As The Lathe Turns #73: More Pens

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Blog entry by William posted 03-10-2014 02:00 AM 3585 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 72: Pens Part 73 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 74: Sanding And Sharpening »

I have been wanting for such a long while to do some truly higher end pens, made with some higher quality kits. I have neglected doing so purely for financial reasons. These kits are not cheap, and there is no guarantee I’ll be able to sell them for enough to make it feasible to even be making them. I wanted to so badly though. So I’ve been getting a little here and a little there, working up to making just such presentation as I hope to show you today.
So let’s get started.

. The Tycoon

For each of my pens, I’d like to first quote what the site that sells the kits says about each pen style.
“The Tycoon is simply a great looking pen. This kit features ultra smooth and durable threading, a regal design and striking facets on the rollerball nib. Plus the 24kt gold plating offers a bright pure gold plating that will give your pen a rich and luxurious look. Our 24kt gold uses a “premium rack plating” process and is covered with an epoxy coating for extreme durability. We guarantee it’s beauty and durability with a lifetime guarantee.”
This Tycoon pen is made of cherry burl with coffee grounds inlaid into the voids.
I find myself more and more wishing to take the worst of the ugly pieces of woods and make them interesting, if not beautiful. This pen is a perfect example of that.
For each half of the pen I used two pieces of end scraps off a block of cherry burl. I carefully glued them to each end of the pen tubes and allowed them to dry. Next I turned the blanks down to about an eighth of an inch over final size. Then I started taking a tiny bit of coffee grounds at a time and gluing them into the space between the two pieces until I built the coffee grounds up above the point where it was turned to. Then I allowed that to cure completely and finished turning, sanding, and finishing the pen.
All the pens in this post are finished with ten coats of boiled linseed oil and cyanoacrylate glue, buffed up to twelve thousand grit micro mesh, buffed with plastic polish, and then given two coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax.

This Tycoon pen is made of live oak burl with the voids filled with grits.
I love burls in general. I have yet to find one I don’t like the look of. Oak burl has to be my favorite though. It was when my supply of it got low enough that I had to start using pieces with voids in them though that I realized the beauty that adding contrast to the material could do to it. I was originally afraid it would take away from the interesting and twisting grain of the oak burl. Instead though, it only added to the intricity of it.

. The Apollo Infinity

“Introducing the elegant Apollo Infinity™ Gold Titanium Gel Rollerball Pen Kit – the next generation of pen from the Apollo Elite™ group. This pen features the “infinity” band – a revolutionary 3-D band style exclusive to the Apollo Infinity™. The pen keeps the same elegant rounded profile of the original Apollo Elite™. Includes smooth writing Black Gel ink. The Gold Titanium (TN) plating looks just like gold and is absolutely permanent. It will even outlast our guaranteed standard gold finishes. All TN kits are stamped with a “TN” indicated on the pen clip to authenticate it’s Titanium status.”
This Apollo Infinity pen is made of oak burl with coffee grounds for the inlay.
I couldn’t help myself. After seeing how the last oak burl and coffee pen turned out, I had to create the look again for the Apollo pen.

This Apollo Infinity pen is made with box elder burl. The void is inlaid with salt.

. The Majestic

“The magnificent Rollerball Pen Kit will inspire your creative talents and will delight your recipient a hand made pen that will exceed even the most discriminating collector’s expectations. The Majestic Pen includes many remarkable features including: A rhodium-plated clip that includes a sparkling Swarovski clear crystal; All exposed accent rings, bands and caps include elegant custom hand-carved 3 dimensional designs; Components are cast, polished then plated with extremely durable Black Titanium plating; Its regal profile is accented with brilliant rhodium-plating on all components and has a flawless fit and finish; The rollerball assembly includes a rhodium-plated pen nib with a premium Schmidt steel cartridge refill with a ceramic point; The finished project is complimented with superb balance, superior writing characteristics and an overall stylish, polished & elegant appearance.”
This Majestic pen is made with walnut burl.
I only had enough walnut burl to do one more pen. Since this was my favorite design of all the premium pen kits I’d ordered, I decided to use that burl to make the Majestic.

. The Broadwell Art Deco

“Penn State Industries is proud to team up again with accomplished pen designer David Broadwell to bring you this exquisitely original Art Deco Rhodium & 22kt Gold Fountain Pen Kit. Art Deco was an opulent and lavish art form that spanned the 1920’s and 1930’s. The art form influenced architecture, industrial design, interior design, fashion, and film of the period.”
The Art Deco Pen features:
All components are cast, polished and plated with a durable Rhodium & 22kt Gold plating.
Includes spires and star bursts that characterize the Art Deco period.
Pen clip features unique Art Deco design and a radiant Swarovski Crystal.
Easily posts with threads on the end cap.
The cap is 3-D cast with intricate Art Deco detail.
The Pen Band is cast and gold plated with Art Deco detail.
Medium Schmidt™ gold and Iridium nib plus an ink pump and ink cartridge.
This Art Deco pen is made with cherry burl and coffee grounds.
I removed the pen kit from the packaging and was studying on what I would like to use for the wood. It just happened that I laid the parts out to get a better feel for them and they were right beside the pen I’d done earlier with cherry burl and coffee ground. I realized that, although I’d done it earlier, it would also look great on this pen.

