Making wooden pen in not only an enjoyable hobby, it can also put a few extra dollars in your pocket.
Today many people appreciate a fine writing instrument, and what better way to show style than with an elegant, environmentally friendly pen or pencil.
When customers consider a wooden pen, they look for several things.
Remember to sell a pen; you must get the customer’s attention. One of the best ways to do that is with an interesting species, color, texture, or finish. Without these critical factors, the customer likely will not even notice the pen; much less pick it up for a closer look.’
After the customer picks up the pen, he or she is focused on the craftsmanship. Is the fit excellent? The finish perfect? Is the pen easy to use? Does it fit the hand? During this time, the customer usually will closely examine the wood and look for something that stands out.
How can you make sure you have enough blanks and be sure your pens have what it takes to make the customer look closer? One way is cutting them yourself from almost any type of wood you have in your local area.
While exotic blanks have their place and make for nice looking items, local wood certainly can be very attractive. Furthermore, you cannot beat the price, especially if you cut them yourself.
The tools needed are few. In fact, only one power tool is essential, that being the table saw. While a chain saw is very useful and will make the job easier, a handsaw will do nicely if you provide the power.
When looking for blanks, I usually focus on small limbs or trees between 5-7 inches in diameter. I then saw these pieces into lengths of 8 inches long. This size is fairly easy to saw with a 10′ table saw.
Immediately after cutting the limb to size, take latex house paint and paint two heavy coats on the exposed ends of the wood. This will prevent cracks from developing and ruining it for use as pen blanks.
Before sawing the wood, it must dry. This usually takes about 10 months on a piece of wood this size. Of course, it is best to keep your wood out of the weather during this drying process.
o IMPORTANT: You can get seriously injured and/or hurt sawing limbs lengthwise on a table saw. These limbs are prone to stick and wedge on your blade causing the wood to fly out of the saw if you are not careful. This can cause your hand to slip into the blade. You are responsible for your own safety while using this or any other power tool.
When the wood is dry, I cut it approximately 7/8 inch wide then cut blanks 7/8 inch square. This makes a handy size blank for most any pen you might make.
Also, while at it, cut some 2 inch by 3-inch blanks for bottle stoppers. Consider making a pen, pencil, letter opener, and bottle stopper from the same type of wood.
Here is a helpful tip: Label each individual blank with the type of wood when you complete the sawing operation. Use something permanent such as a Sharpie pen. You may recognize the wood today but I guarantee it will be hard to ID a year from now when mixed in with other blanks of similar type of wood. If you are not careful, you will end up with what wood turners call “FIG” wood. FIG means, “found in garage”
This is a good time to consider storage of your blanks. Options include plastic totes that fit a shelf space such as a plastic shoebox or something bigger if needed. Plan ahead, you will find you may have more pen blanks than you have room for!
So keep looking for wood that you can turn into pen/pencil/stopper blanks, have fun, and perhaps put a few extra dollars toward your hobby.