How to Fit Reservoirs

Once the nib has been prepared it is important to set it up correctly.  Some nibs are purchased with a reservoir, but reservoirs for the William Mitchell Square Cut nibs and Leonardt Square Cut Nibs are purchased separately and have to be fitted to the nib.

Reservoirs are usually made of brass making them flexible enough so they can be adjusted.  It is important to fit the reservoir correctly otherwise it can cause problems. If the reservoir is fitted too tight it can affect the tines of the nib causing scratchy pen strokes.   If it is fitted too loosely it will fall off (usually down the sink or in the bottle of ink!).  The fit needs to be such that the reservoir stays on the nib but could quite easily fall off.

The reservoir can be adjusted by using both thumbs to adjust the little wings that wrap round the nib.

It is usual that each time you fit a reservoir you will need to adjust it for the nib.  Now the reservoir fits the nib correctly you need to make sure the tip of the reservoir is just touching the nib.  Often it is necessary to bend the point of the reservoir a little.

Once the reservoir has been attached to the nib you will see a gap between the reservoir and nib.   The tip of the reservoir should be touching the nib.


Now the reservoir needs to be positioned correctly on the back of the nib. The position of the reservoir will control the ink flow.  Start with the reservoir about 2mm away from the tip of the nib. If the ink does not flow very well, slide the reservoir a little closer to the edge of the nib. If the ink flow is too great, reduce the flow by sliding the reservoir away from the nib.

8 thoughts on “How to Fit Reservoirs”

  1. Now that I know how to fit the reservoir how do I fill it? Is the hole or holes the appropriate point? I read to turn the pen sideways. But that seems to get messy.

  2. Dipping the pen usually fills the reservoir nicely. Some,however
    either use an eyedropper or a small brush to fill from the side
    or the bottom.

  3. I have tried to fit the reservoirs to my nibs but cannoy get any where near to making them fit. I’m so disappointed as I wanted to practise before my lesson tomorrow. It’s a pity that they pens, nibs and reservoirs don’t come already fitted. I’m not silly but with big fingers that are a little arthritic I’m really struggling.

  4. @jeaned43. I agree with your comment that fitting and adjusting the reservoir is awkward. Even if each nib was fitted with the reservoir when it was purchased, it would still need to be adjusted to work well with the different inks, paints and writing surfaces.

  5. Never use the reservoir because of the problems mentioned above. I cut a tiny strip of. artist masking tape place it in back of the nib lined up with the two corners then pull tape until taut and wrap around to front. The tape criss crosses over the circle of my Mitchell pen. This works beautifully.

  6. Be careful if you are using Manuscript reservoirs (with the little star-shaped hole) for use with William Mitchell nibs, because they are smaller width-ways and so they don’t fit or, if you can get them on, they put the nib under too much tension to allow a successful ink flow. These reservoirs only fit Manuscript nibs properly. For universal use with all sizes of William Mitchell nibs, you need the reservoir with the two little round-shaped holes.
    Further to Mary McLeod’s suggestion of using a sliver of masking tape – Micropore Tape, first developed by the medical profession to stay stuck to wet skin, works very well indeed and tends to stay in place more efficiently than masking tape. Expect to buy it at the chemist though, not the art shop.

  7. Used Reservoirs can be adjusted by simply pressing them flat and lifting first one edge then the other to fit the nib. I have even done this for use with pointed pen Nibs when doing Copperplate. Just be gentle…..

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