How to Prevent Fountain Pen Nib Breaks, and What to Do if it Happens to You
A fountain pen is an investment. It is a product and a tool of value, and like any valued investment, it should be well maintained and protected. In reality, however, accidents happen. Fountain pen nibs are breakable, a devastation that can happen simply from applying too much pressure during use. To give your fountain pen nib the best chance possible for a long, and productive existence, follow the tips below. If you find yourself the victim of a break, we have some tips for recovery as well.
Top Reasons for a fountain pen nib break:
- Applying too much direct pressure. Remember that fountain pen writing requires an element of finesse. If you apply too much pressure with your hand or wrist, you may damage the delicate tines, or snap the nib completely.
- Use of a poor-quality notebook. With low-grade paper, tiny particles can collect inside the ink channel in the top of the feed, interrupting the flow of ink to the nib. We recommend Rhodia, Leuchtturm, Clairefontaine, or Fabriano. All are extremely high quality notebooks.
- Poorly aligned tines. If you recently cleaned or reassembled your pen, or if it was adjusted by someone else, it’s possible that the tiny tines may have become misaligned, making them susceptible to a break.
- Use of poor-quality ink. Ink is to a fountain pen as motor oil is to a sports car. If you choose poor quality ink, it can leave a residue, solidify, or otherwise damage the internal mechanism of your fountain pen. We recommend Herbin or Noodler’s Ink for a worry-free, high quality ink experience.
- Long-term air exposure. If you left your fountain pen uncapped for a prolonged period of time, it’s possible exposure to air dried the contents, clogging the nib and causing damage that led to a break.
How to Prevent a Break
- Invest in a nib tuning. Before you begin using your new fountain pen, have it tuned by a nibmeister. These professionals know how to diagnose potential manufacturing issues and adjust the tines, if necessary, before heavy use to prevent a future break.
- Clean your pen early and often. Proper internal fountain pen maintenance can mitigate the risk of internal damage, clogs, and breaks. This includes cleaning out ink that has not been used in a long period of time, and keeping the nib clog-free.
- Store your pen capped, with the nib pointing up when not in use. Preventing air exposure will help reduce the chance of clogs, which can result in breaks or tine damage.
What to Do if a Break Happens to You
We always recommend working with a professional nibmeister when it comes to repairs, but if you want to take a hands-on approach to repairing a broken, or damaged, nib, remember these tips:
- When removing the nib, do not use force. Be careful to avoid further nib damage.
- Try not to wiggle the nib to disassemble it, even if it feels stuck or lodged. This could lead to damaging cracking.
- If you are trying to straighten a bent nib, you will see greater results if the nib can be heated, but be extremely cautious of your heat source. Brief exposure to warm water will work much better than a hair dryer, light bulb, or open flame.
- Avoid using a sharp object, such as a razor blade or knife, to adjust the nib tines. Instead, use pliers to gently apply a bending force behind the tip of the nib.