Monday, April 2, 2012

3 dollar nib flossing tool

Some time ago I showed you how to make a cheap nib flossing tool from a security tag found on many store-bought objects. But what if you want to go big? What if you want to invest some serious money into a serious tool?

Well, the good news is that you don't have to break the bank to do that. I guess the main disadvantage with the shim I was talking about in my previous post is that it only has one size. For certain situations it might be too thin. If you need something thicker that shim might not be for you.

I can't take credit for this idea because I read it somewhere on the internet but it turns out that a really good nib flossing tool is one of those feeler gauges that are used to measure the distance between two objects that are extremely close. Typically it is used to set the distance between the electrodes in a car's spark plugs (though I understand modern spark plugs don't require this adjustment anymore). Here is mine:
Feeler gauge

This tool can be purchased in any auto-store. I paid about $3 for mine. It's all-metal and the quality feels very high.

The thickness of the shims varies between .0015-inch/.038mm and .025-inch/.635mm. The thinnest one feels thinner than paper. Seeing that not all nibs can be flossed in the same way, I would say that this tool is a very good investment. One word of caution though: mine was (and still is) covered by a thin film of lubricant. You might wanna rub it off before using it.


  1. If you remove the thin film of lubricant the gauge may rust if stored like that over time.

  2. Of course, but I wouldn't worry about that, being a $3 tool and all. Storing it in a dry place should be ok. Besides, it's impossible to completely wipe it clean. Just wipe the blade you are using.

  3. I've used these for adjusting the valve clearances on my car. I've tried putting them in between tines on a fountain pen, but couldn't get them into the gap without feeling like I was going to damage the tines or snap one of the feelers in half (I have done this before!).

  4. I've never had issues with that. Your nibs must have very tight tines. I wouldn't worry too much, especially on cheap(er) pens like I use. But if you are not careful, it is very possible that you could damage the nib.