Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

What’s springing a nib?

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Hello… can you tell me what springing a nib means?  I have bought a pilot with extra flex… I am not 100% happy with it now because I think I have damaged it by writing with to much pressure on the right hand tine.   I notice you mentioned springing in one of your video’s and wanted to know, what is it and can it be repaired?

Hello Ain,

Uh oh! Indeed, it is quite easy to spring a nib. All metal nibs have a degree of flexibility that will allow its tines to go back to its natural state if pushed. But if pushed too hard, it will spring and lose its ability to return to its original form. Think of it as a rubber band that can be stretched up to a point, but if stretched TOO much, it will snap or lose its springiness. I’m sure there’s a special term for it in physics. So to flex a pen is to test the metal’s springiness, and sometimes we are not careful and press it just a little too hard and spring it.

Additionally, a fountain pen nib is straight and many shaded script is written on a slant. In order to flex properly, the wrist or the paper has to twist so that both tines will be flexed together safely (this is why penmen and calligraphers use oblique pen holders). If this is not done and one flexes the pen without twisting the angle of the wrist or paper, the right tine is subject to more force than the left tine. Here is an illustration:

You can tell that the right tine is under more pressure that the left tine. If pressed too hard, the right tine would spring, but the left remains fine.. which I suspect is what happened with your pen. Here is a more thorough explanation of flex pens.

Of course, if a steel dip nib is sprung, which happens a lot, we just throw it out and grab another one. But that is not possible with flexy fountain pens which can cost $400+! As for fixing it, well I suspect it is more of a case-by-case basis, but doesn’t hurt to ask! I would recommend asking Richard Binder or John Mottishaw, both very reputable nibmeisters. Good luck!

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