Favourite Tools

I bought a set of eight dental picks. This is the only one I use often. It’s the perfect shape for scraping sacs out of barrels.

This pocket knife is around 60 years old and is my husband’s. It has three blades but it is limited to one job: scraping the remains of old sacs off the sac peg. This is never difficult but can take longer when the bits of old sac retain some elasticity and stretch rather than come off. I’m happier with entirely desiccated sacs which can be scraped and snapped off.

This piece of wire with the ends filed smooth acts as a depth gauge when it’s needed or as a means of pushing a large Leverless sac into the barrel. A valuable tool which was once part of a wire coat hanger. Those coat hangers had a million uses and it is a pity that they have been replaced by plastic.

The knock-out block is an essential for vintage pen restoration. There are some commercial kinds offered but it’s much better to make your own, to suit your own way of working. That said, I inherited this one as part of a large set of tools and spare parts, from a restorer who was retiring. He made it to his requirements and it suits me so well that I never needed another.

I bought this set of nib straightening tools from Laurence Oldfield. He makes them using old pen parts when he can. They are both beautiful and essential tools. I tackle many more bent nibs than I would have done without them.

Another real essential is the section pliers. As its name suggests its main purpose is removing sections from barrels but it can also be used to remove recalcitrant clip screws among other jobs. I prefer this type to sparkplug removal pliers. I can replace the part that grips the pen with a length of fuel line when it shows wear and the angle with which the pliers is used suits me better than the sparkplug type. I bought these but it is the work of a moment to grind the gripping points flat and attach fuel line.

My sac spreader is obviously an old pair of dividers. I snapped off the sharp points and used a fine file to smooth the points. It becomes smeared with shellac and I scrape it off from time to time. Works a treat.

A pen may seem simple but there are many measurements needed to ensure correct spare parts are used. This caliper is inexpensive and does a great job.

There is almost an infinity of tools that can be used to make life easier when working on pens. These are probably those I use and appreciate most.


4 thoughts on “Favourite Tools

    1. If I can find something I have that works well I stick with that but I don’t mind spending money on a good solution. The nib straightening set wasn’t cheap but after the first four nibs that I couldn’t have recovered otherwise, it’s all money saved. On the other hand I bought an expensive inner cap remover, then found I was hardly using it. I sold it on.

  1. Hey Deb, I suppose there’s really only a certain amount of jobs involved in restoring a pen, but it’s interesting how the ‘toolset’ acquired can vary with the innovation of each operative.
    I’d love to post a ‘spread’ of the tools I use, but the blog would end up bloated with pix ,
    A lot of the tools I use, I’ve made myself…👷🏻 …you know, little spring steel rods with a tiny shaped hook on one end that is sharpened on one edge…. minute drift pins for Onotos ….and the ubiquitous feed removing block .
    I saw a post from mr Minuskin with the most awesome of nib dressing block ever conceived….custom made in solid steel , something none of us could hope to make 😔

    I love having what it takes to deal with almost anything that restoring a pen needs,
    and making a tool that works perfectly for some tricky repair.

    I even put little notes up on community notice boards, saying FPs repaired/ restored,
    But almost never get any responses. 😢.

    It’s always been a case for me, of having either ‘the tools, or ….the tools to make the tools’ . And I’m so happy when I’ve got them all spread out in front of me, and a pen that came to me as a basket case, turns into a beautiful functional writer.

    1. I suppose the quantity of tools is unlimited. I have cut back a little by restricting myself to one brand of pen but there are still the tools that you need once in a blue moon but you can’t complete the job without them. I must admit that tools are a pleasure in themselves.

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