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A sensible approach to amateur nib smoothing?

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#1 JanesvilleJones



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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:17 PM

This thread over at FPN has me feeling flustered:



Jim Baer’s comments, in particular, leave me wondering if I even know the first thing about how to smooth a nib correctly


…Smoothing a nib has been the hardest skill to master for me. It is somewhat easy to fool around with and get some beneficial results, heck we even sell nib smoothing kits! Lots of folks are smoothing their own nibs. It seems easy to do but the reality is much more subtle.


Smoothing properly is all about shape and correct tine alignment. I still show Richard nibs where the tines look properly aligned to me after I have adjusted ,but aren't!! Many nibs start out from the factory with asymmetrical tines due to vagaries in manufacturing. Adjusting those suckers is truly an art--again it's all about shaping compensation, pad, corner edges on the nib- both inner(slit wall) edges and outer edges. Also the actual surface of the nib can have micro roughness in spots and removing them makes a HUGE difference to smoothness.


Anyhow I could go on for pages and pages but to distill down most of what I have learned about fixing nibs is that it truly is an Art to do right. There is a huge amount of feel involved and very minute changes have drastic effects!


Do I say don't do it? No, practice on pens you don't mind messing up. Have fun. But please refrain from giving advice that isn't necessarily sound to a newbie who has never tried to fix a nib without knowing the particulars. It's too easy for them to make matters worse.



Is it just me, or is there way too much conflicting information on this topic? I have seen everything from the likes of Jim’s post above (which I am sure is 100% correct), all the way down to people suggesting that figure-8’s on a brown paper bag is perfectly acceptable…!


For the benefit of newbies like me, could someone please point us in the direction of some good/accurate/correct information on nib smoothing? I want to aspire towards professional-quality restorations, not amateurish hack-jobs that “work for me”…


On my most recent acquisition, (a VERY humble P51 Vac:  http://www.ebay.com/...984.m1497.l2649), I have refrained from attempting any smoothing whatsoever, until I re-learn some basics…


Many thanks.



Edited by JanesvilleJones, 13 January 2014 - 10:39 PM.

#2 Mike Hosea

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:47 PM

I somewhat agree with Jim insofar as some nibs seem harder to smooth than others to me, and I can only imagine that Richard knows perfectly well how to handle them.  Mostly these are older nibs.  There's a yin yang of smoothed off edges versus baby's bottom, also tine separation.  Everything must be in balance, and often I am guessing how to find it.  I also know what Jim is talking about vis-a-vis the asymmetrical tines.  These are a little more challenging.  I have a little hubris in me, however, for thinking I sometimes get it right and that it only occasionally looks like a full-on "hack job" even when it isn't right, just a job not finished.


Richard Binder ran a master class recently.  Was it last summer?  Maybe he will do it again this year.  

Edited by mhosea, 13 January 2014 - 10:48 PM.

#3 welch



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Posted 13 January 2014 - 11:12 PM

I agree with Jim, and completely disagree with 


- the paper-bag trick (can't straighten a tine by smoothing a tip)


- lining up the tines if you've never done it, even if you work slowly.


Someone like Jim Baer or Greg Minuskin check, straighten, and smooth nibs again and again. Any craftsman learns things by working a piece many times. Even working slowly, a first-timer does not have the skill.


The FPN poster should send the pen to someone good. A respectable nib-specialist will warn if a bent nib is beyond repair. 

#4 Saleem ali

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 06:55 PM

 I would like to make staement of my own bad experiances .Learning from FPN or other forums , I gathered a lot of theoritical knowledge about damaged or badly perfprming nibs . I was sucessful in straightening bent  nib of my parker 75  after falling on the floor, but scratchiness did not go away.  I tried many things including writng on glass , brown bag ,card cover of legal pads , and to the worst making circles on "very fine grit paper" , result : nib remains scratchy and annoying . The nib did not break because 14 k gold permits flexibility and prevents breakage , while to straight  a  steel nib can very quickly break it .Lesson learned ; Leave the job to a professional nibmiester, this is the best advice IMHOP.To my dismal , there are no nibmiester here in Pakistan who can restore these nibs, and sending them to Mr Mottisaw or Binder would cost so much  , so a new nib can be purchased ! Again very costly ,here about 70.00 Us dollars!!

#5 JanesvilleJones



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Posted 31 January 2014 - 11:28 PM

Thanks for the replies...


I managed to calm down a bit, do some more research, and went back to this document:



...if that ain't a good place to start, I don't know what could be.


I'm feeling much better about my hobby now… and feeling grateful for folks like Mr. Binder who are willing to share so much of what they know. And yes, one of his classes is VERY high on my list.





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