A Beginner’s Guide to a Custom Fountain Pen
custom fountain pen

The vast majority of people are acquainted with three primary styles of pens: the ballpoint pen, the gel rollerball pen, and the fountain pen. Due to its use of liquid ink, the fountain pen operates differently than other writing instruments. Because the ink is primarily water with colors added, it will write more smoothly than other pens.

The fountain pen writes using liquid ink because it contains a reservoir for the ink, which you can purchase in a bottle. The ink comes in a wide variety of colors, giving you the freedom to pick whichever one best suits you. Fountain pens store the ink in the body and features a feed mechanism that sends the ink to the nib (a metal part).

Before we go into why you should consider adding a custom fountain pen to your collection or designing a custom pen as a gift for a friend, let’s look at how these pens work.

The Anatomy of the Fountain Pen

Parts of fountain pen

Many different components make up a fountain pen. It can be challenging to track which parts go by which name, particularly if you are just a beginner. The difficulty of troubleshooting is compounded by the fact that different people give the same components different names.

  • The Cap: The clip, the finial, the cap band, and the inner cap make up the cap. Because the pen has a clip, you can fasten it to a pocket, a case, or clothing. Some caps don’t come with clips. Manufacturers typically market them as being “clipless.” The clip is held more securely in place by the finial. It is on the very top of the cap. The cap band keeps the inner cap in place. The inner cap is retained within the outer cap, which makes it possible to utilize the “snap-cap.” Inner caps maintain the quality of the ink and ensure that it is always ready for use.
  • The Barrel: The barrel safeguards the cartridge, the converter, and the ink occasionally. It is a component that is both necessary and straightforward. The barrel is typically crafted from plastic, aluminum, or wood, but it can be fashioned out of virtually any malleable material.
  • The Grip Section: It looks like a simple pen holder, yet it has many valuable functions beyond that. The threading for attaching the barrel is located on the grip part, which also houses the nib.
  • The Nib Unit: The fountain pen won’t work if its nib unit is missing. Three individual components make up the nib unit.

The nib, often composed of gold or stainless steel, contains two tines, separated by the hole in the center of the nib. The part that makes contact with the paper is located at the ends of these tines.

The feed, often constructed of plastic or ebonite, is what carries ink from the cartridge or converter to the ink channel and eventually onto the paper. Capillary action, a miraculous phenomenon, is used in the feeding process.

The housing already has threading installed so you can directly screw it into the grip. The housing is designed to accommodate both the nib and the feed, and the combined components make up the nib unit.

How a Fountain Pen Works

The feed is between the nib and the housing. The reason it’s called a feed is because it is what draws the ink to the nib. There’s a very small slit that’s cut from the very back of the feed that goes all the way up to the tip. The function of that slit is to restrict the ink and the water because its surface tension draws up through capillary action.

The fins on the feed act almost as a regulator so the ink gets stored there to self-regulate, depending on your writing speed and your writing pressure, so that it can give you ink on demand.

Now, when the feed draws the ink up through the little slit, it sticks to the back of the nib, which also has a slit cut. The nib has a hole that has a slit that is cut all the way up to the very tip. That slit continues the capillary action that draws the ink all the way to the paper.

That is the essence of how a fountain pen works. It’s all capillary action and has nothing to do with gravity or pressure. As you can see, fountain pens are a relatively simple and straightforward device.

Why Should You Opt for a Custom Fountain Pen?

Writing with a custom fountain pen is an enjoyable experience. When writing for extended periods, using a fountain pen rather than a ballpoint or gel pen can prevent the cramps and aches of using other types of pens.

Every person’s writing style can be accommodated by one of the many types of fountain pens available. Each pen is unique. You can pick your perfect match by selecting criteria such as weight, color, and price point. This makes a custom fountain pen a great gift for any milestone in life. While they are just simple writing tools, they can last a lifetime, especially if you take care of it properly.

Ballpoint pens are used up rather quickly by the general public. It’s possible that switching to fountain pens as your primary method of note-taking could be a game-changer. Most individuals tend to go through their preferred ballpoint pens quickly, which can cost a lot of money over time and can be wasteful. Fountain pens require some maintenance, but they eliminate the need to regularly buy new pens.

These pens are kind to the environment. Converting from ballpoint pens to a custom fountain pen can potentially reduce waste in this environmentally challenged world. When you can merely use ink, there’s no need to keep buying new plastic pens and throwing them away.

