Snap Judgments: Custom Nib Grinds from FPNibs.com

I’ve had my eye on custom-ground nibs for a while now, but the high price tag always put me off. (I live in the Pacific Northwest, USA, and there isn’t a pen show large enough nearby to attract any well-renowned nibmeisters. Nor is flying to a show an option due to my always-busy summer schedule.)

Then I heard about FPNibs.com, which is a custom nib grinding service based in Spain. You can send in your pen and have its nib ground and shipped back to you, or you can purchase a separate nib and have it ground to your liking before shipping. I was interested in the latter, and saw that they have a wide variety of TWSBI nibs and section units for sale. Since I was already in the market for a TWSBI pen, it seemed the perfect opportunity to play with different nib grinds as well.

Fortune soon smiled upon me, and I managed to score a practically brand new TWSBI Diamond Mini Classic on FPN at an excellent price.

Once I had a suitable pen, I decided to buy two complete nib/section units: one with a medium nib and cursive italic1 grind, and the other with a fine nib and architect2 grind. The ordering process was straightforward, but if you want an architect grind, be aware that you’ll need to know your writing angle before you order. (To this end, FPNibs.com has helpfully provided an easy-to-follow guide to measure your writing angle.)

And the prices? Amazing. The architect nib was $30-ish and the cursive italic nib was $29-ish. (I say “-ish” because the prices fluctuate slightly every day due to the vagaries of the currency exchange market.) Keep in mind these prices are for the nib, the section unit, and the custom grind itself! The shipping cost was a very reasonable $7.50 to the US, without tracking.

I placed my order on May 30th, received notice that the nibs had shipped on May 31st, and received them on June 12th.

The TWSBI nib/section units are protected by some clever packaging. The red knobs are threaded for the nib units to screw into, and if flipped over, the knobs can be used to cap the barrel of the pen. (For example, if you weren’t planning to use the pen for a while and wanted to preserve the ink in the barrel.)

Here’s a closer look at the nib unit with the 45Β° architect grind.




Nicely done! And here’s a writing sample:

Architect nib grinds are the hot flavor of the moment, but I can certainly see what all the fuss is about. FPNibs.com did a great job on this grind, and the nib is smooth and easier to write with than I expected. A 45° angle ended up being correct for my grip (whew, glad I didn’t screw that measurement up!), and I love the bit of flair it adds to my otherwise unremarkable handwriting.

Here’s the cursive italic nib unit.




Again, nicely done.

The late Susan Wirth was right — the cursive italic is a damn good grind, and the one put on this nib by FPNibs.com is a pleasure to write with. It’s forgiving, but still has that classic italic line variation.

I’ve only had these nibs a day, but I’m thrilled with them so far. It’s going to be tough to pick between the two! Thankfully, the TWSBI Diamond Mini Classic is the perfect pen for playing with different nibs, as the section units are super simple to change, and can be done without dumping any ink out of the pen.

If you’d like to try some grinds that aren’t the usual generic round, take a look at FPNibs.com. With a next-day turnaround time, grinds that write wonderfully, and prices that can’t be beat, they’ve earned my highest recommendation.

These nibs were purchased with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.

1 Italic nib grinds, explained. ↩

2 The architect nib grind, explained. ↩

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7 thoughts on “Snap Judgments: Custom Nib Grinds from FPNibs.com

  1. chantgirl June 15, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    This was FABULOUS info!
    I haven’t delved into anything yet along these lines and you’ve already made my life easier. Thanks! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • economicalpenster June 15, 2017 / 8:38 pm

      You’re so welcome. You should definitely try a cursive italic grind at least once!

      Like

      • chantgirl June 16, 2017 / 10:28 am

        Definitely will look into it! I have a simple 1.1 stub nib and love what that does for my very messy-looking writing, so I’m sure I would love an actual cursive italic grind!

        Like

  2. chantgirl June 16, 2017 / 11:31 am

    Well, there ya go, you damn enabler, you! I just bought a cursive italic nib for my TWSBI. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura June 17, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    Excellent post, thank you!

    I just want to interject just one note of caution, which is not to dissuade anyone from trying this. His prices for nib-grinding are excellent! And it looks like his work is excellent, too. I’m grateful to learn about this. I just want to throw in a general caution when it comes to any nibwork.

    Communication is imperfect, expectations vary, and one person’s perfect grind is another’s “too sharp” or “not sharp enough,” or “too narrow” or “too wide,” or “not wet enough” or “too wet.”

    That’s why a nibmeister always says, “if you don’t like it, send it back, tell me what’s wrong and I’ll adjust it.” And why I’ve had to do that myself, even with master nibmeisters. With anything custom, you sometimes need another round to refine the finished product.

    So good communication at the front-end is an absolute must. Trying one or two (as you did), rather than buying a large batch, is a great idea. This is especially true when buying from someone in a different country, just because of the high price of postage.

    I would put in a plug for going to a pen show — and if the summer doesn’t work, then consider Chicago (mine) or Colorado or L.A.. πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll write another blog post myself. πŸ™‚

    Like

    • economicalpenster June 17, 2017 / 11:32 pm

      Thank you for raising some excellent points!

      I agree — working with a nibmeister in person is the ideal when it comes to custom nibs. However, for those of us for whom traveling to a pen show is not an option, it’s good to know of some alternatives. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laura June 18, 2017 / 9:01 am

        Totally. What’s especially amazing about this option is the excellent price. I’m the person who paid $30 each to have Pendleton grind some fine Safari stubs for me, years ago, so I’m with you 100%. πŸ™‚ To this day I love using those but I spent more than they are worth to anyone else. 😁 Just saying it pays to be very specific about what you want. πŸ™‚ And you are right, a lot of us can’t get to pen shows easily. I couldn’t for years either, so I’m with you there, too. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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