How often is this FAQ updated?

Last update: 10/3/2016

What if you're out of stock of what I wanted? When will you have it again?

Short answer:

I'm always working on making products better, making them more efficiently, so when there are gaps in availability, that's why. Sign up for the mailing list! That way you'll be sure to hear about when items are available again.

But, if something is out of stock, I cannot guarantee when–or even if–I will continue making or restocking that item. So, if you see something you like, get it while you can. Because there isn't continuous manufacture and there is a lead time in production, sell outs can occur.

In this one-man show, these pens are made by hand, in-house, by one person: me. If you can't buy something at a given moment, just sit patiently and try not to send me too many excited, panicked emails. (One is welcome.)

A "I really like X, would you consider making this in the future?" email is fine. An "OMG, why don't you make more pens? Why can't you reach into your secret pouch and pull out more of what I want? What's TAKING YOU SO LOOOOOOOOONG!?!?!??!?!" email makes me sigh and shake my head. 

Why should I buy pen with a disposable nib?

If you want a fountain pen that gives you high performance writing capabilities, and you don't want to be anchored to an inkwell, or spend huge amounts of money, this is your best compromise. 

As a fountain pen user interested in flexible writing, I have scoured the market for years to find that there is no single, perfect, stainless steel option. Here are the options I did find:

Most common:

  • An inexpensive modern incarnation of a stainless steel flex pen. 

I love the company that makes these. Know who I'm talking about? What's the problem? Performance. Compared to what dip nibs or flexible gold nibs can do, the same flexion requires a lot of pressure, or extensive user modification, and then, though I've seen good results, that is a time consuming, and potentially frustrating process for someone primarily interested in writing and not tinkering/modifying/engineering. I've been there, done that, and threw in the towel. Personally, I'd much rather build something that I want rather than try to modify something else. 

Second most common option:

  • Vintage flex pen. 

These can work quite well, but their main issue stems from being both out of production for a long time, and being, de facto, in low supply, and as such, they can be very expensive. They are also often highly demanded by collectors, driving the price up further. Because parts are no longer made, if you drop or break it, most likely the only way to have it serviced is to send it to one of a small few reputable pen repairers. You pay for that specialty, and the lead time for such repairs can be huge (I've heard 8 months quoted). And knowing this, you have to treat the pen with kid gloves. This might not be something you want. 

Furthermore, let's suppose you decide to buy a vintage pen, you have three options:

  1. Go to a reputable dealer (of which there are several) and pay for a hand-picked, refurbished or repaired fountain pen that does exactly what you want to be able to do, and pay the premium price. 
  2. You can go to an auction platform, and, hoping to find a bargain, start buying vintage pens sight-unseen until you find your gem. And once you've found it, sell off the ones you didn't want. 
  3. Start going to estate sales, garage sales, and old stationery stores hoping to find your new favorite pen. 

I did all of those things, and at the end of the day, I found some pens that I was happy about, but I also burned a lot more money and time than I am comfortable admitting. 

I figured I couldn't be the only person who didn't like that route, so I started this business hoping you'd appreciate the chance to avoid that hassle.

Still, why should I pay money to buy a pen that uses disposable nibs? 

Suppose you get your super high performance fountain pen with a flexible gold nib. (You could go vintage, or buy a modern pen with a gold nib and have it specially modified. Neither of those options is cheap.) There is a learning curve to using such a nib; In the right hands, one of these pens can create stunning work. In the wrong hands, they're surprisingly easy to destroy. (Again, been there, done that.) 

Here are some useful comparisons.

Rare, super flexible Waterman 7 with pink nib wet noodle: >$600
Desiderata Flex Pen: Generally less than 100.

Vintage Pen: ONE nib choice.
Desiderata Pens: Multiple interchangeable nib units. See below.

Can I read the manual? 

Sure you can.

What are your nib choices?

Zebra G. This is a terrific starter nib for someone who has used a modern semi-flex steel nib and wants to get their feet wet and see what a flex fountain pen can really do. It has the mildest learning curve and greatest flexibility (double entendre) of all the nibs I've tested. It's chrome plated for extended life. An all-around great nib. 

