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Fancy Pen

So the first of the fancy pens is done. I actually processed all three of the blanks at once this weekend, but I only got to turn and finish one of them. I also have one remaining blank from Feinesholz to use for something else, but that’ll mean buying a new pen kit to evaluate.

So the rightmost and the middle pen blank there are both hybrid pen blanks with stabilised boxelder maple burl with resin, so I picked one of the two to use, and the other is still waiting. And I also cut down the elm burr (thats second from the left) and the blue stabilised boxelder maple burl blank that’s second from the right.

Cut to length, drilled for the brass tubes, scratched up the brass on some sandpaper and epoxied the tubes into the blanks.

And of course, I have a few offcuts. I don’t know if I can actually use these for keyfobs like I hoped, they’re a bit small, but I’ll have a think and see what I can do.

The epoxy went on on Thursday, didn’t get to the shed on Friday, and then on Saturday I dressed the ends and knocked off the edges on the lathe sanding wheel:

And then it was time to mount the first blank.

Some sheer blind luck there – I had missed the bit in the Taylors Mirfield instructions about how there are two size bushings for the part that becomes the pen body (the finial is slightly smaller than the nib) and it was only luck that I got them the right way round.

On Sunday, sharpened the spindle roughing gouge and the skew and got to work.

And now it’s sanding time. 600 dry sanding first, then wet-sanding up through the grits with the micromesh (I use water and dish soap for a liquid for the wetsanding). After every grit, stop the lathe, and sand along the axis of the pen, rotating by hand slowly to break up radial sanding lines. For the last two grits, wipe down with isopropanol between each one.

Then Yorkshire Grit, Yorkshire Grit Microfine, and car resin polish.

And one last coat of Hampshire sheed wax.

And that’s that. Then it was a matter of assembly and the Taylors Mirfield kit came partly assembled for the centerband and finial, which made life a bit easier.

That came out really nice. And two more to go this week, and I must buy a few more pen kits I think.


  1. Those are attractive colors. I have thought about doing pen and pencil turning kits, but they don’t seem to match a proper price point. Geared more for selling you the tools and stuff. Have you considered adapting commercial pens for the barrels you are cutting?

    I can get quit inexpensive fountain pens of very good function. gouletpens-dot-com are local in the USA and have a very good selection. I found Platinum brand to be very good. A Chinese brand even has a self-filling fountain pen turned in wood for the price of a modest gel pen. It works [almost] every time, where the Platinum won’t dry for a year, according to the spec.’s.

  2. Reskinning pens like that is a big thing in some places Bruce, but it’s a bit outside my skill level for the moment. And I tend to bounce from thing to thing in the shed as well, I do it more to keep my head sane than to try to commercialise it, so the price point isn’t the critical thing for me. If I can look at it afterwards and think “that’s pretty”, I’m usually happy 🙂

  3. You’ve inspired me to want to do a fountain pen. I use a fountain pen daily as I like the tactile feel between pen and paper. I’d like to buy a quality fountain pen. When I go online, there are too many choices and I don’t know what is good quality. Could you please help me and give me an idea of a website or a brand name for quality fountain pen parts? I live in the USA if that helps you direct me. Again, too many choices for a beginner. Thank you for your help.

  4. Read my earlier comment, Joe. Goulet carry pens and parts (nibs) for every budget. I have very good $5 pens, the cheapest Platinum, to one I’ll never have, the costliest commercially available. However, the functional differences are negligible. One may have gold plating. I use several for colored art sketching, and various nib sizes, but I prefer permanent ink.

    If you are after a kit to roll your own, so to speak, I am sure Mark would say to practice. I can’t give kit advice, other than they are all pretty much the same. And, remember, You need all the fixtures and jigs besides lathe to accomplish a finished pen. If you want a good one, $500 is my estimate to make or buy a pen. Or, go big and spend thousands. Japan likes to coddle its artistic traditions.

    As a youngster, I caught the tail end of the fountain pen era, before ball points took over. The new ones now are light years ahead of the old fountain pens in quality and maintenance.

    If you want good pens, functional pens, follow the artists. I didn’t but in a sense stumbled into good cheap fountain pens.

  5. For just a fountain pen rather than a kit do you mean Joe? If so, Pilot do some decent ones that are pretty cheap (under $20) but if you can go a little higher I think the Lamy Safari is pretty much the best of the inexpensive fountain pens – you don’t have to spend three figures to get a reasonable fountain pen. https://www.jetpens.com/LAMY-Safari-Fountain-Pen-Charcoal-Black-Fine-Nib/pd/5075

    However, if you did want to go nuts, the Lamy 2000 is iconic, but “nuts” for fountain pens kinda begins and ends with Montblanc. You can fairly easily spend the price of a small car on one…

  6. Thanks both for the feedback. I want to roll my own. I am part of a woodworkers club and can probably have one of the members drill the holes so I can epoxy in the metal bits. I am going to make the pen without a lathe in a manner that one might use for making a chisel handle or a wooden spokeshave. It won’t be perfectly smooth and round. But, it will be the one I made by my own hands so that will bring me great joy when I use it.

    I do use daily some sort of Pilot pen. I paid around $20 for it and it is a good pen and I am happy with it. Thanks for the suggestion though. At one point, prior to my purchasing the Pilot, I was using a disposable Zebra fountain pen. I was happy with it’s performance as well.

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