Making a Handcrafted Pen

Posted by Paul Shay 20/08/2017 0 Comment(s)


My handcrafted pens are handturned one at a time.  There are 12 steps that go into making each handcrafted pen.  This provides my customer's with a high quality pen that will last for years.  Each pen is a true one-of-a-kind work of art hand-made by myself in my workshop.  Below are the steps that each pen goes through and images taken of me making a pen. 


Step 1:  Select the Material


Our pen bodies are hand turned from exotic woods, hard woods, acrylic, antler, alligator jaw, and other materials.  The exotic wood is wood from all over the world.  Some of our pens contain wood inlays providing beautiful contrasts in wood color and grain patterns.  We use some dyes to color the wood different colors such as red, blue, green; however, we do not use any stains on our wood pens. If the pen does not specify it has been dyed then the pen is the natural wood color without the use of stains. 


Step 2: Cut the Material to Size

Each pen starts with a block of material shaped in a rectangle called the blank.  This blank usually needs to be 5.5 inches long and 3/4 by 3/4 inches. 

Cut pen blank


Step 3: Drill the Pen Blank

A hole must be drilled through the center of each pen blank.  Depnding on the blanks design or pattern is very little room for error when drilling and the hole needs to be as close to center of the blank as possible.  We use over 13 different size drill bits for drilling the center holes.  The size hole needed varies from pen to pen. 

drill pen blank


Step 4:  Sand and glue in Brass Tubes

Brass tubes are sanded and then glued into the holes drilled in the pen blanks.  Sanding the surface of the brass tube provides a rough surface for the glue to adhere too.  Different pens have different diameter and length tubes that must be used. 

Sand pen tubesglue pen tubes into blanks


Step 5: Trim and Clean Pen Blank

After the glue dries the pen blank is trimmed and cleaned so the pen blank material ends are flush with the brass tubes. 

trim and flush pen blanks


Step 6:  Hand-turn the Pen Blank

The blank is mounted on the lathe and the design and crafting of the pen begins.  The pen is handturned from a rectangle blank to a rouch shape of a pen using several different wood chisels. The pen blank is hand turned until the rough shape is slightly larger than the pen components. 

hand turn pen blank


Step 7:  Sand the Pen Blanks

The pen blanks are then sanded from 120grit sand paper up to 800 grit sand paper. 

sanding pen blanks


Step 8:  Apply Finish to Pen Blanks

Several coats of finish are applied to the pen blank.  Depending on the type of finish used each pen blank may get 3 to 8 coats of finish. 

applying finish


Step 9:  Sand Finished Pen blank

The pen blank is then sanded with micromesh sandpaper up to 12,000 grit. 

sand finish of pen blank


Step 10:  Buff the Finished Pen Blank

Buffing wheels are mounted on the lathe and the pen blanks are buffed prior to assembly. 

buff finished pen blanks


Step 11: Assemble the Pen Blank

The pen is then assembled by hand with all of the components required based on the style of pen.  The mechanical mechanisms to extract and retract the refill are then tested for smooth operation. 

assembly of pen


Step 12:  Polish Pen

The fully assembled pen is then waxed and polished to bring the finish to a mirror like shine. 


Each pen is then carefully packaged and shipped or placed on our online store and ready to be purchased.  Whether the pen is in stock or a custom made-to-order pen the same 12 steps are used.  


Copyright © 2017, Shay Pens and Fine Woodworking, LLC. 

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