Using fountain pens is also a fun experience. Even something as small as a custom fountain pen can make your work or studying experience feel more luxurious.

The Fountain Pen: How to Use It in Seven Easy Steps

Fountain pen on white paper

Install the Ink

Fountain pens often come with ink cartridges that are still sealed and not installed. Because of this, you will need to insert the cartridge before using the pen to write. On JetPens, you’ll discover comprehensive instructions on installing ink cartridges.

When shopping for fountain pen refill cartridges, it is essential to remember that not all pens are suitable for use with the same cartridges. This means that you should verify the list of recommended refills that come with your pen.

You can use the ink from bottled fountain pens in several different fountain pens thanks to a built-in filling mechanism or a device that looks like a cartridge and is known as a converter. Many consumers favor bottled inks over cartridge inks because bottled inks are available in a significantly wider variety of color options and, over time, cost less than cartridge ink.

Hold It Correctly

When holding the pen, the nib should be positioned so that it is at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the paper. If you hold it incorrectly or the angle is too steep or too shallow, it will be difficult to write.

Additionally, try to avoid turning the pen clockwise or counterclockwise while it is in your hand. As you write, you should ensure that the points of the two tines of the nib press evenly on the page. If this does not occur, the ink slit between them may lose touch with the page, which will cause your pen to skip. It can even cease writing completely.

Don’t Use Too Much Force

Writing with a fountain pen requires much less pressure than writing with a gel pen or a ballpoint pen. Using excessive force with a fountain pen will cause it to malfunction or break. Some fountain pens require no pressure to write, while others need only the slightest amount.

Cap It

Always put the cap back on or retract your fountain pen when not in use. If you don’t keep the ink moist in the nib, the pen won’t work when you try to use it again since the ink will have evaporated.

In most cases, if your nib dries out and you want to get it writing again, all it takes is a touch of scribbling or water.

Perform Regular Cleaning

After some time, a fountain pen’s nib will become clogged with dust, ink, and paper scraps. To get the most out of your pen, you should clean it once every month or two months. You can learn how to clean fountain pens by reading the guide provided by JenPen.

Utilize Paper and Notebooks That Are Compatible with Fountain Pens

Using paper and notebooks compatible with fountain pens, while not technically required, will make the experience much more enjoyable and reduce the likelihood that it will end in frustration.

Fountain pens will function as intended on the vast majority of standard paper. Nevertheless, you may sometimes experience bleed-through, feathering, and skipping issues. These problems are possible on any quality of paper because modern paper is not usually designed for use with fountain pens.

Because fountain pen ink can be particularly sensitive to skin oils and dust, a piece of paper that has been lying around for a while or handled too much may not work as well as new paper that human hands have not touched.

Do Your Best and See What Happens

Using fountain pens is not drastically different from using other pens. That being said, it may take some practice before it becomes second nature. It’s best to attempt writing with a range of pens, inks, papers, and different writing styles to determine which of these elements works best with your pen.

What’s Special About a Custom Fountain Pen?

Bespoke pen makers worldwide have embraced the art of creating custom pens. A significant number of them concentrate their care and attention on this one thing. They live in bustling metropolises and sleepy villages, and they often take inspiration from the architectural features of where they live and the natural features of their environments.

Many of these artisans push themselves to create a pen that is completely unique, functional, and a work of art. Best of all, a custom fountain pen takes on entirely new significance when it’s gifted to someone special in your life. You can customize the pen to their preferences with different colors, types of ink, and engravings.

For a person who is deeply passionate about pens, there may not be anything more significant than the opportunity to have their writing tool personalized according to what they like. What it means to you, how it makes you feel when you touch it, and how it appears to others are all aspects to consider.

Artisans from All Over the World Specialize in Making Custom Pens

Fountain pen and inkwell

Additive Pens

Barrel components, including the cap and the grip, are made from solid rods of transparent cast acrylic and are machined once the barrels have been entirely 3D printed. They have the appearance of scientific experiments. You have to use an eyedropper to use them, but that’s when the real fun starts.

These pens can not only retain a substantial amount of ink, but the ink itself becomes the focal point of the design as it winds its way through a ribbon or double helix pattern. For those who are on the fence because the thought of stained acrylic causes them to hesitate, you don’t need to worry. Additive Pens have created a patented ink-resistant coating to help reduce the issue.

Fill these pens with ink and start writing – assuming you can pull your gaze away from the magnificent barrel.

