Making a Pen
How We Handcraft Our Artistic Writing Instruments
Once we receive your order, we gather the necessary parts that will become your new writing instrument. I look at the wood blank and decide how best to capture the character of the wood on the pen. Each wood blank has its own character with different colors, grain patterns, burls, swirls, and knots.
Once I decide how the wood blank will be used, I mark and cut the wood blank to the correct length. This time I am crafting a Nouveau pen so the wood is cut in two pieces. I place a mark across the ends of the two pieces of wood so I can match the grain of the blank.
I drill the blanks so brass tubes can be inserted in them.
After the glue cures the ends of the blanks are sized and squared with the brass tubes.
Here you can see the ends are cleaned, squared and sized. If you look close you can see where I have marked the insides of the brass tubes to maintain the grain match. These pieces are ready to be turned!
I place the blanks on a pen mandrel and begin turning them on a lathe to make a rounded barrel. The pen mandrel has bushings used to roughly size the barrels to the individual pen being made.
I continue turning the barrels down until they match the size of the bushings and have the shape I am wanting.
I now start working with each barrel individually using different grits of sandpaper for all of the final sizing of the barrels.
Throughout the whole sanding process I will clean off the barrel between sizes of sandpaper.
Calipers are used to perfectly match the size of each barrel end to the piece the will be pressed in the brass tube during final assembly. We could get by a whole lot quicker and easier by just turning/sanding to the size of bushings. "Quality Matters" to us and that is why we utilize this extra step in the pen making process.
Next comes the process of applying the finish on the barrel. This process usually takes longer then all of the time we have spent up until now making the pen barrels! This is our special finishing technique that provides a glossy, long lasting and durable finish to our writing instruments. Here again, "Quality Matters" and we WILL NOT utilize a simple finishing technique so we can sell pens cheaper. If someone wants a cheap pen, they need to find the person that makes pens utilizing just some friction polish or some other quick finishing process that will not last very long.
Next I do a final cleaning and squaring of each barrel end. I use the lathe to square the ends of the blanks. This provides the absolute best squared end of any other method available in a wood shop. Others may use cutters on the drill press, a jig on a belt sander or countless other possibilities. Once again, "Quality Matters" and you can rest assured that we will only use the best means to produce our high quality writing instruments. After this step is complete, the pen finish is allowed to cure for a minimum of 72 hours before proceeding.
Now it is time to put all the pieces together. I use a press to insert the different components inside each barrel. I use the marks inside the barrels to lineup the wood grain so it is matched when the pen is closed.
We now have a finished Nouveau pen ready to be shipped to our customer.
I wanted to take this time to point out (if you haven't noticed) that "Quality Matters" to us at D&J Wood Designs. "Quality" these days can be hard to find and the same holds true in our industry. All pens are NOT created equal and there will be other pen makers that have the same "style" of writing instruments priced cheaper than you will find here. "You get what you pay for" certainly holds true today. I should say, for the most part, that old saying holds true. I have seen what a competitor charges for the same pens that we make and it is what I would call criminal to charge such high prices. I think one good way of telling the quality of the pen maker is to see how well they stand behind the product they craft by the warranty they offer. We offer a full one year warranty and actually if anytime in the years to come you have a problem with one of our writing instruments, just give us a call and we will try and help. Why?.......because "Quality Matters" and it always will at D&J Wood Designs. Thank you!