Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: How A Fountain Pen Works

How A Fountain Pen Works

How A Fountain Pen Works

How A Fountain Pen Works

How a fountain pen works is the subject of this article, and it’s going to be very simple. The first thing you need to know about how a fountain pen works is that there are two main parts: the ink cartridge and the nib. The ink cartridge holds your fountain pen ink, while the nib writes with it. By using capillary action to achieve a controlled leak. Fountain pen ink travels from the reservoir to the nib via capillary action and air pressure. From there, it travels to the paper by means of capillary action and the force of gravity.

It all begins with the ink stored in your fountain pen's reservoir. From there gravity does its thing and pulls it down through your hand, passing the grip/ section until it enters the feed. The design of the ink cartridge fountain pen makes the color gets for you to reuse whenever you need it. The design also ensures that the air is regulated, and replaces the ink used in the reservoir. This prevents leaks and keeps your hands (for the most part) free from splatters of black ink.

From the feed, ink enters the nib, and from there it continues its capillary action to write on the paper, which has been placed on top of it. The nib also helps regulate the airflow by allowing air into the feeder. And that the fountain pen is still what it is today because it was developed through years of trial and error. If you want to know more about fountain pens, you can find out more here.

A Short History | How A Fountain Pen Works

The pen has a very long history. For hundreds of years, people have been trying to find a pen that holds a supply of ink and allows for a consistent flow of ink onto the paper. Before the fountain pen was invented, people used dip pens and quill pens that had to dip into an inkwell. The results were inconsistent printing on the page. Ink spilled onto the writer and paper.

A quill pen is a type of writing instrument that uses feathers instead of metal nibs. The feather tip is attached to a shaft that is held in the hand. Originally used by ancient Egyptians and Romans. Later replaced by metal nibs, they still remain a favorite among calligraphers and artists.

The Maghreb region requested an ink pen that would keep its user's hands clean while they wrote. There is no record of how the pen worked or what it looked like. It was a pen that contained ink and could be held upside down.

Leonardo da Vinci designed and constructed an ink pen. There are cross-section drawings of a pen in his journal. His handwriting has remained unchanged since he wrote these notes. The fountain pen is probably one of the most popular types of writing instrument in history. It's also one of the oldest. They used it to create papyrus scrolls.

Improvements to fountain pens were made throughout the 1700s-1900s, including self-filling pens, cartridges, and safeties. There are many aspects of how today’s fountain pens operate that are a mystery to casual users and pen enthusiasts alike.

Main Components Of A Fountain Pen | How A Fountain Pen Works

How a fountain pen works is always a question when someone first hears about them. So let’s take a look at some of the parts of a fountain pen and how they work together to make writing possible. There are three main parts of a fountain pen that get the ink from inside the pen onto the page – the ink reservoir, the feed, and the nib.

The Reservoir | How A Fountain Pen Works

The part of the pen which stores the ink. You can hold the ink in cartridge pens, in an ink converter, or just in the pen barrel itself. When the pen is upright, ink flows out of the barrel into the feed. The feed then carries the ink to the nib where it writes on the paper.

The Feed | How A Fountain Pen Works

This is the clever bit, where the ink flow from the reservoir. Once the ink has passed through the feed, this delivers ink from the pen barrel to your pen in a consistent and steady stream. Made up of several parts, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll cover the elements that take the ink out of the reservoir and deliver it to the nib to apply to the page.

The most noticeable part about the feed is the fins that stick out from the top. They help control both the ink flow and the flow of air. The fins help collect the fountain pen ink as it flows and stops too much ink from flowing all at once. They also allow air into the pen barrel, which makes the liquid flow out in an irregular manner. If you think of inverting the bottle of water, the water will flow out in an uneven manner because the air wants to get back into the empty space inside the bottle. A fountain pen allows air to flow steadily back into the ink reservoir to replace the ink that is flowing out. The nib is used for this purpose as well.

The Nib | How A Fountain Pen Works

Finally, we come to the nib. The most obvious part of a fountain pen. The nib is the part of the pen that delivers the ink to paper and has several key components to it. Along the nib, you'll find a fine slit or gap through which ink flows steadily to the nib tip of the pen.

The line that you see on top of the pen nib, created by the space between the two tines of the nib, takes ink from the feed and distributes it to the tip of your pen. This is why it’s very important that these align perfectly and not too close to each other or too far away from each other, otherwise, the ink won’t transfer properly. Also, look at the small hole just above the ink slit, which allows air to flow into it so that the ink can flow out.

