Using our Sketch and Music nibs

Note: This page is close to being finished. We post it anyway because it contains useful information. We will complete this page by July 10, 2024. 

We provide two nibs designed for casual drawing that are flexible and durable.

One is our Sketch nib, which has only one slit.
The other is our Music nib, which has two slits.

They are similar in size and shape - the only difference is the tip - our Sketch nib has one slit and two tynes (sides) while our Music nib has two slits and three tynes.

Note: If your Sketch or Music nib arrives with the tynes misaligned, especially crossed where one tyne bent over the other - don't worry - you can return them to the original shape. These nibs are durable, flexible and adjustable. First press the tynes between your fingers massage the tynes into their proper position. Press the tynes into alignment. The tynes in Sketch nibs have a tendency to cross more frequently than Music nibs, but it's easy to realign both of them.

Our Sketch and Music nibs approximate the size and shape of Manga G nibs but provide additional advantages.

  • Move the nibs in any direction quickly and smoothly. You can enjoy the feel of your nibs skating over the paper because the tip isn't as sharp as Manga G nibs.
  • Press down firmly on our nibs to maximize the flex. It is almost impossible to "spring" these nibs. They have great memory, and are difficult to extend past the point where they don't spring back.
  • Smooth the tips when paper has roughened their surface. Some people are surprised to learn that paper can wear down metal.
  • Reshape your Sketch or Music nib for your own purpose. You can form chisel tips, pointed tips, and every shape in between. Great for creating stub nibs, Steno nibs, and what are called "handed nibs" or nibs slanting left for right handers and slanting right for left handers. It's easier to reshape Sketch nibs. Music nibs are constrained from major reshaping by the two ink channels.

Our Sketch and Music nibs can't provide the fine line you get with Manga G nibs, but you can draw fine lines with them by turning the nib on its edge.

Our Sketch and Music nibs fall somewhere between dip nibs and fountain pen nibs. They are not tipped, like fountain pen nibs, but they are more durable than dip nibs and won’t rust, snap, or break. The tip will wear over time and with use. That’s why we suggest you learn how to polish your Sketch or Music nibs so they remain in top operating shape. It doesn’t take much time or trouble to polish a nib, and it helps you pay attention to the way your nib behaves.

We sell lapping film you can use to smooth and reshape your Sketch and Music nibs. If you find yourself without lapping film, or you don't want to pay for it, use paper from a brown shopping bag. Wet the paper using just enough water to make the surface a bit softer, then move your nib in circles on the paper. The results will be similar to what lapping film gives you.

Suggestions for successful polishing

  • Use a light hand. Position the nib lightly on the lapping paper. The more you press, the more material you will remove from the nib. Just let the nib skate over the paper.
  • Check your progress frequently. Make a few swirls of the nib on the paper, then check your results. It doesn't take much effort to remove scratchiness from the nib, and you don't want to remove more material than is necessary.
  • Start by drawing a few tight circles, then test your progress by dipping the nib into ink and drawing with it. You can polish nibs with ink in the pen if that’s easiest. We recommend using a dry nib, however, you can wet the nib first.
  • Some people recommend drawing figure 8's while others say continuous tight circles are better. Find what works best for you. Don’t polish for more than a few seconds without checking your progress. Test your results by drawing on paper. You can dip the nib into ink or water to leave your mark.
  • Try to determine whether the nib feels smooth. If it doesn’t, polish again, just a few more circles. Roll the nib so you polish the edges. You decide when you're finished by the feel of the nib on paper. If the nib catches on the paper, polish that spot of the nib.
  • As the final step, make sure the tynes or sides of the nib are aligned correctly and one tyne isn't "cocked" or riding above the other. You can adjust the tynes easily by pressing on them with your fingers.

Reshaping our nibs

Smoothing nibs means removing nicks and burrs that arise from abrasion with paper. Reshaping your nibs means removing material to reshape the tip of your nib so the drawn line is different. Reshaping can have dramatic effects on the performance of the nib.

The most common reshaping is done to make a stub nib, as shown in the middle on the left. To get the stub shape, trim off the tip so it is flat, like a chisel.

Another example is to turn the nib into a “leftie” for left handed people. In this case, you reshape the nib to match the general shape of your left foot, as shown on the right side.

Reshaping is an extreme form of polishing. Removing material from the nib changes the behavior of the nib, and doing this correctly takes practice and experience. You can make broad nibs finer but you can’t make them broader.

For more information on polishing nib, read Notes for Richard Binder's Nib Smoothing Workshop.