This page will guide you through the process of custom designing your handmade pen. I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for you (though the possible combinations are nearly unlimited!) Let me start with the one thing I know most people want to know right up front.....my pens run from $30 to $75 in price. Price depends largely on the wood used and level of effort for the prep of the pen blank. More detailed designs of course require more time. So have fun designing your custom pen!
Step One: Pick the wood (or other material) you would like me to use. Keep in mind that more than one type of wood can be used. You may either choose different woods for top and bottom of writing utensils OR you may choose to have a pattern design within the body of the pen or pencil. A stripe down the middle. Diagonal stripes across the pen. A circle or two around the barrel. We can discuss the options in final design phase.
Below you will find a series of photos of some of the various woods that can be used. These are ones I either have in stock regularly or that can be easily obtained and which are the most popular. If you would like to search the web for additional woods just look for "pen making blanks" and you will find a load of other options. OR email me with your phone # and I will call you to discuss. I have tried to provide some idea of the qualities of the woods below. And by the way the background of this page is of maple wood, also an option for your pen!
Bloodwood (Brosimium rubescens)
This beautiful heavy wood is as red as blood and as smooth as silk It has been used principally as an accent wood for fancy box making as well as for Billiard-Cue butts, drum sticks, Xylophones and organ pipes. Originating in Brazil, French Guiana, and Surinam, other names for it are "Satine Rouge", "Conduru" and Satinjout"
I love working this wood and it makes for a beautifully smooth and lustrous pen with a shiny finish. Looks gorgeous with gold and black fittings.
Bocote (Cordia alliodora)
Bocote is a large canopy tree, with some specimens in the natural rainforest reaching up to 120 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. The wood is sought for its beauty for both the local and international markets. Bocote has become quite rare in many parts of its original range. It is a particularly fine, beautiful wood, with colors varying from light to golden brown and variegated irregular markings. It has an attractive ray fleck figure if quartersawn (not typically found in pen blanks). Bocote is a strong lustrous wood, with medium and uniform texture and straight or shallowly interlocked grain. Bocote is in great demand for boat decking, fine cabinetry, fine furniture, decorative and figured veneer, moldings, inlay work, joinery, and turnery. Bocote is sometimes used as a substitute for mahogany, teak or walnut.
Good to work and makes a lovely pen if you want something on the darker side. Looks best with gold fittings.
Bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannli)
Pinkish red, darkening with exposure, often called African Rosewood, hard & heavy, taking a beautiful finish. West Africa.
Good to work, also a lovely pen but not quite as lustrous as the Bloodwood. A bit more muted in coloring. More...reserved in its display. Would work best with black fittings to show it off.
Canarywood (Centroloblum orinocense)
Straight grained and a medium to Coarse texture. Yellow color with streaks of a variety of reds, golds & brown. Color will age to a deep golden yellow tone. Central America
OK to work, the coarse texture makes it a little more difficult to finish smoothly but it makes a pretty pen if you want something very light in color. Would look stunning with black fittings. Also might be a candidate for use with an accent wood. Yes! we can do that too! For example a Canarywood pen with a strip of ebony layed diagonally across to create a diagonal line in the barrel of your pen. Adds a little to the cost but makes for a stunning accent.
Ebony (Diospyros melanoxylon)
Ebony is the Greek word for "fruit of the gods". Historically drinking gobblets were made from its wood, as they believed it was an antidote for poison, and its use would ward off their enemies evil intent. There are 100's of types of ebony worldwide, but most are only shrubs, and only one found in N. America .. the persimmon tree. This species is known for it's use in the manufacture of golf clubs. The trees today are few and far between, and of a much smaller size then 20 years ago, ... found on the Asian, Indian and African continents. Trees can grow to 50' in height & 1 1/2' around, but you're talking about a tree over 100 years old. The various forms of ebony can vary from a pure black (gaboon ebony from Africa) to a dark chocolate brown with dramatic black or slightly grey and beige streaks (macassar ebony from Indonesia). Picture above is the macassar ebony wood. Today it is getting more difficult to get the pure black ebonys.
Excellant wood to work on a lathe, makes a very lustrous pen and takes a shine well.
Chechen (Metopium brownei)
Also called Black Poison Wood this wood comes from Mexico and Central America. Color ranges from amber to dark brown, often with a range of colors and contrasting streaks. This wood is quite hard, dense, and tight-grained. With care, a beautiful, lustrous finish can be obtained. Slightly oily, but not as much as teak.
This wood has quite a lot of variability which is why I have provided two samples of appearance. It's good to work and as noted above takes a shine nicely.
Cocobolo (dalbergia retusa)
Many people refer to cocobolo as "rosewood", and rosewood has been the most popular name for this species of exotic hardwood. However, rosewood refers to more than 100 species of trees and shrubs, indigenous to various tropical locations in the world. In this sense, "rosewood" is a very generic term. The cocobolo I use is the most dense and strongest of all the rosewoods, and considered the most beautiful exotic wood due to it's colors and highly figured grain patterns. Cocobolo is the second most dense wood in the world, it has twice the density of walnut. Rosewood is a generic term for a variety of wood species belonging to the Papilionatae family of trees. For the last 150 years, rosewood has been the word of choice to describe many of these exotic wood species. The word "cocobolo" originated in the 1800's in Panama to describe the species dalbergia retusa. It comes from the Spanish words "coco" meaning phantom and "bolo" meaning log. Several other closely related species have since adopted the use of the word cocobolo, notably Granadillo from Mexico and also Honduran Rosewood, but the original cocobolo is dalbergia retusa from Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
I love working this wood and it makes a beautiful pen. Takes a lovely shine and looks really great with black or gold fittings.
