With the recent surge in people taking to using fountain pens over ballpoint or rollerball pens a year or so back, we have noticed more and more people reaching out with questions to try and get the best possible performance from their fountain pens. Although we have already gone over a number of the more commonly asked questions, we have noticed more and more people reaching out about how to stop a fountain pen feathering.
Due to constantly seeing people reaching out about fountain pen feathering each month, we have decided to publish this dedicated article going over the various aspects of ink feathering and how to fix it. We hope that this article will be able to help as many of our readers as possible fix their fountain pen to stop it feathering as fast as possible without having to spend large amounts of money.
Thankfully, the majority of the common issues that can cause a fountain pen to feather are easy to fix and can often be done at home. Although there are some rare issues that may require the attention of a professional nibmeister at your local stationary store, these do tend to be very rare so these are probably not why your fountain pen is feathering when you write with it.
What Is Fountain Pen Feathering?
The term feathering is used to describe the action of your ink spreading away from the intended lines when writing on your paper. This can give the effect of your text being blurred and messy when your handwriting is usually neat and tidy. Due to the feathering effect taking ink away from the characters you write, this can also make it look like your writing is fading in places due to the ink being pulled away from your intended text.
In addition to feathering making your handwriting look untidy, it can also make it difficult to read due to the inconsistency in both sharpness and ink tone. If you are trying to read a long document that has been wrote with a fountain pen that is feathering fatigue is likely to build up fast making it increasingly taxing to continue to read the document with it requiring more energy to stay focused with each passing paragraph.
Why Is My Fountain Pen Feathering?
There are five main reasons that your fountain pen may be feathering with all five of them being relatively easy to fix although some do have a small cost associated with them. The five main reasons that your fountain pen may be feathering are:-
- You are using an entry-level fountain pen.
- You are using low-quality or thin paper.
- The nib of your fountain pen is damaged.
- Your fountain pen has a wet writing nib.
- You are using a low-quality ink.
Other than your fountain pen nib being damaged, the other issues do tend to be very easy to fix to prevent your fountain pen from feathering. Even if your fountain pen is damaged, there are some issues that are quick and easy to fix that we will cover later in the article, there are some rarer issues that will need specialist assistance to correct though.
How To Stop Your Fountain Pen Feathering!
Is it usually much easier to stop your fountain pen from feathering that most people think. We have broken down the easiest fix for each of the main reasons that your fountain pen may feather below while listing the easiest possible fix for each issue. Although most of these can be fixed yourself in the comfort of your own home, if you do feel you need speciallist assistance then the staff in your local stationary store should be able to offer you advice specific to your situation and pen.
Use A Higher Quality Paper
There is no doubt in our mind that the most common cause of a fountain pen feathering when writing with it is due to the use of either low-quality or thin paper. Due to rogue fibers in cheaper paper flexing off in random directions, ink feathering is considerably more common. Using recycled paper used to also be a common cause of ink feathering when writing on it with a fountain pen but the process of recycling paper has been developed so much over the last decade that this is a rare cause these days.
Thankfully, if you are using thin or low-quality paper you can easily upgrade to some Paperage Dotted Journal Bullet Notebook, Hard Cover, Medium 5.7 x 8 inches, 100 gsm Thick Paper (Burgundy, Dotted) and the feathering can stop. Our readers will be pleased to know that higher quality, high GSM paper is usually much cheaper than they initially thought with many people paying similar prices for low-quality paper in their local store simply due to it being all that they have in stock.
GSM stands for grams per square meter and is the metric used to measure the thickness of the paper. Although other factors do come into play to make the paper high-quality, a higher GSM rating is usually a good indication that the paper will be of good quality. If you have a dry writing nib on your fountain pen then a GSM of over 100 should drastically reduce feathering and if you have a wet writing nib then a GSM over 130 should do the trick.
Are You Using An Entry-Level Fountain Pen
This one can be tricky to diagnose as some entry-level pens such as the Lamy Safari are outstanding fountain pens considering their very low price tags. Their nibs tend to be excellent with the pen easily being able to compete with pens more than double its price tag from some of the competing brands.
