Handcrafting Pens From Local Wood

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The art of pen making is one of the basic techniques that wood workers initially use when they begin their wood turning adventure.  Almost all practice many hours on pieces of wood not considered usable for better projects or with wood that contains a good portion of sapwood.  After that, the number of wood sources explodes to the awesome struck wood turner.


Many pen crafters look for many types of local hardwoods to turn out beautiful looking handcrafted pens. Many start out as pen collectors well before they began wood turning. For many, pen making is an extension of that passion, coupled with the detail orientation of turning wood.  Thus, many businesses are born! Their pens are usually available on the wood workers’ website and there you will notice the large selection of hardwoods they draw upon to turn into pens.  Of all the exotic and burl wood available to them, their favorite wood to turn is wood local to their shop.


Most wood workers are fortunate to reside in areas of the country and have access to many different types of hardwoods that are not as common elsewhere.  Some of the favorite hardwoods to turn are Red and White Oak, Black Cherry, Black Walnut, Beech, Birch, Black Walnut and Maple.  There is also an ample supply of curly Maple around for turning.


Some pen crafters also use Cedar from some trees that are lost due to Mother Nature and quite a few pen blanks from the wood are turned.  It’s a very aromatic wood and in a workshop where Cedar is being turned, the aroma is outstanding.  It also makes a beautiful pen.


The local hardwoods that many pen crafters turn seem to have much better inner markings that result in fantastic and exquisite designs on the pens.  It takes time, but as pen crafters come across these pieces, they naturally take more time to ensure the desired look is turned into the pen.  Once sanded, sealed and finished, nothing is more beautiful than watching a creation come to life.


It’s hard to put a price on some pieces, but in reality, the going price is the same as all other hardwood pens a wood worker turns out  When a customer sees that piece and appreciates it as much as they do, they’re satisfied the handcrafted pen will be well cared for.  Pens that exhibit a more defined character may very well end up in the wood workers personal collection. 


At many wood working shops all the handcrafted pens created are made to be used as well as shown off.  That has made more and more customers to want a piece for themselves. The local supply of hardwoods will not run out in anyone’s lifetime, so pen turners can create for the customer what they desire. When completed, the customer had a work of art which exhibited characteristics of hardwoods which complimented each other.


Most wood workers love the appearance of many of the exotic hardwoods, but will forever love the local hardwood species just outside their shop door.  The graining of Bocote and Jobillo are stunning; as are the colors in Tulipwood and Orange Osage and Marblewood.  They are beautiful to look at, but not native to most pen crafters’ home areas. Most turn all woods and enjoy them, but take a greater pleasure out of turning hardwoods from home.  Check the website for all of your local pen crafters selections for sale.


© Paul Witmer 2010

Paul Witmer is a pharmaceutical engineering profssional and avid wood worker specializing in fine pens. Paul is also co-owner of www.WitmerEnterprises.com

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