. The Broadwell Nouveau Sceptre

This is another kit designed for Penn State by David Broadwell, and features:
All exposed accent rings, bands and caps include elegant custom casted three dimensional Art Nouveau designs.
Components are cast, polished and plated with a durable 2 micron 22kt gold plate and Rhodium.
The Rollerball and Ball Point styles include a Schmidt rhodium plated pen nib with a steel cartridge with a ceramic point.
This Nouveau Sceptre is made of zebra wood.
Sometimes I am unsure what to make a pen out of until I open the package and look to get a “feel” for what will look good on it. Some pens just scream “I need some flare!” So it was with the Nouveau Sceptre. So I searched through my blanks. I thought about using burl and filling in voids for much the same kind of look I’d given most of my pens lately. This pen though, to me, demanded not to be presented with patched in beauty, but a hard wood that had flowing lines, much like the design elements of the hardware. So I thought about the diagonal cut zebra wood.


All of the pen kits used to make these and more can be found here at Penn State industries.


That’s it my friends.
I may never find a buyer for these pens. If they sit in my showcase forever though, it was worth it, because I sure had a good time making them.
So until next time,


19 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4098 days

#1 posted 03-10-2014 02:12 AM

These are all great looking pens! You seem to have pen making down pat!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View JL7's profile


8786 posts in 4045 days

#2 posted 03-10-2014 02:14 AM

Wow….there all gems. I believe you will find buyers for all of them. You have really been busy…..great stuff.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View lightcs1776's profile


4266 posts in 2734 days

#3 posted 03-10-2014 02:16 AM

Absolutely impressive. I cannot imagine that you will have difficulty selling those, to the right buyers, as they are pieces of art.

-- Chris ** If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. — Tom Paine **

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#4 posted 03-10-2014 02:18 AM

Thanks Jeff.

Erwin, I enjoy making them, but I promise never to say I have it down pat.
It seems that anytime I ever think I “have it” when it comes to the lathe, things start getting wonky.
So I have to remember to have some humility and realize that I’m always learning.
In my opinion, it isn’t the lathe.
It is the fact that any man who thinks he has mastered working wood in any form or fashion, mother nature will throw a wood grain at you that will make you think different.

By the way, when are you coming through Mississippi again?
I’m running out of oak burl.
I’m broke after buying pen kits, but we can trade some of my work for burl.

I’m just kidding.


View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#5 posted 03-10-2014 02:19 AM

Thank you Chris.
The issue is going to be the price I will have to have for these, and the amount most people around here are willing to part with, may be a bit too far apart.


View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3755 days

#6 posted 03-10-2014 02:26 AM

What can I say that hasn’t already been said by EVERYONE!!!

Great stuff there.
No doubt that these will sell.
May just need to get them in front of the right customer!!!

Carry on…

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#7 posted 03-10-2014 02:40 AM

View Andy Ponder's profile

Andy Ponder

243 posts in 2787 days

#8 posted 03-10-2014 03:54 AM

Those are amazing!!!

I have got to learn to do that.

I’ve looked at some kits, but haven’t jumped in yet.


-- AP--I thought growing old would take longer.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#9 posted 03-10-2014 04:18 AM

Thanks Andy.

By the way, if you ever do make the leap, it is a slippery slope downhill from there.


View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3884 days

#10 posted 03-10-2014 12:21 PM

Super nice selection of pens. Always enjoy looking at your turnings.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#11 posted 03-10-2014 12:51 PM

Thank you roger.
Yours are always nice as well.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4383 days

#12 posted 03-10-2014 02:25 PM

those are some eye candy for sure, i say go to some banks and show them to the officers there, i bet you sell some..i wouldnt just let them sit in your shop, and i would for sure sell them at a price that i made a handsome deserve it william…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#13 posted 03-10-2014 02:31 PM

Thank you grizz.
I appreciate everyone’s comments about how easy these pens should be to sell.
I wish I had as much confidence.
Incidentally though, it seems I may be a better wood worker than a salesman.


View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3910 days

#14 posted 03-11-2014 12:47 AM

Wow! Elegant, unique, and well crafted. I hope you get buyers soon—they’re worth every penny!

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3922 days

#15 posted 03-11-2014 03:11 PM

Thank you doe.
I hope they sell when I get them out to be seen.
I have to make boxes for them first. All my more expensive pens I make boxes for. My thinking is that expensive pens will be usually either given as gifts or live on a desk. Either way, a box is needed and adds to the value.


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