The tips of the nibs are where the ink finally meets the paper, as it pulls along its surface, it draws more ink out, creating smoother lines when you write, and depending on the shape of the nib tip, it may affect the style of writing that’s possible. There are so many different styles available to choose from.

Types Of Nibs | How A Fountain Pen Works

Types Of Nibs | How A Fountain Pen Works

The fountain pen nib is a very important part of fountain pens. It’s what helps you create beautiful handwriting. There are many types of fountain pen nibs available. Some have a wide variety of shapes, some have multiple nib sizes, some have grooves, and some even have holes! Here are some of the most common ones:

Broad Nib | How A Fountain Pen Works

The broad nib, or broad-edge, is the oldest of the two nib types and has a larger point than the fine nib. It is rigid and straight. The pen is usually kept at a constant angle to its writing surface (the paper). Different scripts require different nib angles for optimal results. Strokes are made up of thick and thin lines. They're created by varying the direction in which they're drawn. There has been a lot of development in handwriting styles over the centuries, but there are some basic rules that apply throughout.

Pointed Nib | How A Fountain Pen Works

The pointed nib is not as hard as a broad-edged pen. You can achieve thick and thin lines by varying the amount of force you apply to the pen. On downstrokes, thick lines are created by pushing down on the pen nib, which causes the nib tines to spread out and allows more ink to flow through a widened slit onto the paper. Thinner strokes produce lighter pressure, which creates less flexing of the teeth. To create the finest hairline strokes, use the upstroke and sideways stroke. Because of the shape of the pointed pen nib, thicker lines can only be made by using the downstroke. If too much pressure is applied to the pen, the nib may dig deeper into the paper.

Pointed nibs were invented in the 17th century, and were originally made from quills in a manner similar to broad-edged nib pens. Toward the end of the Industrial Revolu­tion in the early 19th cen­tury, high demand for nib­bles coupled with steel manufac­turing pro­cesses eventually led to the mass produc­tion of the steel nib. Pointed nibs were also responsible for the development of newer styles such as the English Roundhand and Copperplate scripts during the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the Spenserian script in the 19th century. Sketching, mapping, and drafting are some of the uses for pointed pens.

Italic Nib | How A Fountain Pen Works

An italic nib is made from a straight edge, so it writes thin lines when you use side-to-side movements, and thick lines when you use up-and-down movements. They're usually measured in millimeters. True italics have sharp edges for precision. They're great for handwriting but not so easy to use for regular writing. Some italic nibs actually come with more rounded edges than others. However, some may not be suitable for calligraphy pens because they lack the precision a calligraphy artist would want. The correct term for this type of italic nib is a "cursive italic", but it's rare because it's not as popular as a regular italic.

Stub Nib | How A Fountain Pen Works

Stub nibs are becoming increasingly popular lately, but they're not really precise terms. It used to be called a stubby nib, but now it refers to any pen with a shorter barrel than a full-length one. It was originally used to refer to handwriting but has come to mean something between a regularly rounded nib and a more cursive italic nib. They'd give a nice bit of variation between side-to-side and up-and-down strokes while being quite practical for daily use. As they became popular, a number of manufacturers began referring to their italic nibs as stub nibs. But since their italic font was mostly rather rounded off at the edges, it isn't too far off.

If you're a calligra­pher and need those crisp edges, most italic nibs are probably too rounded for your needs. But you probably already know exactly what you need to do. If you're looking to write something more flamboyant, a stub might be what you want, but you'll need to take a little more care to line up the nib correctly on the paper.

And to make things even more complicated, some broad and extra-broad pens are actually a bit oval-shaped, so they would be considered "stubs" under the modern fountain pen.

Music nibs | How A Fountain Pen Works

A music nib is a nib that's been specially designed for musical notation. There are many different types of music nibs available, each with its own unique characteristics. Music nibs are often very expensive, and only a few companies produce them. Most music nibs are made out of metal or plastic tubes. Metal ones tend to be heavier and less flexible, while plastic ones are lighter and more pliable. The major difference between these nibs is that one has two slits and the other has four. Therefore, the former creates a larger stream of ink on the paper than the latter. You can find all these nibs at most art supply stores.

The Nib Choice | How A Fountain Pen Works

What makes a fountain pen special is the nib. If you have a pen that feels good in your hand but has an inferior tip, the pen isn't useful, so the tip is important. A bad nib can usually be fixed by adjusting the nib size, shape, angle, and/or pressure. On certain models of fountain pens, you can even swap out the nib and replace it with a different size or even an entirely different type of nib. Because of that, focus on the weight, balance, overall feel, and ergonomics of a pen rather than the nib. Unless the nib is completely awful, adjust it to suit your needs. You cannot change the size and weight.

