FP101: Fountain Pens for Lefties


I started a Fountain Pen 101 Series more than three years ago, and ever since then at GouletPens.com we’ve been getting asked about doing one especially for left-handed fountain pen users. It’s a great idea…but I’m definitely not a lefty! Well, we’ve talked to a lot of lefties and put together the best information we could (with some left-handed chicken-scratch to demonstrate). Enjoy!

Fun facts about lefties:
  1. Today is International Left-handers day: August 13! That’s why we decided to launch this post today 🙂 
  2. Of the last 7 US Presidents, 5 are left-handed! 
  3. 10% of population that’s left-handed
  4. Why are they called southpaws?
  • originally terms for left-handed baseball players
  • pitchers traditionally face west, so a pitcher throwing left-handed would have his left hand on the south side of his body

Lefties are likely underrepresented in the FP world because of the challenges:
  • ink smearing
  • drag/rough feel on the page
    • challenges with certain nibs like flex or italic
  • potential flow issues 
Pushing motion more than pulling (like a righty would)
  • nib size will be impacted (based on drag/feel of the nib)
  • ink options, dry time/smearing
Pen angle matters
  • 45 degree angle is ideal for lefties or righties
  • coming from ballpoints/rollerballs most people hold their pens at a steep angle
  • lefties feel a lot more “tooth” with high angles in the push motion
  • try to drop that thing down if you can


Hand positions:

#1 Underwriter
mirror image of righty

  • mirror image of righty
  • hand does not smear overtop of writing
  • this position allows for most versatility in pen/ink choice
  • many writers with this hand position don’t have to take nib sizes or inks into consideration


#2 Side-writer
hand is in-line with the writing



  • hand in-line with writing
  • most potential for smearing
  • fast-drying ink is essential
  • smaller nib sizes are best (EF, F), though there will be a factor of personal preference here
  • flex nibs will be a challenge due to push motion
  • stub nibs can be used but might look odd due to the angle
  • turning paper to the left could help fix smearing issues


#3 Overwriter (hook handed)
hand is over the line of writing



  • hand is over the line of writing
  • still a potential for smearing, not quite as bad as side-writers
  • sometime exaggerating the “hook” can actually help prevent smearing
  • fast-drying ink helps
  • flex nibs are basically unusable
  • stub nibs actually emulate a righty, just coming from the opposite angle!
  • paper turning might end up being rather extreme with this hand position
Important!! Practice can change habits/experience
  • fountain pen will force you to slow down, practice intentionally
  • I’ve heard from lefties who found their existing hand position restricting, so they intentionally retrained themselves to be underwriters


Product Recommendations:
Personal preference comes into play with nib size, smearing vs. drag- for all lefties

Underwritiers: 
  • little special consideration is needed apart from righties
  • generally no smearing issues, most nib sizes work well
  • does present challenge with stub or flex nibs, may require turning the paper drastically


Side-writers and Overwriters:

Ink:

Pens:

  • really fine nibs for a fine line (may drag though): most anything Pilot, Platinum Preppy EF, Faber-Castell EF
  • avoid soft nibs, flex nibs, and stubs
  • some prefer medium nibs b/c they’re smoother
  • Pilot Metropolitan (fine or medium)
  • Lamy Safari with swappable nibs, EF and M
  • left-handed nibs: don’t bother, hard to find and most lefties say it doesn’t feel different than a medium nib

Paper:

  • Will really depend on your nib and ink choice, and personal preference
  • Rhodia seems to be a popular recommendation, but you might want faster dry time
  • Clairefontaine is even smoother, but dry time will be a little longer
  • Leuchtturm, Field Notes, Apica are slightly more absorbent
  • Goulet notebook sampler set
  • experimentation will be key here based on your nib/ink preference

It’s worth checking out threads on Fountain Pen Network and Reddit for more opinions of left-handed fountain pen users.
Be sure to check out the other Fountain Pen 101 videos, and visit GouletPens.com to check out more of the products we featured here. Ask any questions you have in the comments below!

Write On,
Brian Goulet and the Goulet Team 

2017-10-11T13:45:47+00:00 August 13th, 2015|Fountain Pen 101|53 Comments