Last weekend, I took a little trip to Rodger Mayeda’s woodworking shop in New Mexico to find the answer to something I’ve been curious about: how do you go about adjusting the flange of an oblique pen holder? Not only did I learn a few things on the topic, but I came back to Colorado…
I’ve wondered how to adjust an oblique pen holder to fit different nibs for a long time. Before last weekend, I hadn’t dared to try it, mainly because all the flanges on my pens are adjusted perfectly for their respective nibs. I was afraid I’d mess something up! However, after a trip to Albuquerque a couple of days ago to meet with Rodger Mayeda, the artisan behind Rodger’s Pen Box, I now have the confidence to fiddle with my flanges. After you watch the flange-focused videos that Rodger was generous enough to help me make, I know that you will feel the same way!
Before we jump into how to adjust the flange on an oblique pen holder, I’d like to talk about Rodger’s process for making the flanges on his world-renowned pens. Rodger affectionally refers to his oblique pens as “the people’s pens” because their design is simple and utilitarian; they’re very beginner-friendly.
The flanges on all RPB pens — and most metal-flanged oblique pen holders — are adjustable. That’s because they are made out of sturdy but pliable sheet brass, pictured below.
Rodger buys his sheet brass in rolls, then he cuts the brass using a master template as a guide. In the photo below, you can see the small piece of brass that will soon be folded into a flange!
Once the flange is folded, Rodger sands its edges so they’re nice and even.
Once the edges are smoothed to Rodger’s high standards, he uses jeweler’s pliers to shape the flange correctly for the nib he happens to be fitting the flange for.
Final-touch adjustments are done with his fingers until the nib fits nice and tight!
Watching Rodger create flanges for his oblique pen holders showed me just how pliable the brass used to make flanges can be! After seeing his process, I only had one question: Could I, as the pen user and not the pen creator, adjust the flange myself to fit a different nib? Rodger’s answer was yes and no. Yes, if the nib I want to adjust the flange for is a similar size compared to the nib the flange was originally fitted for; no, if the new nib is significantly larger or smaller than the original nib the flange was fitted for. Of course, there’s a little more to the answer than that, plus it’s nice to see how to actually adjust the flange for a different nib. Effectively, we made a video to explain the finer points of adjusting a metal flange. The pen being used in this video is a Ziller Oblique Pen Holder 303, which is an economical plastic pen.
In addition to explaining how to adjust the flange to hold a different nib, we wanted to make sure and talk to you about how to angle the flange of your oblique pen holder to fit your hand. It’s okay to rotate the flange up or down to make it easier for you to apply even pressure on both tines of your nib.
If your flange is angled incorrectly, you’ll notice that one of the tines of your nib will take on more pressure than the other one. This will result in your nib catching on the fibers in your paper, which facilitates ink spatter. Uneven pressure also leads to jagged, sloppy strokes when you’re writing! In the photo below, the right tine is taking on most of the pressure that is being exerted by Rodger’s hand, which isn’t good!
It’s also important to make sure your flange and nib are positioned at a low angle to the paper if you’re a beginner. If you need to rotate the flange to achieve that angle, that’s okay!
Unless you have experience creating dip pen calligraphy, you’ll want to make sure that you’re not holding your nib and flange at more of an upright angle. If you hold your pen like this, chances are you’ll have a lot of difficulty forming upstrokes because your nib will catch on the paper!
The concepts of how to position the flange/nib and what angle to hold the pen at are important, but may be difficult to learn just from looking at the photos. For that reason, Rodger and I made another video to teach you about the flange angle as well as how to safely remove and insert nibs in the flange:
Today’s post presented a fair amount of information, so if you’d like to keep a little reminder of what you learned in today’s blog post around, you can download the (free) Oblique Pen Flange Adjustment Printable Cheat Sheet! As always, too, if you have any questions, I invite you to ask them in the comments. I’m glad to give you my best answer, and I’m sure Rodger will be watching out for questions on this post as well. 🙂
I had a great time learning from Rodger and touring his workshop, so in Friday’s post, I’d like to show you a quick video of him making a pen. It’s a truly fascinating and impressive thing to see! Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your week!