Pilot Vanishing Point Clipectomy

31 03 2018

I’ve done about 25 clipectomies now, so I suppose it’s past time to share my thoughts about the process for those others who may be interested in taking the clips off their Vanishing Points.

I save the clips like trophies. But in a good, sportsmanlike way, not a serial killery way

Step 1: Read Richard Binder’s guide. Read it many many times.

Step 2: Purchase supplies. This included K-D Tools 135 Sprk Plug Terminal Pliers from Amazon (I should get Amazon affiliate links going, shouldn’t I?), a rubber mallet from Home Depot (because leather and rubber are basically the same substance right), then one by one from Michael’s so I could use a coupon each time: G-S Hypo Cement, a heat gun (no, Michael’s Store employee, I do not mean a glue gun), and some chain nose pliers.

Thus begins the tribulations

Step 3: Attempt to follow the instructions. Embrace despair. Realize the instruction statement “some nozzles can be very stubborn” is a vast understatement. Some nozzles are possessed by demons of a most perverse nature, glued together by a bond as yet unaccounted for by mere physical forces. Hallucinate that progress is being made. The hallucinations will keep you from giving up.

The hardest part about a clipectomy is…every part. Literally every part. Especially whatever part you’re working on at the moment.

Step 4: After much suffering, the nose cone will come off. Or it won’t. Still waiting on my original matte black, my yellow, and a blue carbonesque for Alan to reach this step. I’m trying to get better at identifying some tell that will help me figure out which VPs will be easy to take apart and which ones will prove to have been fused together at an unbreakable molecular level. Nose cones that don’t seem seated as tightly, for instance. But I’m not always right. This is the primary reason I have yet to offer/advertise doing clipectomies for other people, because the amount of effort involved is a wild unknown. A tip: put something, like a bit of masking tape or a soft cloth, under the clip where it touches the body, unless you want the wiggling action of trying to get the nose cone off to cause the clip to rub off some of your matte black finish. Oops.

::laughing crying emoji here, and everywhere, segues to just crying emoji::

Step 5: So You Managed to Get the Nose Cone Off. Great! Lay down on the floor and contemplate existence, because there’s a too-good chance that took way too much effort to accomplish.


Step 6: Removing the little retaining clip. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to use any tool under the sun to pull this clip out. I have always had to knock the clip out (typically using a small nail turned upside down so the nail head is able to push down on the retaining clip, inserted from the small end of the nose cone, propped on a nib block, and hammered with a smallish metal hammer), except in one memorable instance where I had to file the little wingfeet off and knock it out the opposite way. That was a tremendous hassle.

This is the fun part

Step 7: The nose cone is free of clip. This is the home stretch. Sunshine and angels singing. Now to decide what color to paint. I like to pick colors that pop. I use either Testor’s enamel paint, or random assorted fingernail polish. Both have served me well.

So fun! So Fancy!

Step 8: Once the paint is dry, reassemble the pen as per Richard’s instructions. Don’t put TOO much glue on or you get a mess of glue oozing out when you reassemble. Oops again.

I’d like to say it gets easier. No, I’d like for it to just actually be easier and I can just say nothing

Step 9: You did it, enjoy! Or, if all this is too much for you, you can always buy one of the clipectomy VPs I’ve done for Crazy Alan’s Emporium. There will typically be a couple available per pen show. I’m glad I learned how to do this procedure, because it would be prohibitively expensive for me to have someone else taking the clips off all my Vanishing Points. And it has allowed me to make my Vanishing Points uniquely mine.


Warning: lacking clips, these Vanishing Points will roll away if given the opportunity. Pen rests, pen stands, sleeves, cases, etc. are recommended to keep them from escaping to the wild.

Custom Shaw Pen – Gilbert Fountain Pen w/ Steel Nib

5 10 2012

Fun fact: this pen is one of the few I currently have with black ink in it

Picture it: my very first pen show. No idea what I’m even looking for. Lot of cool pens. One of the pen makers asks me if there’s any particular kind of pen I’m looking for, and it hits me: dark purple fountain pen. At the time, I had yet to see any in existence. And it just so happens that this particular pensmith is Alan Shaw. He had done some work recently with dark purple, and he offered to send me a sample.

Pictures fail to do it justice. And that’s why I kept pushing back this review, continually seeking justice…and continually failing.

This is not just purple, my friends, but sparkle-infused depths-of-deep-space-hydrogen-clouds purple. If fountain pens were magic wands, then this would be grade-A wizarding material. Thus I ordered my first custom-made fountain pen.

Seriously. Pictures fail to do it justice. We’ll just have to hang out sometime and maybe you can see it in person.

The finished product did not disappoint. It’s big, heavy, and beautiful. I ordered the Gilbert model with steel nib, which has rare earth magnets in the cap, making the cap easy and secure to close and post. Though, in my experience, posting the cap creates a serious Dolly Parton effect—top heavy, unwieldy, singing country music and spawning theme parks.

Am I writing or falling over? I can’t even tell.

Let’s take a picture moment to appreciate the material of this body. It’s smooth, it’s enchanting—

Like a Disney prince. In fact, this might actually be made out of compressed Disney princes.

It takes standard international cartridges / converter. It’s a decent nib, the kind I’ve seen before on other custom-made body kit-nib pens.

Standard functional steel nib

Mine’s a little on the dry side, very nice for drawing, but I’ll probably work the nib (when I get a little better at that) to be more juicy. Will keep you posted on that.


The pen is an absolute delight, and Alan was very easy to work with. The pen came in a nice box, with a converter and a bunch of cartridges. First custom fountain pen is a definite success.

Perfect purple pen

Here’s Alan Shaw’s website, and here’s the product detail for the Gilbert model. Thanks Alan!

One more picture. Just because we can.