A: A rollerball refill will last an average of 30 legal size pages. A ballpoint refill will last an average of 300 legal-size pages. The fountain pen is the most economical because a 12 oz. bottle of ink will typically last almost a year. So, next time someone comments on your latest fountain pen purchase, just tell them that you are being economical!
A: I believe it best to clean a Fountain Pen at least once a month i.e. removing all the old ink from the feed and fill system, however if you are using red or green inks in the pen probably best to clean it twice a month. As to knowing when it's dirty, reduction in the quality of writing is a good indication, dried ink on the feed and or nib would be another. Remember to let the pen dry before refilling, water and ink do not mix well.
A: Use a solution of 50% Windex and 50% cold water. Never use hot water. Fill pen with cleaning solution and then empty. Repeat this process until clean. Shake excess liquid from the pen by wrapping the nib in a paper towel and shaking downward like a thermometer.
A: You don't need to worry about traveling by air with modern fountain pens. Today's fountain pens have intricate feed systems and are tested at pressures equivalent to that of a airplane cabin. As long as you keep the pen in an upright position, you should have no problems.
With antique fountain pens that use a bladder for ink, I recommend emptying the pen prior to travel and then filling it again at your destination.
A: Choosing the best pen as a gift can be quite easy if one applies a few simple rules. It's probably not a good idea to give a fountain pen as a gift unless the person is a fountain pen person or has asked for one. Rollerballs write great, but the refills tend to last for only about 30 pages. Ballpoint pens can write up to 300 pages with a Parker style refill. If the pen takes a Parker style refill, it will also take a gel refill.
A side note...Cross and Waterman rollerballs will take either rollerball, ballpoint or felt tip (fineliner) refills (the Cross will also take a highlighter).
Heavy is not always better, as it take a lot more skill to make a strong, lightweight pen than a heavy, strong one. Check the guarantee and reputation of the company with the salesperson; you may be surprised.
Finally, see what refill the pen takes. The more universal the refill, the easier it will be to find.
A: While I have the greatest admiration for those few who can take a block of wood or acrylic and form it into a highly polished item such as a pen. I do have some reservations, no matter how rare or precious the body material may be, the clips, tips, and mechanisms in general come from a craft supplier and are dubious quality at best. Compared to the findings that a major manufacturer would normally use on a comparable pen they are for the most part junk. I have seen some "craft pens" of extremely high quality and what these talented people have done is take an antique pen strip out the nib and hardware and build a new body and cap, in fact they have basically remanufactured the pen. I only know of one or two people doing this at this time.
In short there are too many great pens out there to buy something that may break and leave you no recourse.
A: The best paper to use is a high cotton content rag paper in a smooth finish . I personally prefer a paper with a little weight to it. In other words a little thicker than say normal fax paper or the cheap legal pad stuff. I have found that both the fax and cheap legal pads have a tendency to wax up and clog a fountain pen. Most are made with recycled paper that contains some wax in it.
Some time ago Bertram's Inkwell started selling a line of pads in several different sizes called Rhodia. These pads are great! I have been using the number 18 pad in the graph style and I absolutely love it. I love these pads! They are reasonably priced and great to write on.