Frequently Asked Questions
What is a flex nib fountain pen?
Fountain pens that write with flexible nibs provide calligraphic flair to your handwriting. A flex nib is able to change the line width of your pen stroke by applying gentle finger pressure to the nib, which then opens the gap between the tines, yielding a broader line. Then, when pressure is released, the nib springs back into its original position, writing with a thinner line.
What is the best flex nib fountain pen for a beginner?
To get a taste of the flex nib writing experience on a budget, we suggest first trying a dip pen nib holder with a Brause Blue Pumpkin Steno nib. The Steno nib has plenty of flexibility with a super fine, unflexed line. The only drawback is that you have to continually dip the Blue Pumpkin nib as you write. There aren't any self-filling pens that use this nib. For a starter flex nib fountain pen that can be refilled, we suggest a Noodler's Triple Tail. The three-tined steel nib has ample flexibility, an ebonite feed that keeps up, and a piston-pump ink filling system. Plus, unlike many of the cheaper Noodler's pens on the market, it doesn't have "the smell!"
Who makes the best flexible nibs?
Presently there are a number of manufacturers producing a flexible nib fountain pen - Conklin Omniflex, Noodler's Ahab/Konrad, Pilot Falcon, Pilot FA nib, Scribo "Feel the Flex" nib, and Jowo elastic nib, to name a few. The "best" flex nibs provide an ample amount of line variation with a feed that can keep up with the rapid flow of ink. Presently, the SCRIBO 14kt gold "Feel the Flex" nib with ebonite feed is the best gracefully flexing without railroating or skipping.
How do you write with a flex nib fountain pen?
Writing with a flex nib fountain pen is slightly different than using a standard fountain pen. However, you could write with a flex nib pen the same way you would a standard fountain pen nib. You just won't get the line variation. To engage the nib's flexibility, apply a gentle amount of finger pressure to the nib on the downstroke (ONLY!). Stroke the nib downward like you would a paintbrush. It will take some time to find the right amount of pressure and speed. Just make sure not to apply pressure on the tines when moving the nib side-to-side or on the upstroke. Find more details on how to write with a flex nib fountain pen here.
Which types of ink should I use with a flex nib fountain pen?
Flex nib fountain pens require a higher ink flow demand than standard nibs. A flex nib with an ebonite feed is an ideal combination for the most consistent flow. However, you'll want to pay attention to your ink choice when using flexible nibs. Drier inks (like most undersaturated, pale ink colors, and super sheeny inks) might be the cause of skipping or railroading when spreading the flex nib's tines. We recommend wetter, well-lubricated inks for an optimal writing experience.
Do you need to "break in" flex nibs?
In short, no. Flex nibs, even a 14kt gold ones, do not need to be prepared or broken in when you first use the fountain pen. The fountain pen should provide the same amount of flexibility from day one to day 365 and beyond.
What are the characteristics of a flex nib fountain pen?
1. Flex nib fountain pens yield line variation that is proportional to the softness of the nib and the amount of finger pressure applied on the downstroke.
2. A flexible nib is usually made from a 14kt gold alloy. However, there are a number of "elastic" style nib options made in stainless steel that are more affordable options for flex.
3. The amount of line variation a flex nib provides vary based on the nib design and material.
4. Flexible nibs have a geometry different than standard nibs, with cutouts and a shape that is better suited to flex.
How do I troubleshoot flex nibs?
Most issues with flex nibs arise from insufficient ink flow. When you apply pressure to the nib, the tines open and lay down ink. So, the feed needs to keep up with this rapid demand of ink.
What is most common is "railroading," when the surface tension of the ink breaks, resulting in two lines spread apart from each other and nothing filled in between. If this happens frequently, it could mean a few things:
The writer is pushing the flex too far.
The writer is flexing too quickly.
The ink is too dry / to viscous to provide adequate flow
To remedy railroading, first see if slowing down and not pressing down as hard on the downstroke improves the consistency. If it does not, then switch out the ink to one that is more lubricated (wetter flow).
If no ink flow is present at all, it might be possible the flex nib was pushed too far and the nib is now "splayed." If there is an excessive gap between the tines, ink will no longer reach the tip of the nib. If you have a splayed nib, a nib meister should be able to adjust it to get writing better than ever.