You wouldn’t choose just any mechanic to work on your car, so why would you choose just any nibmeister to fix your valuable, personal, fountain pen? When you invest in a fountain pen, you are investing in a tool that you should expect to maintain for years to come. While you should always be responsible for your own general maintenance, there may be times when bent nibs, or other, more complicated maintenance and care needs to be performed. Unless you are a highly experienced fountain pen user, we recommend leaving such maintenance to a professional nibmeister. Our guide will help prepare you for finding, and working with, a skilled, qualified professional.
What to Expect when Working with a Nibmeister
Understand what types of maintenance and repairs should be serviced. You shouldn’t need to have all of your fountain pens serviced every year. Instead, you should only need to reach out to a nibmeister in times when non-routine maintenance and repairs are necessary. Times when a nibmeister can assist you may include:
- Ink flow issues, or to adjust a nib to write “wetter,” or “drier” than the manufacturer intended
- Bent tines
- Fill/refill issues
- Leaky sections
- A drastically clogged nib
- Grinding a fine nib to an extra fine point, a medium nib to a fine nib, or stubbing a broad nib
- Choose the right nibmeister. We recommend that you don’t go all-in with your entire fountain pen collection with a brand new nibmeister. Like the craft performed by a piano tuner, nibmeisters’ work is unique and their approach to adjustments can be variable. You’ll want to make sure the nibmeister’s style fits with your desired end results before you ask him to adjust your entire collection. Instead, start by asking for an adjustment to just one pen (preferably, not your favorite antique relic – just incase).
- Prepare for separation. Unless you live conveniently close to a local nibmeister, you may have to send your pen out for maintenance. While this separation may be inconvenient and nerve-wracking, know that your fountain pen is being cared for by a professional, and you will be reunited soon. Do ask about the average turnaround time in advance though, so you have a general idea of what to expect.
- Consider the resources available at fountain pen events and shows. Ideally, you should be able to have maintenance performed at a local, or regional fountain pen show or exhibit. Search for local events in your area, and consider coordinating your maintenance to be done on-site during the event.
- Be specific in your request. Aside from knowing what manual adjustments needs to be made, express to the nibmeister your preferences and ideals for how the pen writes, the speed of the ink flow, the spread of the tines, etc. Remember, a nibmeister is a true professional and should be able to customize his work to truly make your fountain pen an extension of yourself. Also be sure to let your nibmeister know of any particularities that could impact the adjustments he will be making. For example, are you a righty or a lefty? Do you write with a light touch, or firm pressure? A true artisan will take all of this into consideration when making your requested adjustments.
- Ask about pricing up front. When it comes to custom work, no one wants a financial shock. Ask in advance for a cost estimate and plan accordingly.
- If you have the luxury of trying out a few nibmeisters to see which one best fits your style, then contract with several different professionals. Remember, you both have preferences when it comes to fountain pens. Finding an ideal relationship may take time, but will be well worth the effort.