Reader Phil asks:
Can you recommend five or so “razor fine” nibs/pens? I am always looking for a good razor fine nib. Is the TWSBI one of them?
The first thing to know is that European and American pen manufacturers use a different criteria for nib widths than the Japanese manufacturers. A Lamy pen labelled as a fine nib is going to create a wider stroke than a Pilot pen that is also labelled as a fine nib.
That said, my best recommendation for razor fine fountain pens are all Japanese made. Pilot makes an XF nib that is very fine. My Pilot Prera is a fine nib as is my Pilot FP 78g and they both create the finest line widths of all the pens in my collection. I’d compare it to a sub-0.5mm (0.38, etc) stroke if you want to compare it to a gel or rollerball measurement.
The TWSBI 540/580 and the Mini both use a European nib. When I initially purchased my TWSBI Mini, I ordered it with a fine nib instead of an XF nib and it was too wide for my taste. Luckily, TWSBI nibs can be swapped out. The XF nib on a TWSBI is comparable to a 0.5mm gel pen to my eyes.
Sailor may be another brand worth checking for a fine width nib on their fountain pens. I have the Sailor Clear Candy in the medium nib which is comparable to a Lamy fine nib in terms of width so the Sailor fine is going to give a fine line for sure.
In the European pens, Lamy, Kaweco and TWSBI all offer XF nib widths which give a fairly fine line but I wouldn’t describe them as “razor fine” as I would the Uni-Ball Signo Bit gel pen.
Other factors can contribute to how bold or fine your lines look with a fountain pen. Paper quality can affect how thick your lines look. Good paper will keep the ink from seeping into the paper and bleeding the line widths. Also, the viscosity of the ink you are using can contribute to your line widths and overall ink flow. Some fountain pen inks are more liquid-y than others. I find that De Atramentis inks do very well in my finer nib pens as the inks feel more liquid-y. Diamine inks seem a bit stiffer which is great for stub nibs and wider widths but sometimes clog up my razor fine pens.
Did that help or just confuse the issue?