Goulet Q&A Episode 34, Tips and Tricks



Here’s Goulet Q&A again, this time I took questions about Fountain Pen Tips and Tricks. I have a lot of great tips and tricks videos I’ve done already, mainly because I know that learning the little insider tricks are part of what make the fountain pen hobby so much more gratifying. I wanted to cover some questions that maybe I haven’t touched on before, and I got a few good tips I thought were worth sharing. 

I also have some things on my mind that I share in the beginning. This is the first week Rachel and I have put our kids in preschool, which has been a really tough thing for us to do. They’ve adjusted well, we’re still a bit of a wreck! I’m also realizing that I have a bit of a pen storage problem. I’m a relatively disorganized person in general, but really trying to get myself on track using David Allen’s method from his book Getting Things Done. I read this a year ago and started implementing some of it with success, and I’m realizing now that I need to really finish implementing my method. Part of that is organizing my pens since that’s a big part of what I do at work, so I’m currently seeking out storage solutions for the hundreds of pens I have (I know, I know, poor me, right?).

Here are this week’s questions on fountain pen tips and tricks:

1) @ThePenPro- Twitter (7:05):Where to lookup which replacement nibs you sell fit which pen(s)?

  • sticky b/c of warranties
  • Can’t really ‘advertise’ that they do fit, it’s really a hack
  • Lamy nibs all swap with each other, except Lamy 2000
  • Only other swappable ones are #6 and #5 (fewer)
  • Edison, Monteverde, TWSBI (sort of), Jinhao, Noodler’s, Delta


2) Clayton B.- Facebook (11:09)
Converters like Lamy and others use sometimes seem”airlocked” is there a fix?

3) Carolyn B.- Facebook (13:39):
Can you do a “Blotting 101.” Every time I try to blot wet ink, it smudges.

4) Nancy R.- Facebook (14:57):
What makes one ink “wet” and another “dry”? (no, not on paper after you write with it… lol; in the flow characteristics).

  • dye concentration and lubrication
  • ink is mostly water
  • dye is drier than water 
  • the more dye in the ink, the more lubricant must be added to maintain good flow
  • depending on the ratio of dye to lubricant, that will more or less determine flow
  • feed/nib also a factor, of course, as well as paper absorbency
5) Oscar S.- Facebook (17:30):
Ink damage? On clothes, furnitures, electronics, skin or what ever. Best way to remove and does the ink properties have any say in the matter? Like a bulletproof ink vs. a not so water resistant ink.

  • Stains?
  • Does depend on the ink
  • Noodler’s bulletproof inks are cellulose reactive
    • if you spill on cotton clothes, jute rug, paper, etc, stain will likely be permanent
    • double-edged sword!
  • other permanent inks like Iron Gall, Pigmented, not likely to remove
    • rubbing alcohol
    • nail polish remover
    • acetone
    • these are pretty harsh, could/will damage
  • Non-permanent ink
    • time is of the essence, the sooner you get it out, the better
    • don’t let it dry
    • blot it with water 
    • apply laundry detergent, let sit 3-5 minutes
    • wash in hottest water possible for type of clothing
6) Michelle O.- Facebook (23:15):
Why do certain pens leak in the cap? I have had issues with a Noodler’s Ahab and one of my TWSBI Minis. I tried with 5-7 different inks.

  • sometimes it’s the ink, maybe not the case here
  • depends how you’re carrying it, jostling around is not great
    • nib up in transit is ideal
  • Leak is different than drips, drips aren’t uncommon
  • heat set Noodler’s feed, video
7) Hannah F.- Facebook (26:50):
After the nib is no longer scratchy and the ink flows nicely, how are top-of-the-line pens different from, say, a Pilot Metropolitan?
  • gold nib is instant price boost
    • not necessarily smoother, but might feel so due to springy nib
    • softer metal
  • filling mechanism (piston, vac)
  • built quality (though Metro is pretty good)
  • type of material, cast resin, ebonite, celluloid, sterling silver, maki-e
  • country of manufacture
  • brand/reputation
  • limited editions
  • design/collaborations/artwork
8) Flavio A.- Facebook (29:45):
How can you detach a section that is glued to the barrel (like on the vintage Sheaffer Admiral – I believe the Snorkel is also glued)?

