Author Topic: How to successfully grind an edged nib  (Read 3311 times)

Offline Ken Fraser

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How to successfully grind an edged nib
« on: August 07, 2014, 05:33:05 AM »
It's possible to grind nibs freehand, but it's very tricky to do. For many years, I've been using this simple device to sharpen and occasionally, "italicise" nibs.

I'd like to credit the author/inventor but I can't remember where I read about it. Like all clever ideas, it's very simple and very effective.

Here's how it's done :-

Cut a small block of wood to a size which fits comfortably in your hand. Cut a notch in one side. Fit a pen in the notch with the nib facing upside down. Hold the pen firmly in place with elastic bands. Allow it to protrude to taste - in other words, for a shallow shape, extend the pen out of the block - for a steep slope, pull it in a bit. Fix a sheet of fine glass paper, or similar to the surface. This is fixed to my drawing board, but a small sheet of glass is probably a better base. It is very important that the surface should be absolutely flat. - and that's about it.

Making sure that the wood is always in contact with the glass, move the block vertically away and towards you in a sawing motion on the glass paper just allowing the nib to touch. A few strokes back and forth will probably do the job. This little, ingenious device can either sharpen italic nibs or produce absolutely straight edges from round tipped nibs very quickly and with consistency.
When placed on the paper, the edge of the nib is parallel to the edge of the block of wood. I used only one elastic band in the picture, when I should have used one at the top of the block and one at the bottom. I wind them round the block and, as the pen is already set in the V slot there is absolutely no movement.
I occasionally use it with cheap fountain pens as experiments and would have no hesitation in using it on more expensive pens.

To recap - there are only two things of importance. Make sure that the pen is firmly anchored to the block and use a perfectly flat surface, preferably a piece of glass.  You will find it very stable and almost impossible to rock to and fro.

I have been using this little device for a long time, and have lost very, very few nibs. In all these cases, the fault has been due to carelessness on my part.

In the attached photo, both nibs have been sharpened using the device. The tiny nib was produced from a much larger one. I ground down the sides freehand and then sharpened it using the device. As you can see, it's is capable of incredible accuracy, even at the tiniest nib size.

After grinding, I pour a small amount of liquid metal polish onto a piece of cardboard and describe small circles in it with the edged nib and my normal handhold. This results, very quickly, in a mirror-like surface. I have to remember to wash the nib thoroughly to remove the polish!








« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 06:26:39 AM by Ken Fraser »

Offline tintenfuchs

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2014, 06:42:11 AM »
Very clever, thank you!
Natascha
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Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 09:23:55 AM »
Hi Ken,

By glass paper, do you mean what we call sandpaper here? If so, how fine is the grit? Something like 400 or 600?

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2014, 09:36:26 AM »
Hi Ken,

By glass paper, do you mean what we call sandpaper here? If so, how fine is the grit? Something like 400 or 600?

As far as I know, the finest grade of sandpaper is about the same as glass paper - in other words, as fine as possible.

Offline Moya

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2014, 10:38:33 AM »
I think that the number I was taught was either 1000-grit or 1200-grit, Mike - if that helps?  I only heard it called 'sandpaper,' but that doesn't mean it's not the same thing - I've never heard the term glass paper.


Offline Blotbot

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2014, 04:13:32 PM »
Have you been able to use the block to make a finer nib? 

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2014, 05:01:51 PM »
Have you been able to use the block to make a finer nib?

The system produces an even edge on a nib, but it wouldn't be suitable as a method for producing a fine nib.

Ken

Offline Salman Khattak

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2014, 05:14:05 PM »
Wow - what an elegant solution. Thanks for sharing this Ken - I will now go look for a block of wood :-)

Salman
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Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2014, 05:38:54 PM »
Hi Ken,

By glass paper, do you mean what we call sandpaper here? If so, how fine is the grit? Something like 400 or 600?

As far as I know, the finest grade of sandpaper is about the same as glass paper - in other words, as fine as possible.
A bit of research reveals glass paper is similar to sandpaper, but uses various sized glass particles as the abrasive (versus silica or other minerals for sand paper).
Glasspaper is graded also, the finest being Flour (00) which corresponds to 180 grit sandpaper. Sandpaper goes to at least 2500. I was using a series of sandpapers this morning to polish a piece of ebony, stating at 120 and going up in steps to 1200.
Is the glasspaper you are using 00 (called flour)? The grade is usually on the back or package. If so, I'll know what grade of sandpaper to start with.

Here's a more detailed explanation:

http://www.geoffswoodwork.co.uk/abrasives.htm

Thanks, Ken
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 05:44:18 PM by AnasaziWrites »

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2014, 06:47:29 AM »
Is the glasspaper you are using 00 (called flour)? The grade is usually on the back or package. If so, I'll know what grade of sandpaper to start with.

Sorry.....I was mistaken. It's sandpaper and not glasspaper!

It's 3M Silicon Carbide - smooth finish Wet or Dry Sandpaper P600 Fine.

Ken

Offline AnasaziWrites

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Re: How to successfully grind an edged nib
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2014, 09:39:52 AM »
Is the glasspaper you are using 00 (called flour)? The grade is usually on the back or package. If so, I'll know what grade of sandpaper to start with.

Sorry.....I was mistaken. It's sandpaper and not glasspaper!

It's 3M Silicon Carbide - smooth finish Wet or Dry Sandpaper P600 Fine.

Ken
Thanks, Ken. 600 grit makes sense to me. 180 grit would wear down a nib very quickly. 600 should leave a nice smooth finish, although finishing with an even higher grit might give yet a smoother finish.
Thanks for passing along this tip.

Mike