Fountain Pen Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Inky Paw on

Every once in a while we hear from our customers about damaged fountain pens. While some of the issues are fixable, others made us cringe. Here are some mistakes to avoid so you can stay clear from all fountain pen users' nightmare.


1. Using non-fountain pen ink in a fountain pen

This means iron gall, calligraphy ink, alcohol-based ink, etc. These inks are easily available at art supplies shops, and some of them can be relatively inexpensive compared to fountain pen inks. However, they can cause permanent damage to your pens from corrosion or staining.

To keep your beloved pens safe, it is better to stay with inks made specifically for fountain pens. Read the label on the bottle before purchasing to make sure they are compatible.


2. Not cleaning/maintaining the pen properly

Fountain pens require quite a bit of tender loving care. A pen that receives good care and proper maintenance can last for decades.

It is important to clean out your pens thoroughly before putting them away in storage, or before switching inks. Also, do not let ink sit in the pen for prolonged periods. Dried ink can be very difficult to clean out, and may clog the feed so the pen will not write properly. If you are having difficulty cleaning out your pen, try J. Herbin's pen cleaning solution.


3. Dropping the pen

This is one of the most common cause of death for fountain pens. Drop your phone, it might get a cracked screen. Drop your pen, you might end up with a sprung or bent nib.

Fountain pen nibs are delicate structures that can be easily damaged by physical force. Once a nib is damaged, depending on the severity, you may be able to save it by sending it in for repairs, or you may need to replace the whole nib unit. While steel nibs are relatively inexpensive, gold nibs can cost hundreds of dollars to replace.

Let's not drop our pens and save that money for some good ink instead.


4. Pushing too hard when you write

If you are using a fountain pen for the first time, you want to write as lightly as you can at the beginning, until you get used to it. Fountain pens, unlike ballpoints or pencils, require very little pressure to produce a line, which is awesome because it reduces fatigue in prolonged writing sessions.

Pushing the pen too hard can make the pen feel scratchier, or worse, spring the nib. Be gentle.


5. Not using fountain pen-friendly paper

While this is not a must, it will certainly give you more joy in writing with a fountain pen. Office copy paper is common, but most of them are not built for ink, and may exhibit properties like feathering (squished bug-like pattern around the letters) and bleeding (ink penetrating the sheet of paper onto the other side of the page).

To get the most out of your ink, pair it with good fountain pen-friendly paper. They will show off the sheen and shading in your ink better, and also give you a smoother writing experience.


6. Cleaning the pen with alcohol or acetone

Don't do it. TWSBI inserts a slip of paper in their packaging, cautioning against cleaning the pen with alcohol. The reason behind this? Alcohol and acetone are very harsh on plastic material. They can dissolve acrylic, turning it white or hazy.

If you want to clean your pen, use water and a mild detergent to rinse it out. If the ink is stubborn about leaving, try some pen flush or pen cleaner.


7. Putting it together with keys and other sharp objects

Do you have a fountain pen with lots of scratches and marks on the body? While some marks are normal with regular use, more visible marks can be caused by dropping the pen, carrying the pen with other sharp objects in a pocket, or rough handling.

Some fountain pens have a delicate finish on the pen body, which demands extra care so it does not chip or scratch off. If you like to carry your pen in your pocket, try a pen pouch that is designed to protect your beloved writers.


8. Pulling on a screw cap

Yes, some fountain pens actually have a screwed on cap instead of the usual push and click snap cap. Resist the instinct to pull on fountain pen caps if you are not entirely sure how to uncap them. Excessive force like that can break the cap and cause grief, especially when it is a vintage pen or one of sentimental value.

Whenever you are unsure, it is safer to assume it is a screw cap. Try to unscrew it before attempting to pull. If you are lending a pen to a friend, it is also a good idea to mention that it is a screw cap before tragedy happens.


9. Not using the pen

Last but not least, be sure to use your pen! Fountain pens, like other pens, are built for writing. Their beauty cannot be fully admired in the storage box. If you have pens that have been set aside for a long while, now is the time to get them out, ink them, and write with them.


Have fun with your pens, take good care of them, and your pens will thank you with their longevity and performance.

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