FP101- Terminology 1, Parts of a Fountain Pen

There is a lot of basic terminology that I’m going to be using in future Fountain Pen 101 videos. It will be much more helpful for you to have the foundation of understanding what all the parts of a pen are called and how they work before you learn the more subjective aspects of the use of a fountain pen.

All of these terms (and many others) can be found in the Fountain of Knowledge on GouletPens.com under the Glossary of Terms, as well as Common Online Abbreviations to make it easier for new fountain penners cruising forums and blogs to understand the slang.

In this video, I’m focusing on the parts of a fountain pen. Here I cover the following terms (with time markers for the video, for easy reference):

  • Nib (0:31)
  • Tip/tipping material (1:06)
  • Slit (1:30)
  • Tines (1:49)
  • Breather hole (2:15)
  • Wings (2:45)
  • Feed (3:03)
  • Feed Channel (3:23)
  • Fins (3:50)
  • Filler hole (4:34)
  • Body/barrel (5:15)
  • Grip Section (5:31)
  • Reservoir (5:54)
  • Threads (6:22)
  • Cap (6:51)
  • Finial (7:15)
  • Clip (7:37)
  • Trim/hardware (7:54)
There are a lot more terms, for sure, but this will help to give you a solid foundation for the parts of a fountain pen as I continue to talk about them ongoing. Next week I’ll be covering FP101 Terminology 2, Fountain Pen Use Terms. These will include terms such as shading, dry time, bleed through, flow, nib creep, and a lot more terms that involve fountain pens, ink, and paper as they all interact with each other.

A picture of a pen with labels describing all of the parts of a fountain pen

Let me know what you think in the comments! I’d love to know what terms you’d like me to clarify in future videos. See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet
2017-10-11T13:45:52+00:00 May 11th, 2012|Fountain Pen 101|23 Comments
  • Writetomeoften

    Thanks for great effort. 

  • duncan

    Great video, I learned a lot. Which pens were used in this video?

  • Nicky

    Very informative! 

  • Pel

    Wish I had a resource like this when I was just get interested in FPs.  FPN, of course, is great, but a newcomer can feel a bit lost with all the jargon tossed around on a typical post.  Great stuff.

  • Pel

    *"just getting interested"

  • You're welcome!

  • Oh gosh, I used a bunch of pens. I didn't want the specific pens to be the focus, more just the parts. I think most of the pens I ended up using are in the 'nib' part at 0:31, and from front to back those are Lamy Vista, Platinum President in burgundy, Noodler's Konrad Flex brown tortoise, Pelikan m800 blue italic, Pilot Custom 74 blue, TWSBI VAC-700 smoke.

  • Thanks! I'll have more videos like this coming, getting more advanced. 

  • That's EXACTLY why I'm doing this. I was the same way, I had to dig through thousands of threads on FPN and through random blogs and websites to try to figure out what was going on. I spent so much time and effort learning and relearning things, and it would have saved me tremendous effort if I had things explained to me like this. I know it doesn't have to be as hard as it was for me, and it can't be that hard if fountain pens are going to continue to stick around. So I'm going to take everything I know and put it to good use teaching others the way I wish I had been taught.

  • David

    "The clip, cap band, etc. is called the Trim or Hardware"

    Often these pen parts are referred to as "Furniture". For example, "I ordered the pen with gold tone furniture."

  • Ah, thanks! I haven't heard this term used very often, but it rings a bell now that you mention it. Thanks for the tip!

  • Joshua

    This is a good introduction, as is the glossary on the Goulet Pens site.

    One question I've wondered about: what do #5, #6 etc. mean in reference to nibs? Another site suggests it depends entirely on the manufacturer, but that wasn't clear to me when I was reading your posts about the new Edison pens.

  • JR

    Thanks for this excellent presentation! I´m a newbie what comes to these fashionating things as FPs are, so especially the difference between the tip and the nib was clarifying.

    When people sell Fps, they say the nib size is F, M, … Isn´t that actually the size of the tip? Not nib.

    The filler hole… It´s very often hidden somewhere… I checked my FPs I have and I saw no hole in any of those pens. Until this day I thought they should be filled in such way that they are submerged up to the breather hole. Am I doing something wrong here? After submersion and filling, should I flush the feed under a water tap or can I leave the inks stains dry?