When it comes to nibs, what matters most is choosing the right type for the kind of work you want to do with them. If you're writing very small, you may want to pick something in the fine to medium range and be particularly careful about which inks you choose. Those with larger handwriting and who don't need a broad nib or stub tend to be able to use a wider nib or stub. Unless your day job requires calligraphy, however, we generally advise people to use softer or less flexible nibs for everyday writing.

Eyedropper Fountain Pens

Eyedropper conversion for fountain pens is something that is talked about often in the pen community but can be hard to learn for new fountain pen users. The term might be confusing, and manufacturers often don't advertise this capability on their pens, so it's usually more experienced pen users that get to enjoy this pen capability.

The eyedropper term dates back over 100 years well before self-filing pens were invented. The vintage fountain pen weren't actually pens at all; they were just empty bodies that people would fill with an eyedropper. Most modern pens have some other filling mechanism, like a cartridge/converter or piston, but they can still be used as the primary filling method for certain pens.

Eyedropper Filler

The ink reservoirs of the earliest fountain pen were filled with eyedroppers type. This was a cumbersome process, which led to an alternative method becoming dominant in the industry. However, newer, easier-to-use filling mechanisms have never entirely replaced eyedropper pens in their marketplaces. They continue to be widely manufactured today. For some people, the convenience of the mechanism, coupled with the large volume of ink, makes up for the inconvenience of ink transfers.

After the eyedroppers-filler era came a new generation of mass-produced fillers, almost all using rubber sacs to hold the ink. This is compressed by various mechanisms to fill its reservoir.

Piston Filler

A piston filler has a built-in ink reservoir that allows the pen body to dip its nib and grip section directly into an ink container while turning the piston knob at the bottom of the barrel. This is preferred by fountain pen enthusiasts because they tend to have a larger ink capacity compared to cartridge-converter fountain pens.

The Difference Between Cartridge/Converter And Piston Fill Systems

The Difference Between Cartridge/Converter And Piston Fill Systems

A cartridge-converter pens work by inserting a separate part into the barrel of the pen. Either a cartridge or a converter, depending on which type of pen you're using, feeds ink into the pen's barrel. It's the most common and popular method. However, limited the ink cartridge and you will need to refill your pen often. If you're using it frequently or are always on the go, this isn't ideal. Converters are separate pieces of equipment that you need to buy separately from the initial purchase of a fountain pen.

A piston fill fountain pen has a large ink capacity and is ideal for writing for long periods of time without needing to refill. It is also suitable for writing for longer periods between refills. Since the filling mechanism has been built in, you don't need to worry about an additional piece, and usually, the quality and durability of piston fill pens are good quality and robust - no reason to worry about your little filling mechanism wearing out quickly. Piston fillers are a popular writing instrument that should definitely be good for your collection, or might just become your new everyday carry item.

The Modern Filling Mechanisms

The ink reservoir was open at the top but contained a roll of plastic tightly wound. To fill the ink reservoir was unscrewed, and the exposed open end of its reservoir was placed in ink. Around the year 2000, the fountain pen introduced a new filling system where the ink bottle was replaced by a special pen cap that fits into a hole at the back of the pen. Thus, the ink is then squeezed into a pen barrel which lacks any mechanism other than the cap itself. Most pens today use one of three different filling methods: a piston filler, a squeeze-bar filler, and a cartridge. Many pens are also capable of using a variety of different types of ink cartridges.

Ink Cartridge

Bottled ink and cartridge ink are two main types of pen ink. These cartridges contain a preset amount of ink. A cartridge typically holds around 1ml of ink, but some cartridges may contain less than 1ml of ink. This is compared to an average bottle of ink which can range from around 30ml to 100ml.

Proprietary Cartridge

Some luxury pen manufacturers design their pens to accept standard international size ink cartridges. Others do not. Some popular fountain pen manufacturers require their own proprietary ink cartridges, meaning they require ink cartridges made by the same brand as the pen itself. For example, Lamy fountain pens are only compatible with Lamy ink cartridges.

Ink Converter

Buying ink in bottles is a cheaper option than buying it in cartridges. However, it depends on the pen itself whether it will be easy to fill. If it is a demonstration pen, the ink will be stored inside the barrel. Most pens cannot take ink directly from the bottle, so you will need an ink converter to let fountain pens work with bottled ink.

