If you’ve read more than 1 or 2 articles on this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m a big Pilot Parallel fanatic. Simply put, they’re my favorite calligraphy tool. They’re easy to use, fill, maintain, and modify. And they’re not even expensive! You really can’t beat them. So if you enjoy them as much as I do, you might benefit from this Pilot Parallel hack in regards to ink flow.

I’ll be honest — I have a Pilot Parallel graveyard. It’s full of broken pens from failed experiments. Some work out and some don’t. But as a result of my successes, I have a number of modified pens that each perform contextually to my liking. If you only have one Parallel Pen, I wouldn’t recommend making this modification. On the other hand, if you have a bunch and you’d like to dedicate one for use with thicker, heavier inks, then give it a go!

Okay, that’s my disclaimer. Let’s get to the good stuff.

The What

This hack involves removing a bit of plastic that anchors down the nib of your Pilot Parallel. The nib is comprised of two thin pieces of metal that are pressed together in a PARALLEL manner (get it!?). As ink is fed from body of the pen, it fills the tiny gap of space between these two pieces. Holding those two pieces together in place are two plastic anchors.

Pilot Parallel diagram

The hack involves removing one of these anchors.

The Why

If you’ve grown tired of using the Pilot Parallel pre-filled ink cartridges, I don’t blame you. They’re not great quality and the color selection is rather limited. Perhaps you’ve begun refilling them on your own with inks of your choice. If not, you should! Here’s a post on how to some great Pilot Parallel hacks.

No two inks are equal. Each ink varies in opacity, vibrance, and viscosity depending on the surface it’s applied to. When I began experimenting with white inks on black paper, I found that whiter inks were much thicker. They just didn’t flow as smoothly as a standard black ink like Higgins Eternal or a Liquitex Carbon Black. On top of that, when it came out of the nib, it was thin and transparent. This wasn’t what I was after. I wanted a bright opaque white.

If you’ve ever used an automatic pen, you’ll notice that the nib (also comprised of 2 pieces of metal) has a “downside” (the side side with the scores) and the “upside” (the smooth side with no scores). You write with the scored side down because it helps the ink flow through the two metal pieces of the nib.

Write with the non-slotted side of the pen facing upward

Write with the non-slotted side of the pen facing upward.
Write with the slotted side of the pen facing downward

Write with the slotted side of the pen facing downward.

In other words, the ink would not flow through an automatic pen as smoothly if it were not for these scores. This is what inspired me to remove one of the plastic anchors from the Parallel. Even though the mechanics are a little different than that of an automatic pen, I figured that the metal pieces would not be pressed together as hard if only one anchor was present.

The How

Before you get started, see the below visuals. This is we’re after. The Parallel on the left does not have the modification, and the one on the right does (note the missing anchor). The second image is with the nib re-inserted.

Pilot Parallel compared nibs before and after modification without nib

Before and after without nib inserted.

Pilot Parallel compared nibs before and after modification with nib

Before and after with nib inserted.

Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the ink cartridge to avoid making a mess
  2. With two fingers, carefully pull the nib away from the body of the pen to remove it and set aside
  3. Using small pliers, grasp on of the plastic anchors and wiggle it back and forth until it snaps off.
  4. Reinsert the nib
Pilot Parallel diagram with removed anchor

That’s it! Now you can load thicker inks (try Higgins Super White — my favorite!) and they’ll flow much smoother in a slightly higher quantity. This will produce less transparent lines.

Calligraphy piece by Jake Rainis with white ink

When you write, make sure the one remaining anchor is facing up (away from the page) similarly to writing with the smooth side of an automatic pen facing up. This will prevent the nib from wobbling.

Note: I would strongly recommend against removing both anchors. I’ve tried and it does not work well.
As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments. Enjoy!