Christmas 2007

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Project by Nils posted 12-12-2007 05:34 AM 1951 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well, as others have attested, pens are a very gratifying project! And the family is going to like them a lot for Christmas (I hope). I have a few more to do, but here’s the current production.

From left to right and top to bottom, these are:

  • Zebrawood American Classic ballpoint
  • Zebrawood Artists Pencil
  • Acrylic American Classic ballpoint (I know, not technically “lumber”, but still beautiful)
  • Cedar American Classic Rollerball
  • Purpleheart and Canarywood American Classic Fountain Pen
  • Amboyna Burl American Classic ballpoint

Most of this wood came from a Woodcraft grab bag, so I’m only guessing on the zebrawood, purpleheart, canarywood, and cedar. I was just going to make up wood names for my family, sending them off on a tizzy of research on Google and the Encyclopedia Brittanica, but I decided that would be too mean.

All the pen kits are from Woodcraft. I’m trying a lot of different kits to see which I like best – any recommendations would be welcome.

The Amboyna burl came from Global Wood Source in San Jose – for some reason they had an eight-blank package of Amboyna for $8! Even if all I get out of it is this pen, I’ll be very pleased, but I have drilled and cut blanks for a fountain pen/rollerball set (also American Classic) that I’ll be making for a special girl who had a big year this year – so I’m hoping I can get them to the finishing stage without too much exploding. The pen in the picture had two big chunks fly off during turning, which I was able to glue back on invisibly. I literally cannot find the glue line. It’s beautiful – and smells great while you’re turning it – but honestly, it’s nasty – basically all end grain, and very brittle.

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

10 comments so far

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5288 days

#1 posted 12-12-2007 01:41 PM

Great job on the pens Nils. The black and white one looks very cool.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 5163 days

#2 posted 12-12-2007 02:51 PM

yes great work nils i think i like the black and white also .

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5157 days

#3 posted 12-12-2007 03:03 PM

Good work. I have thought about, but never combined two contrasting woods on a pen. Yours works.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5443 days

#4 posted 12-12-2007 03:30 PM

awesome! They are beautiful

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View MarkWilk's profile


229 posts in 5159 days

#5 posted 12-12-2007 04:46 PM

Wow! Really outstanding. I got my start with Pens at a Woodcraft weekend class, and love it. Bought my lathe, chisels, mandrel, a grab bag and kits. They do have the expertise to get you started.

I’ve found if you want to turn a lot of pens, buying the kits at Woodcraft or will break your bank account. I’ve found kits of the same or better quality from several online sources. My current favorite is Jeff and Ryan are really great. Excellent prices, very reasonable shiping, quality kits, and wonderful assistance on the phone. Their site has a limited set of kits available, but they can get anything from Penn State at substantial discounts. They even have terrific customer service for repairs and replacments. I about 20 kits per month from them. Give them a try.

-- Mark, Atlanta,

View Nils's profile


141 posts in 5147 days

#6 posted 12-12-2007 07:35 PM

Thanks for the nice comments – I must say I really like the black and white pen as well – it’s incredibly smooth after sanding down to 14,000 grit with Micro Mesh – very nice tactile feeling. It’s an easy finish compared to the wood pens, which require multiple coats of a finish (I’ve used several different combos of CA, BLO, and HUT Crystal Coat).

Mark – Excellent advice – I really appreciate it. What are your favorite pen kits to make? I have made these American Classic ones so far, and I have glued up blanks for a few Euro style pens which I’ll be making this week. From what I can tell, the Penn State pens are the same as the Woodcraft pens. Is that your experience? I’m not totally happy with the twist pen mechanism in the Woodcraft American Classic pens – I’m hoping one of the other manufacturers has a better design.

Rikkor – The combined woods were not really planned, but I had a short piece of purpleheart and short piece of canarywood and thought I’d take a shot. They looked OK sitting together as big chunks, and I think they look good on a pen together.

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 5157 days

#7 posted 12-12-2007 08:18 PM

Lookin’ good, Nils!

-- Happy woodworking!

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5452 days

#8 posted 12-12-2007 08:31 PM

Thanks for the website. It’s one I haven’t tried yet but it looks good.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1359 posts in 5282 days

#9 posted 12-13-2007 06:46 AM

Nice work, great presents!

-- Bob A in NJ

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5610 days

#10 posted 12-13-2007 07:05 AM

yep, pens are fun, and addictive. Nice save on the exploding one. I have one I’m trying to save – cut a barrel a wee bit to short, I think I can fix it with another piece of wood – if I remove a little more to make room for it.

Funny all the comments about the ones that aren’t wood. Looks cool (hate the smell of cutting plastic though.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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