It's basically a refillable ink cartridge that fits into the feed inside of the barrel. It will usually have a plunger that lets the ink flow into the converter. This is done when a pen is dipped into an ink bottle.

How To Refill A Fountain Pen

There are several ways to refill a fountain pen, but most of them are messy, and not all work for every pen. Early versions of fountain pens used techniques such as an eye dropper to fill ink from their reservoirs. A similar concept to a small, hand-cranked pump an internal pumping system, to used to create the vacuum. These approaches usually resulted not only in stained hands but also in spilled ink.

Most premium pens, including wood fountain pens, use high-quality, pre-filled ink cartridges. These cartridges are extremely reliable and prevent spillage when transferring ink from one container to another.

Wood fountain pen replacement inks, used with virtually every fountain pen, with non-hazardous ink, and 24-packs of refills to provide enough ink for several weeks or months of writing pleasure.

For thousands of years, people have been looking for a fountain pen that gives them an excellent writing experience. The search ended with Wood fountain pens. Our pens are of the highest quality, and with attention to detail. The fountain pen has always been part of the tradition.

The Power Of Pressure

If you changed the shape of the bottle so that there was a small hole at the bottom, what would happen? You can try this for yourself. If you're going to make a mess, go somewhere else. Fill a glass with water and put a lid on top. To turn the bottle upright again, you need to make a small hole at the bottom of the bottle. If the water doesn't come out at all, it will take some time before it comes out.

It's easy. It prevented the water from leaving the bottle because air pressure is pushing up against the water. The air pushes up against the hole, blocking it. If you make a smaller hole in the top of a bottle, you will be more likely to see the water coming through. Poured water into a bottle, it rises up because the air inside the bottle has less weight than the water. If you cover the air hole with your finger, the water will stop flowing. This is how a fountain pen works when you write with it.

The Proper Way of Taking Care Of Your Fountain Pen

The Proper Way of Taking Care Of Your Fountain Pen

Most people prefer using fountain pens instead of traditional ballpoint pens, gel pen, and rollerball pens because they can be used for any type of writing. They're also easier to use because you don't need to press that hard on your paper to make a mark, so they're less likely to cause damage to your hands.

This lets you write for longer periods without feeling tired. Besides, fountain pens are also better for the environment because they're not disposable. Unlike ballpoint pens that you can throw away when they run out of ink, these are reusable devices that you can keep using for years.

However, fountain pens are also sensitive and delicate writing instruments that require proper care and maintenance. To keep them lasting, you need to follow a series of steps. If you want to ensure that your fountain pen lasts for years to come, follow these simple steps:

Holding Your Fountain Pen

When using a fountain pen, you should hold it correctly. The nib is from malleable materials that conform to your writing style with repeated use, your pen should be used only by you. When you write, be sure to use an ink pen that receives even pressure on both halves of the nib.

You may find it difficult to hold a fountain pen body properly if you've never done it before. It takes practice to master the art of holding a fountain pen correctly. But once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to enjoy the benefits of owning a fountain pen for many years to come.

Storing your fountain pen

When not in use your fountain pen nib, kept it upright so the ink will flow back into the converter or cartridge when needed. Contrary to popular belief (and the advice of most writers), this will not prevent the drying or clogging up of the nib. It's also best if you put it into a case or a pouch so that it doesn't get scratched up. If you're taking your pen with you when you travel, make sure that the cartridge or converter has been inserted or removed before you fly.

If you're planning to store your fountain pen for long periods of time, then you might consider storing it in a humidor. Specially designed containers that have a special lining that keeps moisture in the container. A humidor will help protect your fountain pen from getting dry and cracked over time.

Cleaning Your Fountain Pen

Ink slit is a very common problem when using fountain pens. When you write, the ink flows through the tip of the pen and onto the paper. However, sometimes trapped the ink inside the pen, causing the ink to build up on the side of the pen. This can lead to problems such as the ink running out too quickly, or the pen becoming unusable. To prevent this, you need to clean the ink slits regularly.

Like your car that needs an oil change, your fountain needs internal cleaning, ideally every month. To start, carefully remove the cartridge or converter and flush the wet ink out using cold tap water. If the converter is integrated into the pen, it's best to fill the pen with cold water and then force it out by pushing it down on the barrel. To dry, all that's required is to gently blow air through the pen nib assembly to remove any moisture. You can also use some kind of soft cloth or paper towel for drying it further.

