Fountain pens can add flair to your writing and bring back old-school charm to your penmanship.
However, if you don’t know how to use a fountain pen, you may end up with splotches on your paper leaving you frustrated with your lack of success.
Getting a fountain pen that feels comfortable in your hand is essential. Next, fill up the ink reservoir or insert an ink cartridge into your fountain pen. Once you’re ready to write, hold the pen at a 45-degree angle, so the nib touches the paper just above where you want to write.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to use a fountain pen for the first time. You’ll learn about the different parts of a fountain pen, why it matters, and how to store your pen safely.
Fountain Pen Anatomy
Before diving in, let’s go over a few basic terms to help you make your first fountain pen purchase.
The nib is the part of the fountain pen that touches the paper to create a line. Nibs come in different types and sizes, each with its unique feel and function.
The feed is the part of the pen that guides the ink from the reservoir to the nib. It’s usually made of plastic and has a small slit on top that allows ink to flow into it from the cartridge or converter.
The feed is the most important part of your pen because it’s responsible for keeping enough ink in your nib. You’ll likely see ink flow issues and difficulty writing with your pen without a good feed.
The barrel is where your ink reservoir is housed within your pen. It also contains additional components such as the piston filler mechanism or the cartridge/converter system.
The Ink Reservoir
This part is where your ink resides! It’s like an internal tank that holds your ink until you release it onto your paper through the nib.
The Filling mechanism
There are two main filling mechanisms: a piston or a cartridge/converter.
A cartridge is a disposable plastic piece that contains the ink to be used by your pen. When it’s time to replace the cartridge, just pop it out of your pen, dispose of the empty piece, and then put in a new one. It’s as easy as that!
A converter is a glass or plastic container that contains the ink and screws into your pen. Converters can be refilled with bottled ink.
A piston filler uses a small plunger to push ink into the pen’s reservoir. This plunger is operated by turning a knob on the bottom of the reservoir, which then rotates an internal mechanism that pumps the ink into the pen.
Piston pens are generally more expensive than cartridge/converter pens because they require more engineering and precision manufacturing to create a reliable pump system.
Now that you understand some basic terminology of fountain pens and how to match your needs to your particular model, choosing the right pen will be much easier.
How to Choose Your First Fountain Pen?
The fountain pen market will see a remarkable spike in CAGR over the next 5 years. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the fountain pen market, we’ve got a few tips on how to choose your first one
You can choose from several nib sizes based on how broad or fine you want your lines to be. In addition, many factors go into pricing, such as brand name and quality of materials used in manufacturing. So consider your budget, personal preference, nib type, pen size, and weight before choosing your first fountain pen.
Here are some tips to help you choose your first fountain pen!
Step 1: Decide on Your Budget.
Fountain pens can range from under $10 to over $1,000, depending on how much you want to spend. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to test the waters with fountain pens, consider using a disposable one that costs less than $5.
You can also look into a starter kit with multiple pens and accessories.
If you want something more extravagant, you’ll want to start looking at luxury pens that cost around $1,000 or more. These pens feature intricate design work and precious metals like gold or platinum throughout their construction.
Some even come in beautiful wooden finishes that add a layer of class to their overall aesthetic.
Step 2: Consider an Optimal Size and Weight
Heavy pens may cause fatigue and can make writing for long periods uncomfortable. Pens that are lighter than average may be awkward to hold and use.
Consider a pen that is lightweight and easy to hold if you have small hands. Similarly, a heavier pen with a larger grip will work great for large hands.
If you’re unsure how much weight is appropriate, try holding several pens in-store and see which one feels most natural. If you’re still undecided after that, look at reviews online where people can describe their experiences with different pens.
Step 3: Look for a Beginner-Friendly Nib
A good nib will glide easily across the page, while a bad one will scratch and skip.
Nib size refers to how big or small the tip of your pen’s point will be—the smaller the number, the finer the tip. An EF nib is finer than an F nib, which is finer than an M nib, etc. The most common sizes for beginners are F and M.
Fine nibs are great for detailed work and general-purpose writing, while broad nibs are best for bolder strokes used while signing.
If you’re new to fountain pens and aren’t sure what kind of nibs you’d like to use, we recommend getting a medium-sized nib. It’s a good balance between flexibility and control.
Fountain pens primarily come with two types of nib material: steel and gold. Steel nibs are more affordable, but they’re also less durable than gold nibs. That said, if you’re still new to the hobby and aren’t sure how much use your new pen will get, we’d recommend going with a steel nib to save money in the long run.
Steel nibs are generally cheaper than gold, but they also have some drawbacks. Steel is more prone to corrosion, so it’s not as durable as gold. However, modern steel alloys are very durable when combined with modern inks – so don’t let this discourage you from buying a steel nib!