TiN (titanium nitride) coated Zebra G. Just like the chrome plated one above, but longer life, a bit less smooth, and a bit harder to flex. I've gotten 40 days of use out of one of these without ever removing it from the pen or cleaning. (That was extraordinary, though.)

Affordable flex?! These prices seem a little high to be called "Affordable"

Affordable/inexpensive when compared with pens of COMPARABLE performance
Vintage flex: $120+
Binderized Namiki Falcon: $245
Desiderata flex: Under $100.

I don't like charging these prices anymore than you do! My pens are made by me, by hand in my workshop in Chicago, Illinois, USA. These are not mass produced. If all goes well, and demand warrants, I'm getting the kind of machinery that can cut manufacturing time down. When that happens, prices will come down. 

For the wooden pens, the biggest cost is labor, as these have the most parts (the V2 alone has 17 that all have to be machined to very close tolerances) and the most arduous finishing process, so they are the most expensive. Premium woods such as Cocobolo, Ebony, Redheart, Lignum Vitae are very expensive/hard to come by, and pens made from them have that reflected in their prices.

Do you own or have you ever owned a vintage pen?

Of course! In addition to other less flexible pens, I used to have a Waterman 12 eyedropper, a couple of Waterman 52s, Mabie Todd Swans, a Blackbird, a Moore Maniflex, a Waterman Commando, and for five glorious hours, I was the highest bidder on Ebay for a Waterman 7 with pink nib until I got out bid by double. 

Do I still own any vintage pens? Just a couple. I sold the others to start this company! 

I came across a few broken Watermans once and cobbled the parts together to make a Frankenpen I pull out from time to time. I still keep that. However, I find that I don't use it much because my Desiderata pens work just as well, and I won't feel thunderstruck if one of them gets lost or damaged. 

How do your pens perform?

Check out my YouTube Channel, there are writing samples by various users.

Ok, you've sold me on one of these pens with disposable nibs. How do I take care of it and how long do I have before I have to replace it?

For instructions on how to handle the pen body, have a look at the instruction manual.

If you want to get the most out of your pen's nib, you should really pull the nib out and clean it after each use, like a dip pen. Do that, and for occasional use (a few times a week for about an hour) your nib could last for months. Easily. I just leave my pen point up and clean the tip when I'm done with it, and I can get about a month out of it (chrome plated) before the pen starts to get scratchy. If I took better care of them, I could get even more time. I just buy a few nibs and have them around just in case, and I try to keep the nib clean while it's in the pen. The nibs are pretty inexpensive, so I don't mind just swapping them out when I feel like a new one. 

This is a sample of how much flex I got before I sprung the nib. This is a $3 nib, so no harm done. Imagine if this had happened with a vintage gold nib!

UPDATE: The TiN coated Zebra G is a great nib; I've gotten 40 days out of one with no maintenance with a neutral ink in it. Your results will probably vary. With better care than that, I think the point will wear out before it rusts.

Can I use other nibs in it?

Yes and no. Each section/feed was designed to fit a specific nib (or set of nibs I list), and other nibs may fit, but I only guarantee success with the nibs I cite. If you damage your pen by forcing a non-sanctioned nib, that is at your peril.

My attitude is: I designed this to work a certain way, and I don't like using products for a purpose other than that for which they were designed. This is not a tinkerer's pen. That said, once you buy it, it's yours. 

The Zebra G nib and section can handle: Nemosine, Pilot and Goulet nibs. Word on the street is that you could wiggle a Brause Rose nib into one, but I've never managed to make that work. I'm sure there are other nibs you could muscle into my pens if you really wanted to, but these are the ones that have worked for me.

Can I get a replacement feed/section?

Not right now. 

How do the nib and feed fit into the pen?

Friction.

How do I take care of the pen body?

Included in the instruction manual is more detailed information on care, but the short of it is, on the wooden pens, try to keep ink off the outside of the pen. Each pen is given a thick acrylic coating and a coat of wax (that adheres to each pen in a slightly different way, of course) to protect it from the wear that comes with daily use. Though strong and durable, the coating is not bulletproof–the inside of the pens are completely washable, but all it takes is a lucky shot with one drop of ink to get through the one microscopic crack in the outer coating to turn your pen that color forever. I carry these pens in a case, and I've never had a problem with ink discoloration. Finally, to keep your pen in top shape, simply apply a light coat of suitable wax to the pen as needed, and you should be fine. 