Rosewood, Honduras (Dalbergia stevensonii)
Hard, heavy and dense, the heartwood is pinkish to purple brown with irregular black markings. Grain is straight with a medium to fine texture. Sapwood is a striking contrast of creamy white. Central America
OK to work. Takes a reasonably nice shine when completed. Looks good with all fitting finishes.
Maple, Big Leaf Burl (Acer macrophyllum)
Also known as Pacific or Oregon maple, grows in the Pacific Northwest and is one of the softest of the maples. Maple burl has elegant and interesting swirled grain patterns, often combined with various forms of quilting and bird's eyes.
This makes a really unique and beautiful pen though it is a bit more expensive as are all of the burls. Not bad to work though requires caution due to it's tendency to break up. There are a variety of other "burls" as well and if you are taken by the swirling nature of the grain in this wood perhaps we should discuss further some other options.
Padauk (Pterocarpus soyauxii)
Medium to hard wood, heartwood is deep orange red that will age to a deeper orange brown. Moderately coarse grain texture with straight to interlocking grain patterns, machines and turns well. West Africa
Very nice wood to work, takes lovely finish, one of my favorites. Great with black fittings.
Medium to hard wood with tight, fairly straight grain with moderate to coarse texture. Brownish when cut, lightens to purple with sun exposure. Finish application stops the process before it goes back to brown. Central and South America
Nice variation in color in finished product makes for uniqueness. Sometimes has some white flecking in finished product.
Tulipwood (Dalbergia frutescens)
Hard dense wood with a pinkish to yellowish heartwood with pronounced stripes of violet, salmon, and rose. Grain is interlocked and irregular with a medium to fine texture and a pleasantly mild fragrance when cut. Brazil
This is a very nice wood to work and makes a very nice pen with stripes of salmon color running lengthwise. The colors in the photo above are a bit misleading as the brownish hues are really more salmon colored. Again, however, the wood doesn't take a shine like some others do but it is very pretty.
Wenge (Millettia laurentii)
Dark brown in color with very close grain and fine black veins. Fairly straight grained with coarse texture. Commonly used for flooring and furniture. Wenge is a special wood. Some might even say it is rich in mystic powers. For hundreds of years it has been used in its native Africa to make ceremonial masks and statues paying homage to gods. Wenge and the closely related species panga-panga are indigenous to Africa. In fact, they so closely resemble one another that in some areas, the wood is sold interchangeably. Wenge grows in swampy areas in Zaire, Cameroon, and Gaboon. Panga-panga, on the other hand, grows in the open forests of Mozambique and Tanzania. Both trees are modest in height — averaging about 60 feet with 2-foot diameters, although the trees can grow as tall as 90 feet with 3- to 4-foot diameters. Wenge is a very distinctive looking wood, with a dark brown heartwood. It has very close, fine black veins and white lines, which are really closely spaced strips of parenchyma.
Can be difficult to work, very similar to Ebony with more grain visible.
Additional materials available at this time include a variety of colors of acrylic (see letter opener below for sample).
Step Two: Pick the fittings. All of the fittings you will select are purchased by me from various suppliers. There is an inordinate number of choices on the market, but I have found some of the kits to be inconsistent in quality or difficult to use so I will not provide those here as options. As I am still building my repertoire of kits that I have experience with the options for you will increase over time. For now this is what I feel comfortable offering and I believe you will find something here to please.
Slim Line Pens, Pencils and Letter Openers to match
All images below taken from the Woodcraft web site.
The fittings (which include the tips, band, clip and where applicable the plunger) come in a variety of colors. These include gold with black stripe, titanium, gold, satin gold, satin nickel and satin pearl. The insert above shows satin pearl, satin gold and satin nickel. Most of the pens I have made have been with the gold or gold with black stripe and these seem to be the most popular. If you have a desire for "specialty " clips they are available with such themes as golf (a golf club), religious (a cross) and medical (a medical cadusa) among others.
These ball point pens utilize a classic straight barrel design with twist action.
The pencil kits are free acting and smooth, eliminating the troublesome and frustrating mechanism "hang-ups" common to many mechanical pencils. This fool proof, non-jamming tip is specially designed to feed the correct amount of .5mm lead with each click of the plunger top.
Since these pens are more delicate and smaller than the ones below, I often make them with a bulge in the lower body to allow better grip. This design feature is entirely up to you, so let me know when you order!
Also available to match these pen/pencil combos are letter openers in the following styles:
Dagger (red acrylic handle)
Euro (appears to be a Wenge handle, Ebony would be a more solid black)
Classic American Style Pens/Pencils
(again, you may order the letter openers above to go with a set)
As I think you can see in these images, this pen features a larger (3/8") diameter lower body and (1/2") diameter upper body. Double twist mechanism turns left or right to extend the ball point, turn to center position to retract. Unscrew the upper body to remove and replace the refill. The pencil features a smooth operating twist mechanism which feeds .7mm lead as you need it. Cobalt Gold, Woodcraft Gold, Black Titanium, Satin Nickel, Satin Gold or Satin Pearl finish.
As you can see above there are a variety of additional fittings options. Let me know when you order if you you have questions about any of these options.
Here is a fountain pen to go with the Classic American set.
My favorite, the Wall Street II pen and pencil set. Available with a variety of fittings.
Chrome Black Chrome
This is the Wall Street II Pencil in Copper:
Step 3: Decide on a case. All pens come in a fabric sleeve as seen in A below. However, if you would like a case for sets or individual pens there are many available at varying prices. Just a few are seen here. In addition I am able to provide a custom wooden case if you wish.
Step 4: Use the information form on my website to provide your specifications and questions and I’ll contact you. We will finalize the design and I will provide you with the final price prior to your verifying that you would like me to begin work.
I hope you have found a treasure you will enjoy for many many years on this page!