Step-4: Figure Out Your Personal Style
Once you’ve figured out how much money you want to spend and what kind of fountain pen is right for your budget, the next step is deciding on your personal style – which pen suits your personality?
Do you want something bright or subdued? If you love bright colors and patterns, then maybe a colorful pen would be the way to go. But if you prefer something more understated, a classic black or brown pen might be the right one for you.
Then there’s the question of whether or not you want something sleek and modern or something warm and vintage. A silver or gold modern fountain pen will work well for you if you want a sleek look. On the other hand, if a warm vibe is more up your alley, try a wooden fountain pen!
Some pens are made with elaborate designs and features, while others have a more minimalistic look. Your personal preference is one factor to consider when deciding what kind of pen would suit your writing style!
How to Use a Fountain Pen for the First Time?
The trick is to hold the pen properly. Keep it at an optimum angle, be gentle with your hand, and apply the right amount of pressure on the paper. This procedure may sound simple, but it can be tricky if you have never used this type of writing instrument.
Here is a quick guide to help you write flawlessly:
Ensure a Proper Grip
Most fountain pens come with a detachable cap, so remove the lid and hold the pen in your writing hand. You should grip the pen between your thumb and index finger with your middle finger resting against the pen barrel. It’s essential to have a firm but gentle grip.
Also, make sure your other fingers rest against the paper. This position will stabilize your hand while writing. Additionally, it won’t tire your hand when you’re writing long passages.
Holding the pen too tightly will stiffen your wrist and make it harder to move the hand along the writing surface. This can also lead to hand cramps and make it difficult for you to keep going. You might need frequent breaks from writing so that you can rest your hands.
One trick you can try for a more comfortable grip is to post the pen cap at the back of the pen. This hack is helpful if your fountain pen is small. Most modern fountain pens are lightweight, so putting the cap on the back won’t add any unnecessary weight.
The cap keeps the pen from drying out and also adds weight and bulk to the pen. If your pen is too heavy, you can also just put the cap elsewhere.
Place the Nib on the Paper
Fountain pen nibs are different from ballpoints, so you wouldn’t write with a fountain pen in the same way you would with a ballpoint. You can ensure a proper ink flow to the paper by placing the nib on the page at the right angle. A 45 to 55-degree angle is the optimal placement of the nib to the writing surface. Look for the sweet spot for the best ink flow within this range.
But what happens if you don’t maintain a proper angle? If your nib angle is too steep, its sharp tip will probably scratch or tear the paper. The ink flow will be compromised, causing uneven lines on your paper.
Likewise, if the angle is too small, it can affect your grip and wrist as you write. The ink flow mechanism depends on the absorption of ink into the paper. So, if you don’t maintain constant contact with the paper, it will disturb the flow, and you won’t get a smooth result.
Apply Optimal Pressure
A fountain pen works best when you apply light pressure on the paper. Hard pressure will tear your page and can damage a delicate or sensitive nib.
If you press the nib too lightly, your writing will look like a chicken scratch – which might be fine for some people. But if you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer or artist, applying the right pressure is important!
How to Change a Fountain Pen Cartridge?
Before replacing a cartridge, consider its size. A fountain pen cartridge may be either small or large. If you have a small cartridge, it will fit into a small ink reservoir. On the other hand, a large cartridge will fit into a large ink reservoir.
Here’s how to change an ink cartridge:
- Hold your pen horizontally with the nib facing down.
- Unscrew the barrel from your pen.
- Pull out the old cartridge.
- Insert the cartridge into the barrel of your pen.
Hold the cartridge in one hand and use your other hand to insert it into the barrel. You should insert the cartridge straight so that it fits correctly. Then, push the cartridge down until you feel it click into place.
Note: An unused cartridge has a ball cover. Once you fix the cartridge in its place, the ball is removed, and the ink starts flowing to the nib.
Dip your fountain pen nib in clean water after replacing the old cartridge. It will remove excess ink from the nib and clean it for new ink. Then, dry off your pen nib with a paper towel.
If you have a convertible cartridge pen, you can refill the ink by hand. In this case, you don’t need to throw away any cartridges.
How to Store Your Fountain Pen?
First, avoid storing your pen in direct sunlight. The heat and light can damage the ink inside your pen over time. So it’s best to store your fountain pens away from windows where they’re exposed to direct sunlight.
Second, make sure you store your pen horizontally. If you leave it standing up vertically, gravity can lead to damage as ink slowly leaks out of the nib over time.
Third, always use a soft cloth when wiping off any excess ink from your pen before storing it. Be sure to keep it away from other items so that no smudges or smears are left behind on the surface where you keep your pens!
Fountain pens are classic and elegant writing tools. But they can also be intimidating, especially if you’re learning how to use a fountain pen for the first time.
But don’t let that stop you! Fountain pens are easy to use, and once you learn how to use one, you’ll be on your way to writing with style.