That said though, many of the cheaper, entry-level fountain pens do have low-quality nibs that can be prone to feathering and this is probably the second most common reason that your fountain pen may feather during use. If you paid less than $20 for your fountain pen then there is a very high chance that this is the issue, if you paid between $20 and $50 for your fountain pen and it does not have a brand name on it then we would highly suspect that this is the issue too.
Although there is no direct fix for this, a fountain pen like the Lamy Safari is very budget friendly allowing you to switch to another entry-level fountain pen that has one of, if not the best reputation amongst the community for its price tag. It is rare for any of the Lamy nibs to have issues with feathering no matter their price points and the rest of the Lamy Safari is built to the highest possible standards too making it a great option.
Check Your Fountain Pen Nib For Damage
Although a rare cause of your fountain pen feathering, issues with damage to the nib or feed of your fountain pen can potentially cause it to feather. A quick visual inspection of the nib should give a good indication of if this is the issue but many fountain pens cover their feeds making it harder to check them for damage.
If you do see any issues with the nib, particularly the ink path then there is a good chance that this is the cause of your fountain pen feathering. Please note that it is a relatively common fault for the tines on either side of your nib path to miss-align on a fountain pen nib that has been used for a few months, especially one from the entry-level price bracket.
Thankfully, this is one of the easiest faults to correct on your fountain pen and you can fix the issue at home in less than a minute. Although there are some extensive guides on other ways that you are able to fix miss-aligned tines on a fountain pen, we feel that the short video below and the quick and easy method explained in it are the best option.
Try A Dry Writing Fountain Pen Nib
Although a wet writing fountain pen nib can be the reason of your pen feathering, it is almost always due to a combination of a wet writing nib with low-quality paper. You will usually have issues with ghosting and bleeding from the fountain pen when writing in addition to the feathering too making it more obvious to spot. If you are using a wet writing fountain pen nib then our first recommendation would be to upgrade to some Paperage Dotted Journal Bullet Notebook, Hard Cover, Medium 5.7 x 8 inches, 100 gsm Thick Paper (Burgundy, Dotted) as this alone can fix the issues with the pen feathering.
If the feathering persists after trying it on some high GSM paper then you can look into switching out the nib for a dry writing fountain pen nib but not all fountain pens will have replaceable nibs. On top of this, some pen brands will offer a replaceable nib but it will come with a new section due to the full front end of the pen needing to be swapped out hiking prices right up.
This is why we always recommend you try high GSM paper first as it does tend to fi the majority of issues and leave you with a clean writing wet fountain pen nib that offers a very smooth writing experience. If you do have to switch over to a dry writing nib then the lower amount of ink able to work its way down the ink path to your paper helps to reduce the chance of feathering.
You can also consider the size of your fountain pen nib too as broad and double-broad nibs release more ink than a fine, extra-fine, and medium nib. Although this is a different factor to a wet or dry writing fountain pen nib, the nib size can also contribute to a fountain pen feathering when in use but it is almost always going to be a combination of other factors with your nib size playing a minor role.
Use A Better Ink
This is another very common cause of feathering with the entry-level fountain pens as the ink that comes with the non-branded pens is usually of a very low quality and it will feather onto your paper while also having issues with ghosting and bleeding too. Thankfully, if you are using a fountain pen with a piston filler or a cartridge convertor then you can pick up some Noodlers ink as it is very-budget friendly but offers excellent performance.
If your fountain pen of choice does not use a piston filler or have a cartridge convertor available then your only option is to try and find ink cartridges that twill fit your pen that contain decent ink. Although this is usually very simple if the fountain pen you are using has a brand label on it to help you identify the cartridges it needs, many of the cheaper pens don’t have any logos or brands making it a pain to find the correct ink cartridge.
That brings our article on how you are able to stop your fountain pen feathering to an end. The process tends to be much easier than the majority of people initially expect with most people being able to correct the fault at home even if they are new to using a fountain pen. We hope that our article helped you prevent your pen from feathering when writing with it and that we have been able to save you some money on going with a quick, easy, and cheap fix for your pen feathering rather than having to go to your local stationary store for professional assistance.