How to get the ink flowing on a fountain pen

Written by traci bridges
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The first basic fountain pen was invented by L.E. Waterman in 1884. Waterman created an ink feed system that allowed ink to be stored in a pen and flow through a feed over a nib and onto paper. That system evolved through the years into today's fountain pen, allowing writers to be away from their desk and jar of ink to write. But as with all systems, ink flow problems can arise when the system doesn't work properly. If the ink in your pen isn't flowing as it should, there are several ways to jump start it.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Razor blade

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  1. 1

    Make sure the ink cartridge is firmly attached to the pen. If it is securely attached, store the pen vertically with the nib pointing downward for a short time to allow the ink to flow to the nib. If the ink still doesn't flow, your fountain pen could be clogged.

  2. 2

    Remove the nib from the pen, and soak it in warm water for five minutes. Soak only the nib. Other parts of the pen that are not in regular contact with ink might not be waterproof. Reassemble the pen after cleaning, and test ink flow. If this doesn't help, try the next step.

  3. 3

    Insert a razor blade slowly and carefully through the tip of the pen into the small gap between the two tines of the nib. Withdraw it slowly and carefully. This should clean that area. Test the pen once again for ink flow.

  4. 4

    Remove the bottom of the pen if the ink is still not flowing. You should then be holding the nib and the ink cartridge. Squeeze the ink cartridge until ink bubbles through the nib. Reassemble the pen, and test the ink to make sure it continues to flow.

Tips and warnings

  • If none of these remedies work, send your pen to a pen repair professional or the manufacturer. The nib may need to be adjusted or the pen may need to be replaced.
  • Make sure you cap your fountain pen anytime you are not using it. This should help maintain ink flow.

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