Poor man's fix for a Lamy fountain pen nib that skips

Poor man's fix for a Lamy fountain pen nib that skips

This is a poor man's technique for fixing a fountain pen nib that skips, i.e., does not lay down ink during certain strokes.

I bought my first fountain pen two days ago – the Lamy Safari with a medium nib. Unfortunately, the ink was skipping during downstrokes at the beginning of a word and also at the top of rounded letters. You can see this is the first image. After the word 'Brad,' the first letters of the next five words are missing their initial downstrokes or top curves.

Brad at The Pen Addict told me to clean the nib with water. It still skipped after cleaning, so I read a bit about nib problems in this post in the Fountain Pen Network, and I followed its links to further reading and read those. I also had a twitter conversation with Ana of the Well-Appointed Desk blog. She pointed me to this video by The Goulet Pen Company, which led me to this video.

All of this was very informative and helpful to get me thinking about what might have been wrong with my Safari nib. I concluded that the gap between the tines was too narrow and that the nib's foot was likely rounded underneath, requiring more pressure than I preferred to get the ink on the page. I could have been wrong about all of this since I am a complete newbie.

I didn't want to spend money on brass sheets, micro-papers or professional service. And I wanted my nib to work today. I found a couple of things around the house to get the job the done.

Here is how I fixed my skipping Lamy nib.

I removed the nib and wiped off the ink. Then I flossed the nib with the edge of a sheet of paper from my Rhodia pad. It takes some practice to feed the corner of the paper into the gap. In the links above I saw someone do this with a thin sheet of metal. I figured I had nothing to lose trying it with paper. At a minimum I figured it would clean the gap between the tines, and at best it would widen the gap a bit, which is what I wanted. I repeated this a few times.

Next I found my wife's old fingernail filing cube that had different grades of texture on each side. I buffed the writing tip of the nib on each surface of the fingernail cube for about a minute. Ignore the text on the cube in the image above as it was meant for fingernails not nibs. I put the pen back together but it was still skipping. So I flossed the nib a few more times with Rhodia paper and then repeated the buffing.

Now my Lamy Safari has an increased ink flow and no skipping! I understand why many of the experts in the links above urged caution for anyone trying this at home. It would have been easy for me to spread the gap too much or to buff the nib tip too much resulting in a soupy writing experience. I got lucky and stopped just in time. Read everything before breaking your new nib.

At the bottom of the image above you'll see the before and after writing samples. No more skipping! The after sample shows darker lines due to the increased flow. The writing now feels extra smooth as the nib glides across the page. Now I can write as fast as I want and the ink keeps up with me. 

A lucky but perfect poor man's nib fix.

Thanks to Brad and Ana for pointing me to useful resources.

And by the way, I ordered a new nib to see how well it writes right out of the box. If it writes well I will know that my current nib was just a one-off bad nib. If the new nib also skips, then perhaps Lamy nibs just aren't designed for my preferences and I will always have to widen their gaps and buff their nib tips. We'll see.

I study philosophy and social theory at the University of South Florida. I am also a photographer, map lover and sometimes poet.