Return to Caring for a Fountain Pen


This section of the site is something of an exercise in stealing from my own pocket.  I do, after all, offer to do these things in return for money.  However, I also realize that the economics of fixing a pen that’s a shabby heirloom might not make sense, or indeed that having spent money on food and rent one finds pen repairs out of reach.  The latter is largely what moved me to investigate how to repair pens in the first place, and while I’ve now got some practice in the field and have made some of the mistakes necessary to claim skill, I haven’t signed onto any guild and don’t think there’s any value in keeping some of this stuff secret.  I also want to give a sense of how much work is involved, so those who are on the fence between DIY and sending it off to someone with experience will have a basis for their decision (if you want to read that as “I’m trying to scare you,” that’s fair).

Before you dive in, I want to mention the single most important thing to being to bear on the action of pen repair: Patience.  In fact, I should write it Patience to reflect its paramount importance.  I will not say that an exercise of patience will prevent the snapping, loss or deformity of pen components in all cases, but I will strongly assert that without patience such disasters are almost certain.  If you are trying any of the procedures outlined here, and the pen is resisting you, set it down and walk away the moment you feel frustration urging you to try a little harder, or to see if a bigger, grabbier, heavier tool is the answer.  The pen has infinite patience, it will not think any less of you if you take a week or a month to complete the task.

I should also mention that getting second opinions is useful.  Google yourself up some other repair hints.  Ask questions, whether of me or of pen-fanciers in general.  If you’re considering repairing more than one pen ever, get some books, like the invaluable manual by Jim Marshall and Lawrence Oldfield, the somewhat outdated but still useful Dubiel book (there are a few places to get it), or even some reproductions of original repair manuals (which tend to assume ready supplies of spare parts).  The cynical reader may think that I’m trying to dodge blame with all these suggestions, and that’s partially true; I really, really don’t want anyone wrecking their pen, even less so based on something I’ve written.  In the end, though, it’s up to the person doing the action to pause and consider.  Be cautious.  You’re the one holding the pen.

Filler Repairs:

Other Repairs:

Tools You Might Not Recognize

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