Broadwell Studios

David Broadwell has spent his entire life working in the creative field. In 2001, his workshop started adapting some of the processes and materials he uses for making blades to the operation of producing writing instruments. These pens are true works of art, made in the great state of Texas. To understand this, one needs only to glance at his Guernica pen, which honors Picasso’s Guernica mural and masterpiece from 1937.

Broadwell’s pens are so well known that other businesses have approached him and asked him to make pen kits for them during his career. His pens are often crafted from ebonite, metal, wood, and celluloid and are frequently carved or engraved. David Broadwell is responsible for the entirety of the pen-making process in his workshop.

Country Made Pens

When someone visits Troy Breeding’s website, he is the first person to point out to them that “not all pen designers live in the large metropolis.” Some even reside in the most remote parts of the countryside. In this instance, the country refers to Lebanon, Missouri, which is the location where Breeding is producing some of the most intricate hand-engraved barrels available on the market.

He carves some of the most highly intricate engravings imaginable using mixed metals, ebonite, and Italian acrylic. Looking at his work, it is difficult to believe a Renaissance artist was not responsible for the incredible designs.

Desiderata Pen

Pierre Miller is a musician by vocation, but he became a pen builder because he wanted an ideal flex pen set. He is an excellent pen designer and has a lot of knowledge regarding pen making. You should immediately register for his email list, check his About page, and through his Frequently Asked Questions. In addition to having a wealth of knowledge regarding pens, his website provides a glimpse into Pierre’s profoundly amusing mind. After that, you should purchase one of his hand-machined pens, produced in small batches in Chicago.

Edison Pen

In 2007, Brian Gray launched Edison out of his garage with a single manually operated metal lathe. Edison is famous for its manufacturing line, offered to retail accounts, and its trademark line, which is reserved for its direct-to-consumer pen customers. Since his wife Andrea has joined the company, the Edison team comprises a husband and wife. On the website, you will not find a shopping cart or a button to hit that says “purchase.” This was done on purpose so that the process of placing custom orders would include communication.

You can look around the site for examples of prior collaborations and versions of Edison pen models, and if you’re ready, you can start working with the team to design the perfect pen to fit your hand. Your options may appear limitless because there are so many different materials to choose from and because you will collaborate with the team. The staff at Edison is more than happy to assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is it about custom fountain pens that makes them so unique?

The writing experience is better with a custom fountain pen. You can prevent the unpleasant hand cramps that are typically caused by tightly gripping a scratchy pen since the flowing ink in a fountain pen allows the pen to move more easily. These pens also enrich the sensation of writing and create a smoother writing process.

When it comes to fountain pens, which one gets recommended the most highly?

Here is a selection of the very best fountain pens currently available.

  • The Scribe Sword is our pick for best overall.
  • The Pilot Metropolitan Collection is the best option for beginners.
  • The Disposable Pilot V Pen is the most cost-effective option.
  • The Lamy Safari is the most durable option.
  • The Platinum Preppy Rainbow is our pick for the best disposable.

Which type of ink performs the best in fountain pens?

These fountain pen inks are very highly rated:

  • Pelikan Edelstein (50ml) Fountain Pen Ink
  • Stipula Netto (70ml) Fountain Pen Ink
  • Lamy (50ml) Fountain Pen Ink
  • J Herbin (30ml) Fountain Pen Ink
  • Diamine (30ml) Fountain Pen Ink
  • Monteverde (30ml) Fountain Pen Ink

Why do custom fountain pens cost so much?

Custom fountain pens are costly mainly because they are handcrafted. Many artisans manufacture fountain pens in small batches. Many individuals would rather acquire fountain pens that artisans make instead of pens made by major companies. Custom fountain pens are usually handmade, and they have a limited number of distribution channels. Both of these reasons contribute to the higher cost of these pens.


If you’re just beginning your fountain pen hobby, we hope this article has helped you understand how these pens work and the benefits of choosing a custom pen.

If you’ve never experienced writing with a custom fountain pen, you need to get your hands on one. You can’t get this elevated writing experience with a simple ballpoint pen. The assortment of available ink colors puts to shame the most vibrant collection of gel pens, and their natural flow and minimum writing pressure are perfect for alleviating suffering if you experience hand cramps.

Custom fountain pens are a perfect gift and are more special than other types of pens. If someone special in your life has recently experienced a milestone, consider designing and gifting them a custom pen. Although it’s a simple writing tool, the beauty and durability of a fountain pen will make it a special piece that will last a lifetime.


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