    My next interest is the tipping material. The pros and cons of tip materials.. steel, iridium, titanium.. How does it affect to writing experience?

    If you have some older pens with their "archaic" filling systems, maybe you would like to introduce them? I´m looking forward to get a vintage pen some day in the future. I would like to learn about from those techniques and their pros and cons.

    Last but not least it would be nice if you have time to make a video about how to maintain Fps in good shape (e.g. cleaning, flushing, some ppl use ammonia solution to clean clogges etc.). Many of beginners may use inks which are for calligraphy writing. According the FPN that may be the worst thing you can make to your Fp.

  • The #5, #6 etc refers to the size of the nibs. I'm not sure actually if these numbers are standard across all manufacturers, I believe they are somewhat of a standard though. 

  • JR, lots of great questions here! Yes, the 'size of the nib' such as fine, medium, broad, etc refers to the size of the tip, not the whole nib itself. It's a referral to how big of a line the pen will write, and what affects that is the size of the tip.

    The filler hole is usually hidden, I picked a pen for the video that was pretty easy to see. Usually the hole is not actually on the back of the feed, but usually up in the grip section. It varies by manufacturer. In any case, it's always a good idea to submerse the pen all the way until the grip section starts to get into the ink, then you're definitely going to get a good fill. Any excess ink you just wipe away with a paper towel as soon as you fill it. 

    The tipping material itself is actually not that different from one pen to another, it's usually some kind of iridium alloy. When you see different nib materials used, that's referring to the nib itself, not the tip. This part gets a little confusing, which is why I didn't get too much into it in this video. Nib materials could be their own topic.

    As for different filling mechanisms, I will cover these in future videos. I don't know how much I'll get into vintage one as I'm a 'modern' guy and I don't have many archaic pens myself, but I'll cover what I know. 

    Pen maintenance is going to be a topic I'll cover in its own post, pretty soon too. It's one of the more important (but often overlooked) aspects of fountain pen usage. And yes, using calligraphy ink in fountain pens is VERY bad, like using diesel fuel in a gasoline engine…calligraphy ink is shellac-based, and will dry up and cure inside the pen, ruining it. Fountain pen inks are water-based, and clean and flow much easier. Calligraphy inks are for dip pens only. 

  • Wow, very helpful. That blue pen looks beautiful! I wish I could make a request for future videos to help you along, but I have nothing. Nothing, that is, except for a desire to learn more.

  • Ah yes, the Custom 74…it's one of my favorites. I'm glad you're looking forward to more…I'm always open to ideas for future videos, but don't worry, I have a LOT of ideas on my own already 😉

  • Plume145

    Can you really just pull out the nib+feed out of the grip section just like that, or is it more of a 'don't try this at home' kind of thing?

    It's just that I've been fiddling with fountain pens for years, and that is one thing I never thought I'd risk doing, even though I've otherwise messed around with them a fair bit – I never dared do this! But if it's feasible, then I would like to know because it's potentially really useful for learning more about your pen, not to mention cleaning it even better!

  • It's not so much a 'don't try thins at home' situation, but more of a 'try at your own risk' thing. Most pens will allow you to pull the nib and feed out, but others won't and may require a special tool or some kind of special knowledge to do it right. What I'd do is try to find a blog or video of someone taking apart each specific pen you want to take apart, and see if you can get some good tips to do it that way. I'm pretty comfortable doing it on most of my pens, but there are a few that I just leave alone (such as the Pilot Custom 823, which has very explicit instructions not to take it apart). 

  • Plume145

    okay, got it! that makes sense 🙂 Thanks for replying! 

  • Sure thing! The tough thing about fountain pens is that some companies still have a mentality that people will only screw up their pens if they try to take them apart, so they try to scare people from doing so. I personally think that taking apart a pen and knowing how it works makes you learn it better and therefore enjoy it more. Anyone taking apart a pen just needs to be smart about it, research it as much ahead of time as you can, and if you do screw something up just realize you may be voiding the warrantee on the pen (if it has one) so you have to accept that risk.

  • Lila Escobar

    Im so sad and mad I received a beautiful pen and bullet journal today and BOOM my pen fell and freaking BROKE I wanted to DIE

  • Ralph Lewis

    New to the world of fountain pens and just received an Aurora Optima. Nice pen however, I cannot get it to unscrew at the barrel. Any suggestions. Disappointed