How To Fix A Fountain Pen Hard Start Fast!

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We know that more and more people are making the switch over to using a fountain pen rather than a ballpoint or rollerball and many people have upgraded from their initial entry-level fountain pen to an intermediate-level or even professional-level fountain pen. With the initial switch over to using a fountain pen as well as the subsequent upgrades, we often see a spike in the number of questions about common problems from the community.

One question that does seem to be being asked more and more is based around how to fix a fountain pen hard start with some people actually thinking that their fountain pen nib may actually be broken when this is usually not the case. Although hard starts on modern fountain pens are rarely due to the design or construction of the pen and are often down to user error, we know that they can be a pain to deal with.

Due to this, we have decided to publish our article on the most common ways that you are able to fix a hard start on your fountain pen. Although the vast majority of the time only one of these issues will be in play, on the odd occasion, your fountain pen may be hard starting due to a number of these reasons all compounding at the same time and causing the issue. Due to this, if you think that you have found the fault causing the hard start, try to clear it and then come back to the article if the fault persists as another problem may be at play.

How Do You Fix A Hard Start On A Fountain Pen?

We have tried to put our fault fixes in order of the ones that are more common so as you work your way through the article from top to bottom, the chances of you finding the fix you require to stop your pen from hard starting are maximized. As we touched on above though, your fountain pen may have multiple issues causing it to hard start so you may have to try multiple fixes.

What Is Hard Starting On Fountain Pens?

Hard starting is when your fountain pen doesn’t write immediately. This is often due to issues with the nib, section or ink but the majority of problems are easy to fix. The main symptom is that you apply your pet to paper and when the nib touches the page there is no ink transfer.

Flush Your Fountain Pen To Clear The Feed And Nib

The most common reason that a fountain pen will hard start is due to a blockage in the ink path on the nib. This is usually a build-up of dry ink but other types of gunk can build up over time and end up causing a similar problem. Thankfully, this is easy to diagnose as you can look at the nib of your fountain pen and you will usually be able to see the physical obstruction. Please note though that this can also occur in the feed of the fountain pen and unless you have a transparent, see-through section or de-build the pen, it can be difficult to see a blockage in the feed.

Thankfully though, this type of blockage is very easy to fix but you will need to pick up a cheap fountain pen flush kit and the cleaning process should take less than five minutes. If this is your first time flushing a fountain pen to clear a blockage to prevent your pen from hard starting then we would recommend that you read the instructions that come with your flush kit.

Although all flush kits work in a similar way, different brands can have their own specific applicator meaning you flush your pens in a slightly different way. Some flush kits will also have specific applicators for cartridge convertors, piston fillers, and vacuum fillers too and although this may sound a little confusing, the flushing process is quick and easy with the assistance of the user manual.

Try Another Ink With Your Pen

Although we have never had this issue personally, it does seem common that the type of ink used with the pen may cause issues with the fountain pen hard starting. Although most fountain pen brands do recommend that you only use their official ink with their pens, this is usually just a marketing ploy to get you to buy their products rather than their competators.

Usually you will be able to use any refined ink without issue and Noodlers Ink is probably the best cheap ink on the market right now. Its low price, great performance, and huge color range has earned it an excellent reputation amongst penthusiasts. If you are using a cheaper ink with your fountain pen then trying out some Noodlers ink may correct the issue if you are using a fountain pen with a piston filler or vacuum filler system.

If you are using a cartridge convertor system in your fountain pen then the type of ink being the issue can be more common. This is due to third-party brands offering similar ink cartridges for the more popular cartridge convertor system fountain pens on the market right now while using cheap, low quality ink in their cartridges. If you are using a fountain pen that uses a cartridge convertor, just use the official cartridge for that pen from the relevant brand, you will have a better writing experience and less chance of the ink being the cause of the pen hard starting.

Upgrade To A High GSM Paper

Although using a cheaper, low GSM paper is often reported as being the cause of a fountain pen hard starting, it is not usually due to the reasons that most people think. The issue with weaker, low GSM paper is that some fountain pen nibs, especially those that are dry writers or have an extra-fine or fine nib size can scratch a little as you write. Over time, this can cause a build-up of paper in the nib that results in a blockage.

This is surprisingly common but this is usually due to the fountain pen owner not regularly cleaning their fountain pen with a cheap fountain pen flush kit allowing the paper fibers to constantly build up until there is an issue. Thankfully, high GSM paper is only a dollar or so more than low GSM paper these days meaning you can just upgrade to a thicker paper to help reduce this issue causing hard starts in your pen.

Check The End Of Your Fountain Pen Nib For A Baby Bottom

This one is rare in modern fountain pens that cost over $100 but older or cheaper fountain pens can have issues with a baby bottom on the nib cause the pen to hard start. Unfortunately, a baby bottom is a pain to fix but we have a dedicated article going over how you are able to fix a fountain pen with a baby bottom as it does take some explaining to correct the issue.

You can easily see if the nib of your fountain pen has a baby bottom thankfully with a quick visual inspection. If you can see what may appear to be a little bubble or the tines overlapping at the very end of your nib then there is a good chance that the pen has a baby bottom and this is why it is hard starting. If this is the case then our article linked above should be able to help you fix the issue.

Manually Check The Tines On Your Fountain Pen Nib

Another cause of your fountain pen hard starting is misaligned tines on the nib preventing the ink from correctly flowing to the paper. Again, this is a quick and easy visual inspection to check but unlike a baby bottom on the nib, misaligned tines causing inconsistent ink flow are much easier to fix. Simply look at the tines on the pen and if they are not perfectly straight and appear to come very close together of even join up then this is probably the reason your pen is hard starting.

The video below offers a quick and easy way to fix misaligned tines that can take less than a minute to fix without needing any specific tools.

Seek The Assistance Of A Professional Nibmeister

If you are at this stage of the article and have not been able to diagnose the fault with your fountain pen that is causing it to hard start then we would recommend that you seek assistance from the nibmeister in your local stationary store. They should be able to quickly and easily identify and correct the issue for a nominal fee. If you live in a remote area then some nibmeisters offer a mail in service where they will inspect and correct your pen without you having to go their store.


That brings our article going over how you are able to fix a fountain pen that is hard starting to an end. As we mentioned back at the start of the article, it is usually easy to fix the issue that is causing your fountain pen to hard start, it just takes a little time to workout what the actual fault is as well as how to fix it.