What is the feed made of?

While some people go crazy over ebonite, I have experimented with all kinds of materials, and I am still deciding what to stay with for the long haul. I am currently using ebonite, but as my pens are specially machined to work in only one figuration at a time, there is no need to "heat set" one of my pens, so ebonite is a bit overkill. There are other materials I may switch to in order to lower costs. 

How much ink can it hold?

Pens with sacs can hold about 3ml. Daedalus holds about 3.5-4ml.

What kind of ink should I use?

Fountain pen ink. India ink, for sure, will clog the feed after a few minutes. (But it's a great few minutes!) If that's what you want to do, do so knowing this, only do writing one session at a time, and just be prepared to clean it out every few minutes.

Paper/Ink recommendations? 

If the flex nib is being used without flex, then nearly anything can work well. An unflexed nib here is like an extra fine firm nib, and you have a lot of freedom. For flex, I bought some of this Canson artist's stuff at a Michael's. It is 96gsm and though it has a very strong texture, (not super smooth) it handles every ink with aplomb; Baystate Blue included. No feathering. But it is unlined. Tomoe river can take anything as well, but as of this writing, it is also unlined. Fabriano recycled paper is affordable, and wonderful for shading, but it's not terribly smooth. My personal favorite, the gold standard, is Clairefontaine. Schin Loong used Rhodia to great success.

Inks? This is a personal choice, and it depends on what you want to do with your pen. That is, variety is the spice of life. And as such, you can't ignore Noodler's Ink. If you're drawing and are using huge swells, or going very fast, you need a wet, viscous ink that will stretch across the tines to avoid railroading and keep up. Noodler's BBH, or probably any lubricated ink of the same company should do just fine for you. One user is very happy with platinum Carbon Black, but in my experience it can be a little hard starting. The Iroshizuku inks I have work great. (Kon Peki, Ku Jaku.) If you're interested in just flex writing or calligraphy, provided you watch the ink stream across the tines and gauge your speed accordingly, most fountain pen inks will work. If you are interested in shading inks, you'll need to make sure your nib/feed is arranged so that you get less ink flow, otherwise shading won't have much of a chance to happen. The same setting that will enable shading will also encourage railroading if you go too fast. That's the nature of what you're doing–you just want to reduce flow to the nib enough to allow shading, but not so much that you get railroading. It's a fine balance that depends on your writing style, the ink and the paper. You may want to experiment.

In my experience, "wet" inks (like those mentioned above) work fine, dry inks (fountain pen friendly iron galls such as Salix and Scabiosa are the ones that come to mind at the moment) are great for getting the best "hairlines", but they might want to railroad a bit more than others. Key point: watch the ink work while the nib is flexing. 

Users have had reported great success with: 

(Not a conclusive list)

  • Noodlers: Black
  • J. Herbin: Lie de Thé, 1670 Rouge Hematite
  • Sailor: Oku-yama, Yama-Dori
  • Akkerman: Shocking Blue
  • Waterman: Tender Purple
  • Montaverde: Café
  • Iroshizuku: Yama-Budo

Users have reported problems with these:

  • Waterman Mysterious Blue

This is a Fountain Pen Network thread devoted to inks for flex pens, and I think it's really helpful. 
 

Where do you shop, and what shipment methods do you use?

I ship around the world via United States Postal Service for all my shipments. All orders within the United States are shipped Priority Mail® with insurance. International orders can be one of two options: First Class (uninsured) and Priority (insured). If the package gets lost in the mail with the method that's not insured, we're both up the creek, we both lose the item. I can't resell it, and you don't have it. If you're concerned, I highly recommend Priority if you're concerned about arrival. No, the USPS will not insure First Class International.

Do you take PayPal?

As of December 2016, yes!

Do you accept custom or preorders?

Not right now. 

How are your pens made?

Very carefully by me. They are produced using a system I call "small batch processing" which you could say is a delicate cross between "mass production" and one-off custom manufacturing. 

