How To Get A Fountain Pen Started

Ways to Get Your Pen Writing Again

Getting a fountain pen started, is surely a frustrating scenario if you don’t know where to actually begin. If you're new to the hobby; you may not know where to start when trying to solve this type of problem; We’re here to share with you some of the most common tips for troubleshooting; writing issues with your beloved fountain pens.

how to get a fountain pen started

Make Sure the Cartridge is Set-Up Properly

Cartridges are a good alternative if you want a cleaner ink experience. But sometimes they can cause problems if they're not properly inserted. Be sure the cartridge is inserted correctly and firmly seated. If there are any gaps between the cartridge and the feed; it will prevent the capillary flow of the ink down the feed. Make sure that the cartridge is completely filled with ink and that the ink has saturated the feed. You may need to squeeze the pen to get ink to flow through the feed channel.

Clean it up!

Cleaning a pen is hands down the best solution; for a pen that won't write. on getting a fountain pen started; Whether it's residual materials from the manufacturing process or clumps of dried ink from a previous fill, anything that obstructs the feed can also stop the flow of ink. You can use a cup of warm water or running water from your tap to clean your nib and feed. You'll want to clean out the nib and feed the pen to remove any obstructions. If it's particularly stubborn, you can use a bulb syringe to help push the clog out by yourself.

Use a Brass Sheet to Floss the Tines

Nibs can sometimes get stuck on paper fibers through your writing endeavors. You can easily remove debris from between the teeth by using a brass sheet. You can clean the nib by removing it from the pen or by using a toothbrush. To clean the brass easily, simply slide the brass between the tines a couple of times.

Switching Inks Is A Good Idea

Is your pen writing smoothly or skipping mid-stroke? Your ink choice could cause the problem. Clean your pen well and consider re-filling it with wetter ink than usual. If you want some suggestions for inks to try and which one to possibly avoid; when using a wet pen, check out our top wet and dry inks. Fountains pens are sneaky because they tend to spread ink and you could end up having an inky tongue or mouth. If you encounter a pen flow issue; we hope that you will remember some of the tips mentioned here and be able to fix the problem yourself.

Cartridge or Converter?

Some pens come with converters supplied as standard, but others don't. If you don't already have one, you might want to start out with the cartridge provided. With a bottle of ink and an appropriate converter, you have the option.

If you want to get started with a new fountain pen, you can buy a cartridge, but if you're just starting out, you can save the cartridges for emergencies and instead learn to use the converter first. We'll explain how you can use a converter later in the post.

Some fountain pens don't use cartridges or converters, instead of having their own filling mechanisms. For example, the Lamy 2000, for instance, most TWSBI Pens, and Pelikan's Sovereign and Tradition Ranges, have pistons inside their barrels to fill them with ink, and no option; to refill them using cartridges. Fitting the converter is very similar to the filling process described below, but you don’t need to fit the converter before you fill the body.

There are some other ways to fill fountain pens; like the ones used in some Viscount pens and TWSBI Vac pens. They're fairly unusual though.

how to get a fountain pen started

Know Your Cartridges

A cartridge is simply an empty plastic tube filled with ink One end is designed for piercing when the cartridge is pushed into place. Usually, it's fairly obvious which end should be inserted first because it's more interesting-looking, usually featuring a recess where the top part of a feed enters the cartridge, and a small ball keeps it sealed. The cartridge fits into its place with a firm push and clicks into place. Sometimes they're easier to push than you might expect; just give them a firm push.

The ink won't flow right away.

The black plastic part extending from the tip of the pen to the underside of the pen nib, known as the reservoir, is where the ink goes when you write. Because they're so thin, it takes a while before the first ink makes its way to the nib sometimes the ink will start flowing right away, but sometimes it will take a few moments before it starts flowing. If you're going to use a fountain pen, just leave it sitting in its pen pot or cup for a few minutes, but if you're using a pen pot or cup, make sure the cap is on so the nib is protected from damage.

When the ink has reached the tip of the pen, your pen should be good to go and you can start writing. Don't be discouraged if the flow isn't as good as you'd hoped at first. Ink flow is sometimes a bit restricted at first and gradually improves with use.

Maybe it needs some replacing?

If the cartridge needs replacing, the ink shouldn't take as much time to flow again, unless it had completely emptied and the ink in the reservoir had dried out. It's best not to use this pen, anyway, because dried ink can clog it up. If you switch to a different ink color (or colors), some of the old ink will show up for a few days until the new ink has completely replaced the old one. Gradually, the ink will fade from the old color to the new one.

Have A Better Understanding of Converters

If you're starting out with a converter, it might already be fitted into the pen. If it isn't a cartridge, they fit in the same way a cartridge fits. Push the open end of the feed onto the back of the bowl. There are some converter plugs that screw in instead, which is uncommon but should be fairly obvious if they have screws there.

Converter pens almost always use a piston - you rotate the top part of the pen and a piston inside will move towards the open end (the nib when it's in a pen). Winding the piston down to the bottom first. Dip the whole of the nib in your ink, making sure that it's completely immersed.


Keep winding the piston back up until the nib is completely submerged. When the piston is at its highest point, lift the pen out of the cartridge. At this point, you should be able to see that the converter is filled with ink. If it isn't working, don't worry, try again. You probably didn't have the entire nib and feed in the pen, or the converter isn’t properly seated. If you see plenty of ink, but lots of air bubbles too, then some of the ink was getting in at the exact same time as the air.

