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2003 JES WoodCrafting, All Rights Reserved.  Article is reprinted with permission from JES WoodCrafting


We added this section to let you see the process of how we make your pen.  Pictures can't really give you all the details though.  For example, some woods, like Tulipwood, give off a very fruity smell when drilled or turned.  Some of the finish polish smells like candy!  And super glue (used to glue the inner parts of the pen to the wood blank) really will stick your fingers together  (don't ask me how I know this).  So read on, and enjoy.  These things are as much fun to make as they are to look at...

Part 1:  Preparing the raw wood...

Your pen starts out as a short piece of raw wood, called a "blank".  It can be square, as the Bocote wood shown here, or it can be round.  It can even be a tree branch, which I've used to make a neat Red Cedar Pen.  The blank is measured and cut to the proper length.





Next, each blank is marked on the end to find the center, and is loaded into a jig on our drill press.  The proper sized drill bit is inserted and a hole is drilled all the way through each blank.  Some woods drill very easily.  Other woods, and the plastics, are tougher and must be drilled very slowly to avoid splitting.

Deer antler is especially difficult to drill due to the irregular cross section and curvature of the material.  Set up may take an additional 30 minutes just to drill two holes in antler.



Here, the two blanks are ready to receive the brass tubes which hold the pen parts together.  Thickened "crazy glue" is spread on each tube (one at a time) and is inserted into the blank with a tube insertion tool.  You need to work quickly as the glue will grip in 5 - 15 seconds.  Some woods which have a lot of oil, like Cocobolo, will actually cause the glue to set almost immediately.  Don't dawdle!!!




After the glue is dry, the ends of the blanks are squared, either on a sander or by using a special tool which fits inside the brass tubes.  Then they are loaded on to a mandrel, or steel rod, which is inserted in a lathe.  Bushings (the silver metal pieces on each end and middle)  are used to help guide you in turning the blank to the proper diameter so the pen fittings line up flush with the wood.  The headstock of the lathe is at the upper left.  This drives the mandrel shaft.  The live center is at the lower right and is used to support the mandrel during the turning process


Sharp tools are an absolute must.  Here a roughing gouge is being honed. The wheel contains a polishing abrasive, and is used after a light grinding on the bench grinder.  A tool may be sharpened several times during the turning process depending on how tough the material is.  Certain woods such as Cocobolo, and deer antler are very hard and wear the tools down quickly.


Part 2:  Turning your pen...

JES WoodCrafting is a family-owned business located in Southern New Jersey that crafts fine writing instruments from exotic and native woods, acrylics and deer antler


( Also see  Wood Pen Blanks )


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