Setting and Stabilizing the Removable Flange

There are several styles of oblique penholders available on the market. Some of them have set or glued flanges, while others have removable flanges such as the premium quality Del Tysdal’s Zanerian Style oblique penholder (catalog #H59). This article will address setting the angle and stabilizing the flange on the removable flange type holders, specifically, the aforementioned Tysdal oblique penholder (Figure 1).




My personal preference is to have the nib set with a slight inward cant and the tip elevated (Figures 2 and 3, respectively). The purposes behind these adjustments are twofold. The inward cant of the nib (Figure 2) permits both left and right nib tines to sit flush to the surface as the palm rotates downward to write. The upward angle of the nib (Figure 3) decreases the angle of the nib relative to the paper’s surface to facilitate writing. Note that the upward cant of the nib in Figure 3B results in a less steep nib-paper angle than that shown in Figure 3A. These are highly individual preferences but the information in this article represents a good starting point.


Figure 4, shows how I use a smooth round beak pliers to adjust the flange angle of my oblique penholder. The pliers will not damage the metal flange since they have no teeth. I approach the flange as shown from the back side. Notice how the beaks fit snugly into the flange concavity. I make the adjustment with an old nib inserted into the flange. I should also point out that I have not stabilized the flange at this point since the adjustment can loosen it. Use the pliers to gently bend the flange so the nib is positioned upwards and inwards as indicated in Figures 2 and 3. Be very careful since too much force could fracture the wood. Once adjusted the flange angle can then stabilize the flange using a Stim-U-Dent.


To stabilize a new flange I recommend using the Stim-U-Dent dental toothpick from Johnson and Johnson (Figure 5A). This particular toothpick is made of a very soft orange wood and available from most stores. However, caution is need. Anytime you insert something into the center of a piece of wood the possibility of fracture must be considered. Factors like strength of the wood, grain, etc. can influence resistance to the wood to splitting. Since the Stim-U-Dent wood is very soft, the likelihood of cracking the wooden staff is reduced.


Simply seat the adjusted flange all the way into the holder. Next insert the Stim-U-Dent into the hole as shown (Figure 5B) placing the base of the wedge towards the flange (Figure 5 B and C). Use a moderate amount of finger force. Remember the wood is soft and will compress easily. The amount of wood to insert is simply enough to stabilize the flange, no more. Break off the excess Stim-U-Dent flush with the pen staff. That is all there is to it! This procedure will not permanently fix the flange since the wood is extremely soft. The flange can be removed by applying some pressure to the base of the flange. In fact, this procedure will have to be repeated from time to time as the flange may loosen up.


Insert your good nib into the flange and be sure to align the tip with the long axis of the pen staff as shown in Figure 2. You can now use your holder. The adjusted penholder is shown in my hand in Figure 6.