Adventures in Nib Grinding – The Reversible Fine/Stub Nib

Obligatory warning: Grinding your nibs can result in a destroyed nib. I’m not responsible and definitely not an expert in this field. 

A friend has been challenging me to grind a reversible fine/stub nib for quite some time now. I finally took him up on the challenge. After some trial and error, I have come down with the following technique.

Materials Needed
  • 1x Broad Nib and a Pen
  • 1x Loupe
  • 2000 Grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper
  • 1x Grindstone (Not necessary, but it will make things go faster)
  • 1x 0.3 Micron Mylar Paper
    • AND/OR
  • 1x Piece of Flat Glass

Personally, I recommend keeping the pen inked or have a small lidded container to dip the nib and feed into. This will allow the grinding material to stay lubricated and make it easy to test the nib as you grind,

I found the easiest way to get the fine nib portion writing correctly was to align and work on that nib first. So flip that nib upside down, get it into alignment, and write with it for a while to figure out where the nib needs smoothing. I found in the nibs I practised on, they needed serious smoothing on the inside of the tines as they both were sharp as knives.

To do this, I carefully split the tines apart and smoothed them out with a small sheet of the 2000 grit sandpaper. I found my usual method of just curling the sand paper around the nib like and running it across the sandpaper did not work nearly as well as it does for the business end of the nib. I found carefully resting the sandpaper on a meaty part of a finger tip and gently pushing the nib into the sand paper and drawing it across worked much better. Be very careful when doing this as it is very easy to spring the nib doing this.

Then, its time to work on the stub side of the nib. I used a loupe and a great image found on Tyler Dahl’s website to figure out the shape I was shooting for. Personally, I shot for a stub nib with a slightly crispier edge to emphasize the differences in width.

The first thing to do was to hold the nib tip parallel against the grindstone (or the sandpaper on a flat surface) and smooth down the tipping to a flat edge. Make sure the grindstone is wet with ink or water to help lubricate things. Flip the nib over often and write with the fine side to make sure everything is in alignment. As you’re grinding, you may have to realign the tines often. Remember, you need to grind the stub side so both sides of the nib  are aligned for smooth writing.

The next part is the tricky part. Now your nib should sort of look like  this (sorry about the awful MS Paint skills)

Now you’ll need to use that awesome picture from Tyler Dahl’s site. Decide if you want to try a stub, a cursive italic, or a crisp italic. The trick is to try to keep the top of the nib looking like a curved fine nib tip while working the bottom of the nib into the right shape. Go slow using the 2000 grind sandpaper, check your work often under a loupe and test things on a sheet of of paper.

Once you’re happy with the writing same, it’s time to break out the Mylar film and/or the glass. Once again, make sure the tines are aligned. Personally, I found the best way to go was to smooth both sides with the Mylar film first, then touch things up with the piece of glass.

Reversible Italic/Fine Nib

My first successful attempt came out rather dry on the fine side of the nib. I’m working on figuring out a way to improve flow on the top of the nib, but it could be just a weird quirk of the nib I was working with. The line variation isn’t as great as I wanted it, as I did grind the nib angle for a 43 degree pen angle for someone else. I tend to write with my pens at a steeper 50 degree angle.

This is no way the best or only way to pull this grind off, but it was what worked for me! I’d love to hear feedback and tips

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