Calligraphy: A Scribe's Notes Art Blog
Some writings make reference to the Mitchell nibs being coated with shellac which can be removed by placing the nib in a strainer and submerge it in boiling water for a minute to remove the shellac. The before and after pictures show a slight difference in the finish after boiling and they wrote exactly the same so I don't think it's worth the trouble.
Occasionally a new nib will have a burr or be a bit scratchy and need a little sharpening. A wipe with a crocus cloth is usually all that__™s needed. Crocus cloth is an iron oxide (jewelers rouge, carborundum) coated cloth, (it looks like fine black sandpaper) 1200 grit extremely fine abrasive that is used for polishing metal surfaces. I use a fine sharpening stone very sparingly. Put a drop of water on the stone, the nib should be placed bottom side down at a slight angle and run gently in a circular motion with little or no pressure. Luce Zolna suggests ___I have been using a acrylic nail emery board style buffer. It has 4 different pads from a rough surface all the way to a polishing pad. They are glued to a foam subsurface which is gives it stability. It is handy to keep in your toolbox and it works well. You will find it in a drug store or a beauty supply house.___ Mine is called a Mini 4 Way Buffer, I gave it a try and it really does work.
To really customize the nib width, Stephen Rapp uses a sharpening stone to file down the nib on each side to narrow the width. If you can still see to do itty bitty teeny tiny writing, try filing down a #6 like he did for this work. Even Stephen admits he doesn't work this small anymore.
The idea is pretty straight forward, clean the oil off before using a new nib. Writing with a nib is the best way to break one in, well used and cared for nibs are best, they have gotten used to your hand, your pressure and your slant. Keep your nibs clean and they will last you a good long time.