How Handcrafted Pens Are Made

In ancient times, pens were made of sticks, reeds, and even feathers. Today’s writing utensils come in a variety of materials and styles that are much more convenient. Handcrafted pens from the craftsmen at Caron Custom Pens are specially designed works of art. How are these unique instruments made? Keep reading to learn more.

Selecting the Perfect Material

Art Deco Ballpen

Custom pens are usually crafted from pen blanks. Blanks are blocks of solid material measuring 6 inches long, 1 inch tall, and 1 inch wide. They come in a variety of materials like wood, plastic, and acrylic. Pens can also be crafted out of horn, antler, and bone, but the most common materials are wood and acrylic. Acrylic blanks can incorporate a swirl of custom colors in the mixing process and are both durable and waterproof. Wood, on the other hand, is naturally sourced from a variety of wood species around the world, each with unique grains and colors.

Quality Wood Blanks

When it comes to selecting wood blanks for handcrafted pens, just about any species will work so long as it's high quality and not composite or engineered wood. Low-grade or commercial quality blanks are usually less dense compared to exhibition-grade blanks. Pens made from exhibition-grade blanks are more durable, beautiful, and have a more ergonomic feel when you hold them. Wood cut from the trunk of the tree usually has straighter lines and fewer knots, unless the blanks are cut on the bias.

Blanks cut from wood burls are prized for their unique patterns, spots, and swirls. Burls are points of excess wood growth on the tree, usually on the trunk at a juncture point or around the base of the tree. They aren't particularly attractive on the tree but cutting them away reveals beautifully detailed wood marbling.

Tools of the Trade

Civil War Pen

Several tools are used in the crafting process and safety is important when handling these high-powered tools. The potential for injury while working in a woodshop warrants the use of safety goggles, work gloves, a face shield, a long-sleeved shirt, and close-toed shoes. Crafters must also be familiar with the following tools: bandsaw, drill press, hand mill, and lathe. Smaller trimming tools are used during the shaping process and wood varnish is applied to give the pens a finished look.

Crafting and Turning

Once a blank has been selected, it's cut into two pieces that'll later become the cap and body of the pen. A drill press is used to drill a hole through the center of each piece. A copper or brass pipe is inserted into the hole and held in place with super glue. Excess glue is removed from the pieces with a hand mill once the glue has dried. The blanks are then placed on the lathe which will rotate the wood pieces at very high speeds.

Cutting and trimming tools make short work of the wood blanks, rounding the square edges and forming the cylindrical shape of a writing utensil. The turning process is similar to how table and chair legs are also made. Lines and curves can be cut into the wood as it rotates for a unique look. The finished product is sanded with fine grit sandpaper to ensure a smooth finish. While some prefer the look of natural wood, a coat of varnish or wax will ensure your handcrafted pen is protected from the natural oils in your skin, as well as water and dirt.