Keeping your Pens in Tip Top Condition

Keeping your Pens in Tip Top Condition

Have you finally found the #PerfectPen? Does it feel great to hold, write smoothly, create the perfect line width and somehow improve your handwriting without any extra effort from you? Never really cared about pens before but suddenly find yourself alarmingly over protective of a particular pen?

Even pens need a little TLC once in a while so here are some handy tips to help you keep your favourite pen in tip top condition for as long as possible.

Ballpoints:

Ballpoints are quite hardy, low maintenance pens and with their high viscosity ink they are unlikely to leak which is why they remain so popular for everyday use whether in the office, at home or on the go. Unless you’re using an expensive high end ballpoint, the occasional drop or scratch isn’t going to cause you any sleepless nights – that is until you find The One.

We all know ballpoints can be a little temperamental at times, false starts and skippy ink flow being the most common complaints. Before you start feeling let down and betrayed by your favourite pen, see if you can give it a new lease of life by trying the following:

• Stating the obvious here, but check to see if there is any ink left in the refill. You might just need a quick change and you’ll be good to go.

• Dried ink and dirt can clog up the ball causing it to stick. A quick scribble on paper can often get it moving again. Failing that, rub the ball across a rubber surface, an eraser or the bottom of a shoe could work. You could try running some warm water over the tip to loosen the dirt or dried ink.

• There may be an air bubble making a nuisance of itself somewhere in the refill. Giving the pen a shake might do the trick. Sucking the tip of the pen has worked for me many times although I’m more careful now after spending a whole day with blue lips which my amused work colleagues failed to point out. Thanks guys! Alternatively, you could try gently blowing into the end of the refill, again be careful, have a piece of scrap paper ready to catch any ink blobs in case it works a little too well.

• If the whole refill looks to have dried up, place the place pen in waterproof bag and leave in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes. This might help get the ink flowing again.

Replace the lid or retract the tip when not in use to help prevent the ink from drying up and keep the ball clean.

If you allow your pen to get lost in the bottom of your bag or place it in your back pocket there’s a good chance it will get crushed, sat on or scratched. Or small pen pouch and a safe jacket pocket will help keep it in once piece.

Rollerballs:

Rollerballs work in a similar way to ballpoints only the ink is much thinner resulting in a smoother and more consistent ink flow. Rollerballs require less pressure enabling you to write comfortably for longer periods of time.

Rollerballs are not as temperamental as ballpoints but may still cause you some mild annoyance now and then.

Should the ink flow be anything other than perfect, try the following steps, which are similar to the ballpoint:

• A rollerball will use up ink faster than a ballpoint so it’s worth having a look at the ink levels to make sure you haven’t run out.

• As with a ballpoint, the tip can easily become clogged with dirt or dried ink so a squiggle on a piece of paper might kick-start the pen into action. If that doesn’t work try running it under warm water.

• Give the pen a little shake – not too hard though or you’ll end up with ink splatters everywhere which are likely to stain if not cleaned up immediately.

Be mindful of how you store a rollerball. There is a strong possibility that the pen will leak if not stored upright, tip facing upwards. Correctly storing the pen upright may occasionally result in a sluggish start up. Help move things along by holding the pen tip down for a minute or so to give the ink a chance to reach the tip.

Again, replacing the lid after use will help prevent the ink from drying up and keep dirt off the ball.

Fountain pens:

Fountain pens add a little luxury to the pen pot however many people still shy away from these pens, fearing they are too high maintenance. A well cared for fountain pen can survive generations, surely that’s worth a small amount of effort?

It’s best not to leave a fountain pen inked up unless you use it on a regular basis otherwise you’ll find the ink dries up and clogs up the feed, preventing the pen from writing smoothly or in some case preventing it from writing at all.

Regular cleaning is easy to do. The easiest way to flush a fountain pen that uses cartridges is with a converter (used when bottled ink is favoured over cartridges). First rinse the nib in a bowl of water or under a running tap. Fill the converter with water and flush out any leftover ink, repeating until the water runs clear.

Always replace the lid on a fountain pen when not in use. This helps prevent any ink on the nib from drying out and also protects the nib from accidents. Fountain pen nibs are very easily damaged if dropped.

If you ever lend your fountain pen to anyone, be sure to keep hold of the lid. Who’s going to forget to give a fountain pen back without a lid? I wouldn’t want ink all over my pockets, would you?

The best way to store a fountain pen when out and about is vertically, with the nib facing upward to prevent leakages, preferably in a pen pouch to keep the body free from scratches. Storing a fountain pen horizontally whilst at home or work is unlikely to cause any problems, in fact, for some this is the preferred storage method as it keeps the nib wet enough to begin writing again quickly but not so wet that it’s likely to leak, although accidents do occasionally happen.

 

So next time you have pen trouble, don’t get mad, get caring.

 

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Do you have any tips of your own to share? Or maybe you have an old pen that’s still going strong? We’d love to hear about it …

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Inksmith at 12:29 pm

    One trick I’ve used on biros over the years is to write on glass; a windowpane for example. For some reason that seems to unclog them. I can’t claim credit for the idea, but I also can’t remember where I heard it. :/

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