I’ve had a lot of fun working as the repair tech for Bertram’s Inkwell. I’ve already fixed
so many pens in my time working for Bert, but as much as I enjoy restoring pens to good
working order, I still think there’s something much more fun than any repair could ever
be. By now you may be wondering what could possibly be more fun than scraping out a
disintegrated rubber sac from a vintage pen. Well, dearest pen friends, I have an answer
for you: custom nib grinds.
“That’s great,” most people say, “but what is a custom nib grind?” The answer is deceivingly
simple. Custom nib grinds are any sort of modification to the shape of a nib’s tipping
material that changes the line it puts down on the page. (Translation: different grinds
make different lines!)
Before I get too ahead of myself about what kinds of grinds there are, I should explain
how a normal nib works. The little ball of stuff at the end of your nib (sometimes called
iridium) is a super-hard metal, almost as hard as the surface of a diamond in some
cases. For your pen to write smoothly that little ball has to be, well, ball-shaped, or in
technical terms, ’round’. If your nib is not round it will feel ‘scratchy’ at some angles on
the page. In the case of custom grinds, however, a nib is not rounded at some angles on
purpose, changing the writing experience of a nib in surprisingly pleasant ways.
For example, a common nib offered by many large pen manufacturers nowadays is a
‘stub’ nib. The stub nib is the easiest example of a nib with line variation, which just
means that when the pen is held a certain way it can produce thicker or thinner lines on
A stub grind usually means that vertical lines are wider than horizontal lines on paper.
There are all sorts of other fun custom grinds, too; my favorite one, the ‘architect’s nib’,
is sort of like a stub that’s been turned 90º against the page, which is to say that its
vertical lines are quite thin while its horizontal lines are quite thick.
As the repair tech at Bertram’s Inkwell I am pleased to say that I am capable of grinding
nibs to customer specifications! If you’d like to add some unique flair to your
handwriting, aren’t happy with your current pen’s nib, or just want something fun to try,
I’m more than happy to help you through the process. Alternatively, if you have a nib
that just doesn’t write quite right, I can tune it to be perfectly smooth for your hand as
well as adjust and optimize inkflow to your preferences.
I’ve barely just scratched the surface of the wonderful world of nibs in this post, so if
you’d like more information feel free to stop by and ask questions or email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org! Keep writing, folks- the pen is truly mightier than the
sword! Plus it’s not as much of a pain to carry around.