Where nibmeisters differ





If you’ve been jonesin’ to get a regrind , then you’ve already checked out a few nibmeisters. Italic mods such as stubs, cursive and formal are often standard on their menu. Tip reduction down to needlepoints are not uncommon, and some even offer the addition of flex to an otherwise rigid nib. But while their service lists appear cloned, each craftsman differs in how they express the work requested.

This is a writing sample of three stubs wrought from Platinum/Nakaya nibs. They all began as identical factory Broads and it is the concerned nibmeister’s work that influenced the final feel and behavior of each nib.


Shinichi Yoshida is Nakaya’s resident nib wizard. He grinds conservatively, leaving a lot of iridium at the tip. Line variation is the least dramatic of the bunch, but it is there. There is a bit of feedback but nothing disturbing. More like silky reminders of each stroke you make.

John Mottishaw’s nib was spec’d to be slightly narrower than the other two. Despite its trimmer size,  it is the most forgiving of the three. Even a novice will find this nib easy to use and I suspect its wide and radiused sweet spot is what makes this possible.

Mike Masuyama’s stub seems to have the best line variation, but it will stop writing if you stray from its comfort zone. Its smoothness falls between Yoshida’s grind and Mottishaw’s. The sweet spot is wider than Yoshida’s nib as well, but the nib does not tolerate rotation at all.

The Yoshida stub captured here is an off-the-rack cut. It was ground to a safe window, without a particular hand in mind. It is clearly a good nib, but you can tell that a lot of its potential remains throttled. The other two were done to suit a unique user and so the nib wrights had license to be more aggressive in applying cut and polish.

This point underscores what  makes a nib modification stand or fall. It is a tailored service, intended to fit your hand before anyone else’s.  Do your due diligence and research your intended nib wright’s success rate in the work you seek. (Just because he offers a needlepoint grind doesn’t mean it’s his long suit.)

The clearer you are about what you want, the better his chances of getting it right. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Provide vivid details on what you want to achieve and listen well to the recommendations of the craftsman and his reasons for making them.

Take your time in this quest. It is too easy to have a nib buggered by an amateur, and rushing a miracle man makes for bad miracles.


8 thoughts on “Where nibmeisters differ

  1. Julie

    Reblogged this on Peaceable Writer and commented:
    Had to share Karlo’s wisdom on this subject. The best way to have someone stub a pen is to do it in person… as we know it’s not always possible for many of us, myself included. As Karlo writes, don’t be afraid to ask questions and provide “vivid details on what you want.” Never assume anything, even when you’ve gotten glowing recommendations, ay? I’ve had work done by a variety of nibmeisters, and my favorite stubs have come from Deb Kinney and John Mottishaw.

  2. Josh

    Karlo, this is a great post! Thanks for sharing – I have a Masuyama and a Mottishaw stub, but I have never had the opportunity to try one by Yoshida.

    • mijbil

      Very good advice; I can speak to Masuyama’s skill and customer care myself, though I can also say that when I looked into trying out Greg Minuskin’s (a student of John Mottishaw) services, my questions about what he could do and attempt to have a discussion about my nib preferences led to him refusing the job. I only wish there were more such precious tradesmen; especially now that Richard Binder stopped working on pens other than those he sells. A fountain pen without a custom nib is like a bed without linens; it does the job, but pales in comparison to its proper form.

      • Karlo Tatad

        A custom grind is always a treat but I also have a few round nibs that behave so perfectly that it seems almost criminal to take them to the grinding stones.

        You can ask Binder for recommendations too. There are two or three students of his that he will vouch for and trust to treat you right.

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