How to Prepare your dip nib

A Potato. Washing up liquid. A Lighter. A Toothbrush. Some might say that this is a rather random list. And we would have to agree.

It is also a very useful shopping list if you’re wanting to experiment with ‘cleaning’ your Manuscript nibs. Sure, your nibs look ‘clean’ when you buy them. But if you’re struggling to get a smooth flow of ink it maybe because of an oily (but important) residue left over from our exacting manufacturing processes.

Due to the very nature of many nibs being made from steel they can rust if we as Manufacturers do not properly coat the nibs for finishing and storage. Manuscript’s Leonardt nibs are dipped in various finishes which in turn leave an invisible residue on the nibs which can interfere with the flow on ink.

So if you’re having problem with ink flow the solutions to removing that residue are simple. A potato. Washing Up Liquid. A Lighter. Or a Toothbrush and toothpaste. You don’t need ALL the shopping list. Just one of these items will sort your nibs out so they are primed for continuous ink flow.

Read on and decide which methods you want to try out…


A Potato


This may sound a little crazy but it really does work. The starch of the potato removes the residue from the nib. Just carefully poke the Leonardt nib into the potato. This method is probably not our favourite as it can damage the nib if you’re not super, super careful. BUT we know it is a regular method for well-established calligraphers who really do swear by it. Maybe trial it for yourself.

Tip: If you have bought a set like our Manuscript Student Artist Set, maybe do all the nibs at one time so you don’t get through a bag of potatoes. 

Watch our video of @Kala_arcade preparing her nib using a potato HERE!

A Lighter


Simply move your Leonardt nib through the flame (quickly) and it burns off that left over residue left from the nib manufacturing process. You may find that the nibs blacken during this process. The blackening itself doesn’t usually damage the nib but can be a bit unsightly - if that’s going to bother you this method is not for you.

Tip: If you do want to go down this route then move the nib through the flame quickly. Don’t leave it there for ages. It is very thin steel and you don’t want to affect the flexibility of the nib. Manuscript make the nibs to exacting tolerances and so prolonged heat could damage your nibs.

Watch our video of @Artsynibs preparing her nib using a lighter HERE!

Washing-Up Liquid


This is our favourite method. Whatever your nib; tape, ornamental, principal, mapping, school nib (the list is long so we’ll leave it there) add a little washing up liquid to some water and wash your nibs thoroughly. Dry off with a cloth. They key here is that this method is (in our view) the least abrasive and is a gentle way to manage your nibs. Recommended method by Manuscript for prepping your Leonardt nib.

Tip: Make sure you dry off your nib ‘really’ well to prevent rust. In fact you need to keep this as a routine when washing your nibs after use. Drying is key! And other washing-up brands will do just fine.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste


Many of us use our old toothbrushes for cleaning 'hard-to-get-at' areas. This is why toothbrushes are also used time and time again by calligraphers to remove the coating left on in the manufacturing process. Add a little toothpaste and brush your nib gently.

This method is definitely good for reaching those trickier areas on some smaller nibs.

Tip: Again make sure your nibs are totally dry after washing. Also be mindful of what you’re using to dry the nibs with. Some cloths can loose their fibres quite easily which can get stuck between the tines and can be pesky to remove.

What now?

Prepare your nibs the way you feel comfortable. And let us know what works for you to get that uninterrupted ink flow.

Follow us @ManuscriptPenCo on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and watch more videos on our Youtube Channel

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