The pens that I make are machined, not injection molded or cast. 
Production is done manually, that is, not computerized (CNC). 
The feeds are machined out of ebonite. 
All design, engineering, development, customer support, fulfillment, purchasing, and production is done by me. 

What are your ethics policies with regards to rare/endangered woods and sustainability?

The exotic woods in the pens I carry were purchased once, in a large quantity before the opening of my company. At the time, I bought them trusting that I was buying sustainably harvested woods from a respectable source, however, after further research, I discovered that one wood, Zebrawood, was on the IUCN threatened list. I exhausted my supply of that, and didn't buy that wood again.

I have spoken with the distributor of the woods I bought (not the retailer, but the people they buy from) and they informed me that: 

1. They have a strong interest to ensure the species they import are legal to obtain in the country of origin, and legal to sell or trade in the country of sale because:
2. The Lacey Act of 1900 and the amendment in 2008 make it possible for the US government to prosecute for selling product that is legal to sell or trade in the US, but illegal to obtain from the original country. This affects them, and anyone else who deals with exotic woods.

I love Ebony,  Cocobolo, and other foreign woods, and I want them to be available forever. The distributor let me know that when his people are offered suspicious opportunities like Ebony at $8 a board foot (!) for example, they don't take them because:

1. Again, buying CLEARLY illegally obtained product could lead to them losing their import license and effectively ruining them
2. More importantly, it's unsustainable; purloined wood contributes to the eradication of a wonderful species of wood that no one wants to see go extinct

I have good cause to believe that the woods I bought were obtained legally and sustainably. I did my best to get to the bottom of the story about where my woods come from, but I didn't see the tree get chopped down, and I didn't see the farm whence it came. So just to play it safe, once I exhaust my remaining supply of the exotic woods I have that are listed as endangered or threatened, I will not be buying any more of these woods. 

This is the distributor's statement.

If this matter concerns you, I encourage you to do research on the wood you're interested in. In many of the cases of a species' endangerment, export is not the main cause–it's a combination of deforestation resulting in a reduction of the species' natural habitat, unsustainable local removal for building projects, and black market cutting/theft like that Ebony at $8 per board foot, for example.

New to fountain pens. Correct nib for copperplate? Spencerian? Ornamental Penmanship?

The "TiN" on the new Zebra G stands for Titanium Nitride. It's a coating that gives extended life to steel tools. It's a great nib and if you're new to fountain pens and fancy writing, it's an excellent choice for many types of pointed pen calligraphy.

I strongly recommend you spend some time on IAMPETH.com and get a sense of how serious you are/might be, and get back to me. There is a bottomless well (or Tower of Babel, if you prefer) of time and effort you can spend on this kind of thing.

How do you suggest I clean a nib?

Would you watch this video?

My package should have been here by now! Where is my package?

I don't leave boxes sitting around my shop. Once the mailing labels are printed, I box them, and put them in the mailbox or take them to the post office. If it's been a LONG time (10 days for Int'l Priority, 5 days for Int'l Priority Mail Express), and your order still hasn't come in, call this number: 1+ (800) 222-1811 and we might be able to get a refund. But don't hold your breath. USPS does high volume, and they treat this issue like an insurance company. Have you ever tried to get money out of an insurance company? 

If the tracking info isn't being updated, I don't have much I can tell you, and I don't think they will either, sadly. I might be able to tell you if any other packages I shipped that day arrived, but that depends on what other orders shipped that day. 

USPS is great, often, but that doesn't mean that it's perfect, or that there aren't delays from time to time. Why even use USPS? For the weight of packages we deal with here, costs are prohibitive everywhere else.

If you want to try opening a claim for the guaranteed service not being delivered, you can try here:

https://www.usps.com/help/claims.htm

USPS has a time frame for when a claim can be filed. Unfortunately, if the tracking data hasn't been updated by the postal worker on the floor (if I take them into the post office, they get scanned because I can see the worker do it, but if I put them in the mailbox, they might not get scanned by the carrier, and likely you'll have no tracking info for days and days and days, and then mysteriously, the package arrives at your door) we're both at the mercy of the mail system.