I used to sell nib smoothing kits and I always warned customers not to overdo the smoothing, ending up with a nib that is smooth because it has a large flat spot: such nibs have no character and leave a dull line with little or no variation. The following comments/instructions were included with my nib smoothing kits and may be useful to a few newbees who want to venture into the realm of the nibmeisters...
Before attempting a nib smoothing operation:
1.Examine the nib with a powerful loupe. Ideally you will need a 30X loupe, a 10X loupe is the absolute minimum required. Ensure the tines are properly lined up and the gap between them is appropriate for the type of nib. Most scratchy nibs can be made smooth by simply adjusting the tines. Use your fingers or a suitable set of nib pliers. ( I recommend using fingers and thumb only. It is easy to cause damage when using any type of tool, even nib pliers).
2.If the iridium is uneven, dull or mis-shapen, start the smoothing operation.
Use the roughest mylar first (9 micron – grey) if major reshaping is required. Use the mylar wet (water or ink) and make sure it is on a smooth,
flat surface. Finish when the desired, regular shape is achieved. Make sure no flat spots are present. After reshaping of the iridium, it may be necessary to polish the inside of the tines. Do this by running the edge of the 3 micron mylar sheet between the tines, slowly, at an even speed. A couple of inches length should suffice.
Examine the nib often under a loupe. When the proper shape is obtained, proceed with the polishing of the iridium.
Start with the second-largest mylar grade (5 micron – grey) and gradually work down to the finest grade (0.3 micron – white). Move slowly and avoid repetitive movements that will create a flat spot (bad!). The secret is to know when to stop! A flat spot may give the impression of smooth writing, but in fact provides a very characterless writing experience, akin to using a paint brush! Remember, use the lightest touch. Experience will show that even a short touch on the mylar, barely caressing the surface, will yield a detectable result. Test the nib often on good paper. Move the nib lightly in a radial fashion on the writing paper, like the spokes of a wheel, starting from the center. This will evidence any imperfections in the iridium. To correct them try a short, very light pass on the mylar in the direction in which the roughness was felt or, and sometimes this is even more effective, in a direction 180º opposite to the one in which the roughness was felt. Finish off by tracing circles and figure 8s, very lightly, over the 0.3 micron sheet.
Remember: the secret to success in nib smoothing is knowing when to stop!
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