  • honestly? not my wheelhouse
  • many older pens secured with shellac
  • want to say heat them up to detach, but don’t hold me to that, never tried it
  • do more research, FPN Repair Q&A 
9) George A.- Facebook (31:08):
Hi Brian. Love the videos and the work you and your team do. My question relates to refilling ink cartriges. I like to reuse them instead of just throwing them away. In relation to the standard international cartriges, do you know of any company that has them with a larger capcity? The normal ones are very small and only hold a miniscule amount of ink. 
  • Pelikan
  • Private Reserve
  • Waterman?
10) Jessica O.- Facebook (32:34):
Use a glasses holder as a pen sleeve(the thin reader glasses holder can hold 1 pen and the normal size can hold more. It is padded!)

  • heard others do this too, works well! 
11) Jon B.- Facebook (33:11):
There has been a lot of discussion about inks that may damage fountain pens – my question is the corollary to all that. Are there inks that are regarded as “extra safe” or “very gentle” to fountain pen innards? Especially for vintage, rare, or expensive pens, it would be nice to know the ink is unlikely to ever cause a problem.

  • Assume inks with the pen maker’s name are ’safe’
  • many pen companies recommend their inks for warranty purposes
  • Organics Studio John Hancock and Blue Merle
12) Kevin L.- Facebook (36:34):
What tips do you have when your collection outgrows the pen display box? Are there any display holders for the overflow besides a bigger display case?
  • Aston-type leather pen case
  • Monteverde pen case
  • displays, vintage/ebay cases/displays for pen storage
  • pencase.co.uk– heard great things on FPN


13) @paul_joynes- Twitter (38:30):
When you are talking about bulb syringes, don’t forget to mention about using a cut down cartridge as an adaptor.

  • Good point! Great for Lamy, Pilot 


14) @normanperez- Twitter (40:28):
Is there a way of fixing a Safari cap that doesn’t close securely? It posts ok but it comes off when I close it.

  • Hmm…doesn’t sound good
  • check for cracks on grip section
  • likely a cracked/worn cap insert
  • Lamy USA doesn’t carry parts anymore, so replace whole pen or look for parts on ebay/FPN

15) Craig A.- Facebook (42:35):

What about a quick blurb on how to polish minor scratches from your fountain pen’s body.

  • jeweler’s cloth, safest for pen body and trim
  • acrylic polish
  • micromesh/Mylar (be careful of trim!) 
16) John H.- Facebook (48:10):
That fountain pen flush you sell….I typically use that after a thorough rinsing with plain tap water….so the flush can be re-cycled….not just a one-time use, right? I’ve seen good results with it. I used it on a Waterman Phileas last night belonging to my brother….and it did a great job of dissolving a lot of sludge in the nib and feeder.

  • Yes, use as long as you want
  • We include sample vial to decant flush into, use that as many times as you want, then dump when you can’t stand how gross it looks
    • even when looks gross, still cleans
  • flush with water, flush with flush, flush with water again

17) Tom J.- email (50:23):
Most of the Tips & Tricks I use came from your videos! Here are some I don’t remember being on your site. Some I heard elsewhere, several are my ideas.

  1. To start up a dry fountain pen, remove the converter or cartridge and hold the tip of the nib in the opening to wick up fresh ink.
  2. Use a kitchen strainer to hold small pen parts for rinsing over a sink.
  3. I keep a hemostat and lab tweezers with my pen supplies. They are great removing small parts from my ultrasonic cleaner or a soaking bottle, or handling to keep finger grease off of nib s and feeds.
  4. Sometimes my bulb syringe will not fit a pen section for flushing. I cut off the back of the cartridge for that pen and use it as an adaptor for the syringe (the bulb will not fit Sheaffer pen sections).
  5. I tie a cord to my Goulet ink syringe plunger with a loop for my thumb so I can use it one handed.
  6. Make removable labels for your ink wells: write the name of the ink on a piece of paper (I use parchment), punch a hole, make a loop (long enough to hang on the bottle) out of a piece of thin ribbon and pass through the hole. You can tie the end closed or seal it with J. Herbin sealing wax. Use non-stick foil, drip some wax on the non-stick side, place the ribbon on top of the hot wax, drip more wax on top of the ribbon, press your seal and let harden. This lifts off the foil and make a nice medallion. I lift the labels off when using the bottle. 

