"The Case of the Missing Pens"

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Project by Andy posted 11-22-2017 01:07 AM 4555 views 18 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Actually the pens are missing only because the client hasn’t put them in their new home yet. Since it seems like most everything we read, and is currently on TV, has a load of false drama added to it, I thought I would do the same just to make you feel more at home :-)

I was asked by former clients to design a case to hold a collection of Mont Blanc fountain pens. It continues to grow as new models are released yearly, so it was decided that the case needed to hold 50 pens. I was given a free hand on the both the design and the woods to be used. To help me reach this final design I approached the project this way:
I asked questions regarding their likes and dislikes regarding wood species, colors, and designs. People often have a hard time expressing what they like when designing a new piece, but they have little trouble telling you what they don’t like. That is valuable information in leading them to a design they will be happy with.
I also took pictures of both the furniture they have had commissioned over the years, as well as the other collections they have.

I then looked for pen boxes, cases, chests, etc., on the web and downloaded a few images I thought would work.
These were shown to the clients and a general consensus was reached regarding the design, wood choice, and leather color. It was decided that the design would be loosely based on the Greene and Greene style, basically the proud finger joints. I started drawing up designs based on what the Case needed to hold. The needed interior space (obviously) played a big part in the finished size. I wanted to keep it as small as possible, yet not sacrifice a good design in the process. I bounced a few ideas off the client to help me fine tune the design and then I proceeded to make a full scale set of drawings. When they were finished and all the bugs worked out, I made a full size Case out of plywood as a “proof of concept”. This mock-up box helped me see if the design was balanced, functional, and to also work out any problems regarding the build. I found some things that I needed to tweak. I am always glad when I take the time to make a mock-up of a new project that I feel will have some wrinkles in it.
I then sent photos onto the client and got a thumbs up to proceed.

I was able to lay my hands on this great Walnut board that I used for the body and lid, it was a uniform color, 9” wide, and had a wonderful grain.
Big Leaf Maple was used for the drawer fronts and the center lid panel
The handles are Wenge
The drawer/trays are Maple with Walnut and Paduak accents
The leather is suede pig skin. This was my first time using leather… a real learning experience but a good one.
The accents on the lid are Wenge and Padauk.
The hinges are by Andrew Crawford. They are called the Smart Hinge, and they are! Very easy to install and work great, I highly recommend them! It took about a week to get them over here from England.
The finish is lacquer.

I was just closing in on the completion phase of this Case when the customer called me early one morning all excited and said he had had an epiphany. He wanted me to add the Mont Blanc logo on the corner of the lid…if I could do it, and it needed to be small, about 1/2” in diameter. I said I would need to give it some thought and get back to him. Once I had some coffee and mulled over this added feature, I decided how to do it. I turned it over to my son who has access at his work to a laser, and he also has the skills needed to grab the graphics online and redraw them as needed and send it on to the laser. He cut several for me out of very thin SS.
Piece of cake for him.
I set one disc into a shallow hole filled with black epoxy, and sanded it smooth after it set hard. Then a few more coats of finish.

The customer was very pleased with end product.

Thanks for your support and comments!

-- If I can do it, so can you.

29 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4086 days

#1 posted 11-22-2017 01:45 AM

Andy! Just talking about you to some folks and set some people to look at your projects. An impressive body of art work.

Loved the details of the process of designing and building this box and that you did a mock up. Every professional I know that is successful uses the mock up for a tactile 3d view which gives the customer a FEEL for what you’re doing.

Hope all is well. Looked at the Etsy web page and didn’t see any new boxes posted. Nice to have access and other folk with talent to help out.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5295 days

#2 posted 11-22-2017 01:48 AM

That’s a Super Pen Case!

I really like the proud Box Joints… very nice…

... and the drawer insides… Very NICE!

They will like it for years… until they run out of room! :)

Thank you for sharing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View sras's profile


6346 posts in 4372 days

#3 posted 11-22-2017 02:03 AM

Stunning! As always:)

The leather is a nice touch.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View pottz's profile


20663 posts in 2227 days

#4 posted 11-22-2017 02:13 AM

as a pen maker myself,getting ready to make a bunch for the holidays this inspires me to make my pens a better home than those crappy cases they sell for storing also a big g&g fan so this case is on my list of to do’s.dont think ill have time though before the big day but on my did a beautiful job on this andy.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View drewpy's profile


1074 posts in 2600 days

#5 posted 11-22-2017 02:17 AM

Absolutely stunning. The details and wood are fantastic. Thanks for sharing this.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

-- Drew -- "The greatest wealth is health".

View Gary's profile


9419 posts in 4676 days

#6 posted 11-22-2017 04:45 AM

Everything you do is beautiful. Your clients are no doubt very proud of their purchase

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Boxguy's profile


2901 posts in 3511 days

#7 posted 11-22-2017 05:37 AM

Andy, of course this is a great box…you never miss that mark. I like the wood combinations, and the Green and Green details. This has great proportions. Is that wood or foam beneath the suede? i am not sure how the slides work in the drawers. Are those just grooves on the drawer sides with a wooden spline inside the box? The grain in the walnut and maple are really nice. As I have told your before…you are my hero. Keep boxing and keep posting.

-- Big Al in IN

View Sodabowski's profile


2401 posts in 4076 days

#8 posted 11-22-2017 10:42 AM

Wowza, wonderful box Andy!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View horky's profile


328 posts in 4174 days

#9 posted 11-22-2017 12:53 PM

A great job for sure. You will have one happy client. I take it the drawers are slip fit with no guides/glides?

View turnkey47's profile


322 posts in 3935 days

#10 posted 11-22-2017 01:51 PM

another beauty…the wood combination and finger joints are fantastic!!!!!!!!!

View Scott Dirt Road Woodworks's profile

Scott Dirt Road Woodworks

171 posts in 2567 days

#11 posted 11-22-2017 02:09 PM

That is a really nice pen case. Those drawers look great.


View Andy's profile


1724 posts in 5151 days

#12 posted 11-22-2017 02:30 PM

Doc, i just reactivated my Etsy account and the plan was to get some boxes on there…but they keep going other places.
Big Al, the pen trays are Alder shaped with a router. The trays set on a ledge at each side.
Horky, yes, no guides. They are designed to pull out and display on a table if desired.

I want to thank everyone for the kind comments.

-- If I can do it, so can you.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


8982 posts in 1956 days

#13 posted 11-22-2017 02:41 PM

WOW …..I love it all looks awesome …...GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View picofarads's profile


44 posts in 1431 days

#14 posted 11-22-2017 02:46 PM

Beautiful! I love the detail on the side of the drawers. Very nice work!

-- An open mind is apt to let anything in....or out!

View splintergroup's profile


5863 posts in 2465 days

#15 posted 11-22-2017 03:45 PM

Details everywhere! Thanks for the insights to your design process.

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