something that is exactly suited to your specific needs.



Copyright 2008 Rodney Neep All Rights Reserved