A special thanks goes out to everyone who asked me questions, I greatly appreciate it! If you’ve missed any previous Goulet Q&A’s, be sure to check them out here. Next week I’ll be going back to an Open Forum format, so ask any questions you want. Have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T14:04:39+00:00 June 6th, 2014|Goulet Q&A, Tips & Tricks|12 Comments
  • Julia Traver

    Re Blotting: Historically, people usually sprinkled a bit of sand over the page to aid the drying process; then, blotting paper would be used.

  • Dale Sharpe

    I would like to hear about the ink Drop theme and selection process. Also any friendly in office competitions. Like maybe whick employees favorite Ink Drop selection sells the best.

  • Thecla

    I spotted a little mistake.

    At 18.29 in the video you state that wool is a cellulose fiber but that is not the case. Wool (and other animal fibers such a silk) is a protein fiber and Noodler's cellulose reactive inks do not bond to it. In fact I tested it just to be sure and Noodler's Legal Lapis washed away completely from 100% wool fabric (using hand temperature water and dish soap).

    Sorry if I'm being too nitpicky but as a knitter this just jumped at me.

    Other cellulose fibers would be linen, hemp, jute, etc. There are also cellulose based synthetic fibers such as rayon (viscose), acetate, lyocell and tencel but I'm not sure whether the inks would bond with those.

  • Michele Harvey

    For pen storage?
    Desktop dental tool cabinets? (Especially vintage oak?)
    Perhaps stored alphabetically for ease of finding?
    Just a thought…

    Also, it would be great to have a list by make/model of pen nib size (#5,#6) on your site to refer to. It seems I have a penchant for recently discontinued & defunct companies and pens and it would be wonderful to have a reference for nib swapping, simply by listing the standard nib size by make/model. Since you offer your fine Goulet nibs as well as Edison (with the additional #5 nibs) this reference would be most useful, with the caveat that nib-swapping is at one's own risk (of course!)
    heh-heh…as if you don't have enough to do already…
    I did email and got an immediate response from Katy at Goulet Pens, who helped me track down a nib size on one of my discontinued pens (Thanks Katy!)
    A reference for pen sizes would mean I wouldn't have to pester anyone about nib sizes.
    Thanks for all you do!

  • TJ

    Great information Thecla, I was wondering about wool. My brother spilled some Noodler's Black on his carpet and it cleaned right out (being wool or nylon). Cotton/polyester fabrics would also stain. Wood is cellulose, so Noodler's bulletproof inks would bond to unfinished wood. Brian, I would love to see a photo of Rachel's ink stained desk! Talk about making memories.

  • TJ

    One idea for a small agitator to add to a convertor is to use a proper sized bead. A glass, gem, or ceramic bead should work well. The hole in the bead would not hurt anything. A faceted crystal bead, or amethyst, rose quartz, etc. would be nice.

  • TJ

    Here is a pen display in acrylic that holds 10 pens on a desk or table. Small footprint, you can put several side by side. Keeps the pens handy in their slots. Not expensive. Read the reviews for more details. http://www.amazon.com/WoodRiver-Waterfall-Pen-Display-Stand/dp/B003ASB9CW/ref=cm_rdp_product

  • Anonymous

    What happened to Scribal Work Shop inks?

  • Dogs

    Brian, this is another great Q&A. Your Fountain Pen 101 was the start of my fountain pen obsession's second wind. Thanks for doing these, you are wonderful.

  • GimmeeCookiee

    Q for Q&A: Hi Brian. Do you have any insight on why pen companies don't make full flex nibs anymore? From the popularity of semi-flex pens such as the Pilot Falcon and the Noodlers' flex pens, I would have thought that there is a huge demand for modern gold flex nibs.

  • Shyner

    I like the choices this month. Very work usable friendly. Discovered this morning that the salamander that looks great on clairfontaine paper is nasty feathery greasy bleed through in my book journal. First time I've had that happen but it is probably just a paper issue. Thoughtful choices for this months drop!

  • John T Wildman

    I liked the Pelikan Edelstein Adventurine – tough name, cool color.
    I'm not sure this is the place to ask this question, but are there rules as to how much of each ink color is included in a tube? Thank you.