To get a fountain pen started at this point, most people just wipe the nib clean to remove any excess ink and consider their job done. There's one extra little trick, though: You can use it to keep your documents, desk, and maybe even your carpet clean. Hold the pen with the nib pointing at the ink, and wind the piston back down until it touches the ink. Let a few drops of ink fall back into the inkwell.

Hold the pen just above the ink, but don't wind it too fast. If you turn the pen too quickly, some pens may send the ink slightly sideways. Now wind the piston down again. This pulls a little air back into the ink cartridge, which makes it less saturated with ink. It also leaves the inside of the printer at a slightly lower pressure than before. Both of these effects help prevent the pen from dripping ink, which could otherwise happen shortly after filling up.

You can see all the converters we have for sale, but it's usually better to buy the same brand as your pen. If, however, it takes standard international cartridges, then it's likely to take a standard international converter. It's a good value and seems like it fits a wide variety of pens well.

how to get a fountain pen started

Maintenance Care For Your Pen

You've just bought yourself a new pen, so now you'll want to keep using it for a long time. Most fountain pens can last for several years if they're well cared for. The most important thing when it comes to avoiding problems is the ink that you feed into your pen.

In getting a fountain pen started, any fountain pen ink should be okay, but if you're buying something called "calligraphy ink" or "drawing ink," it's probably not going to work well with a fountain pen.


This makes a great range of fountain pens in many colors, and they're very good quality, but any ink from an established brand should work. On getting a fountain pen started, some special inks may be safe to use if you take precautions, but they can pose some risks. You can use these ink for very intense colors or where there's a requirement for waterproof ink - easy enough to avoid if you don’t need them, but take some extra care if you do!

If your pen is not going to be used for some time, it's best to remove the ink from it so it doesn't get dried up inside, followed by flicking it through with water by refilling and emptying the converter repeatedly. If you don't own a converter, just soaking your nib and grip section in warm water will get most of the ink out of them.

There are different opinions on whether to flush fountain pens that are in daily use. On getting a fountain pen started Some people say they should be flushed with water every so often, while others just keep filling them up and using them. Using a fountain pen frequently enough won't cause any damage, but flushing through with water may not be necessary if you use the pen often enough.


How do I clean my pen?

To clean your nib and feed, you can use a cup of water or running water from the tap.

How do I get rid of a clog?

You'll want to run water through the nib and feed to free the obstruction.

Can I Clean the nib tines?

By utilizing a brass sheet, you can remove debris from between the tines with ease.

How do you clean the tines?

Simply swipe the brass sheet between the tines a few times to clear any debris with ease.

What Can You Do About Dry Pen Writing?

Give your pen a good cleaning and consider refilling with wetter ink.

Can I use a fountain pen?

A fountain pen is sneakily prone to spreading and you could end up with an inky tongue or teeth.

What do you think?

Your ink choice could be the problem.

What are the problems with a cartridge?

But occasionally they present problems if they aren't properly inserted.

How do I get the ink down the feed?

You may need to give it a squeeze to help move ink down the feed channel.

How long will a fountain pen last?

With reasonable care, most fountain pens can last for many years.

What is the best fountain pen ink?

Diamine makes a great range of fountain pen inks, in many colors, and they're very safe, but any ink from a known brand should work.

Can I use specialist inks safely?

Some specialist inks can be used reasonably safely with care, but bring extra risks.

How do I clean my ink converter?

If your pen isn't going to be used for a while, it's best to empty the ink out of it so it doesn't dry inside, followed by flushing it through with water by filling and emptying the converter.

What is a cartridge?

A cartridge is simply a small plastic tube filled with ink.

How do I use a cartridge?

One end is designed to be pierced when the cartridge is pushed onto the feed.

What is the Plastic Part?

The black plastic part that extends from the tip of the cartridge to the underside of the nib, known as the feed, is where the ink flows through very fine channels.

How do I know if the ink flow is good?

Ink flow is sometimes a bit restricted at first and gradually improves with use.

What happens when I change the ink?

The ink won't start flowing immediately.

What is the difference between a pen converter and a cartridge?

A cartridge is an easier way to get started with a fountain pen, but if you're only intending to use bottled ink, you can save the cartridge for an emergency and instead start by learning to use the converter.

What about the pens?

A few fountain pens don't use a cartridge or a converter, instead of having their own fixed filling mechanism.

What are some other filling mechanisms?

There are some other filling mechanisms around, like the vacuum filling systems used in some Visconti pens and the TWSBI Vac pens, but they're fairly unusual.

How do I use a converter?

Almost all converters use a piston - you turn the top part of the converter and a piston inside will wind down towards the open end (towards the nib when it's in the pen).

How do I know if the converter is full of ink?

You should be able to see at this point that the converter is full of ink.

What's wrong with the converter?

If it isn't, don't worry, just try again - you probably didn't have the whole nib and feed in the ink, or the converter isn't properly seated.

How do you make the converter less saturated?

Now wind the piston back up to the top. This pulls a little bit of air back up through the feed, making it less saturated with ink, and it leaves the inside of the converter at a slightly lower pressure.

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