If you feel like excess ink has been stuck in the nib for some time, then gently remove the nib section from the pen and place it in a glass of clean water for at least one night. Put a piece of kitchen roll at the base of the pen to serve as a resting place for the nib and let all the ink flow into the paper. After rinsing the nib for the first time, rinse it again with lukewarm water. Blowing it gently to remove any excess moisture, then drying it thoroughly using a soft cloth or tissue will help keep it from cracking. This trick should work, allowing you to replace an old ink cartridge or converter, then continue writing.

Can You Use India Ink In A Fountain Pen

Many people don't know much at all about Indian ink. This ink is not only for artists and other creative people. It is a water-based ink that doesn't fade easily. You might wonder: Do I need India ink for a fountain pen?

This ink is not suitable for fountain pens. The ink contains ingredients that could damage or clog up the pen. There is only one brand that manufactures fountain pens specially designed for Indian ink. We'll go deeper into why and why not to use Indian ink in fountain pens.

Using India Ink In A Fountain Pen

You cannot use India ink in a Fountain Pen. India Ink is a water-based pigment, which needs a water-based medium for visibility. It is possible to use a fountain pen with water-based ink, but it is not advisable. Used the water to dilute the ink so that it runs smoothly. If you try to use it straight from the bottle, you'll be unable to make a mark. At the same time as the water can corrode the pen, it can also damage the ink cartridge.

The pigment is a type of dye. That means that instead of flowing like water, it clumps together like paint. If you imagine the ink pigment clumping into one big lump, it will clog the pen and you won't be able to clean it.

How Do You Remove India Ink From A Fountain Pen

Here are some tips for cleaning India ink from your fountain pen. Using denatured alcohol to clean the ink, which may damage your pen. Make sure your pen dried after you've cleaned it. You need to remember that these inks contain ingredients that could clog or even damage the pen mechanism, so you may have to clean your pen several times to remove all the ingredients.

Wet ink is very difficult to get out of the pen. To do this, soak the pen in warm water overnight. Then, take off the cap and put the pen upside down on a towel. Let it dry completely before putting the cap back on.

If you want to thoroughly clean something, you can use an ultrasound cleaner. If you're going to be using your pen the next day, don't wait until it's all dried up. Clean your pen if you aren't planning to use it the following day.


A fountain pen isn't just a pen. They can be a gift for yourself, a status symbol for others, or a calligraphy tool for artists. Regardless of how you use your pen, knowing the mechanics behind how a pen works are always important. By using this method, you can keep everything in perfect condition and know exactly which fountain pen will be best for you and your writing needs.

As long as you treat your pen well, you can ensure that you'll be able to use it for a long time. If you're looking for quality fountain pens, we have an extensive range of fine writing instruments that will suit your needs. If you're looking to buy fountain pens online, contact us to see how we might be able to help.


What was the impact on quill pens?

Not surprisingly, the development of iron and steel technology during the 18th and 19th century Industrial Revolution made quills obsolete: people found they preferred pens with durable metal nibs to all that endless turkey-chasing and quill sharpening.

What are the benefits of fountain pens?

We understand the value that fountain pens can add to penmanship. So we wanted to provide you with this guide that sheds a little light on these fancy pens.

Can Left-Handed Writers Use Fountain Pens?

It's a common misconception that left-handed writers can't use fountain pens. But the truth is that they can write with them without any issues.

Why buy a fountain pen?

They feel better in the hand.

What are the benefits of writing with a light touch?

Because of the light touch and flowing hand movements, your writing will naturally appear much clearer.

What Was the First Fountain Pen?

The earliest record of a fountain-like pen dates back to the 10th century. But fountain pens as we know them today came about in the late 19th century. When Lewis Waterman patented the first practical model.

How do fountain pens work?

Fountain pens work by managing the rate at which ink flows through the pen.

What happens when you use a fountain pen?

Every time the pen is upright. Gravity pulls ink from the reservoir and works it down to the nib, and onto the paper.

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

All comments are moderated before being published.

Read more

Types Of Fountain Pen Nibs

Types Of Fountain Pen Nibs

There are a variety of different types of fountain pen nibs options available. What is a fountain pen nib, really? The actual part of the pen used for writing is called the "nib". A fountain pen ha...

Read more
Beginner's Guide to Writing with a Fountain Pen
fountain pen

Beginner's Guide to Writing with a Fountain Pen

Fountain pens are a special writing experience that can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you're a beginner or a more experienced writer, this guide will teach you the basics of using fountain pens ...

Read more