Instructables
Picture of A Steel Dip Pen Nib
Ever since one of my school years where our form class (or home class) was in an art building I have been fascinated with Dip pens and Fountain pens. Eventually I splurged and bought a bottle of ink and a cheap ($25) fountain pen. Two years down the track, I'm still using that same bottle of ink and same pen.
But every time I use it I think:
     'I spent $25 on this pen. Why can't I make it? They made them in the 1800's'

But before I can make a fountain pen, I need to make a nib. The nib of a dip pen is similar, and the skills should be able to be transferred over.
So, after a couple of tries I have got making steel pen nibs down to an art. For $2.00 at the local dairy I can get the materials to make 6 or 8 nibs. I've no idea how long they will last, and they are quite fragile, but it's a good start.

Step 1: Materials and tools

Materials:
- A steel mint can or other, really thin sheet steel. (My mint can was 0.02mm* or so) 
- Dowel
- Ink

Tools:
A pair of scissors you don't mind cutting thin metal with.
120 grit sandpaper
2400 grit sandpaper (the finest stuff you can find)
A metal rod about 5-8mm diameter (I used a screwdriver shank)
Really tiny drill bit (or a pocket knife)

Other Requirements:
It will take about 30 minutes.
You will be cutting open a metal mint tin, things are sharp. I cut myself. Be careful.

And, as always, If you have any better ideas about any of the steps or the process in whole, please tell me!



* According to a reference given on the next step, the 'proper' thickness for a steel nib is 0.02mm (or 1/120"). Sheer coincidence that a mint tin is nearly exactly that!
 
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oldmicah1 year ago
Very nice done! (Project and explanation)

How many words can you write between dippings?
sdfgeoff (author)  oldmicah1 year ago
It really depends on how well you made the slit. The one made in this instructable has a fantastic slit, and you can write a few sentences.
The one I made previously (trying a different technique), you could only write a few words, because the slit was too wide so it only held ink at the very tip.

I have an project for children ages 8-12 and I would like them to get to use a pen and dip it into the ink. Would you make and sell 15 nibs? Thanks!

sdfgeoff (author)  deirdre.sentis25 days ago

Sorry, I won't. I simply don't have the time at the moment. However, for a couple of dollars you can purchase bulk lots from china. Here's one such place:
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Fountain-pen-m-1017...

With some pieces of dowel and electrical tape, you're sorted.

Permahaven1 year ago
Great idea, just the tip I have been looking for
sdfgeoff (author)  Permahaven1 year ago
Nice Pun....
Phil B1 year ago
This is very interesting. I was thinking a few days ago about trying to make a dipping pen with a slit nib using brass hobby tubing. Brass was used for pen nibs once, but discussions pass over them quickly, as if they did not really work so well. I did find something at Google Books on how steel pens were made in the 1800s. Some made a slit saw from a watch spring as raw material. Often makers used a screw press with a chisel edge above and below the nib to make a slit. I had thought about something like a scissors, as you did. A workable feeder should not be too difficult to make. A fitting for an ink cartridge seems like it would be more difficult.
sdfgeoff (author)  Phil B1 year ago
A couple years back I tried some really thin brass tubing. The stuff I had (from a RC transmitter aerial) the walls were too thin, so it just wasn't strong enough. But using tubing to start from is great if you have it.
I'll have to hunt for that book, it sounds interesting.

I'm trying to think of a material for the feeder, as I don't have access to any plastics or metals of the right sort of size. So I'm thinking of hot glue. You take your new nib, fill it with hot glue, pop it out (because hot glue doesn't stick to metal), cut a notch and there's a feeder. With some fore-planning, I reckon you could even form the cartridge fitting right there.
I'll do some more thinking about it over the next few days
I am mistaken. The e-book on making steel pens is from Project Gutenberg. You can find it here.

If you try making a feeder from hot glue, you could loosely fit an ink cartridge to the feeder and seal it with dripped wax or Sugru. 

Thank you for the information.
sdfgeoff (author)  Phil B1 year ago
Thanks very much for the reference. It has the best detail on the process that I've seen, and the images of the different types of nibs are useful.

Hot Glue is quite elastic, so if you drill a hole the external diameter of the cartridge, it should form a reasonable seal. But I'm not sure that hot-glue drills well. I'll just have to try I suppose.
Maybe you could find a steel rod the size of the cartridge, heat it, and press it int the hardened hot glue. That would make a hole.