Pen Making Update 52: Happy Birthday to Den’s Pens

Wow, a year in updates. I was thinking about going back and reading through them and posting an end of year summery of what has happened. Well, I opened the text file I write all of these in and I looked at the page count… 85 flippin’ pages! At this point there are thirty two thousand three hundred and twenty seven words. Damnit, now there are almost thirty two thousand three hundred and forty words. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger like some sort of monster that needs to be fed pens to work on.

So we are going to do something a little different this week. This won’t be so much as a pen making update but a look back on things and what I do different now to how I started. And with this we are going to start at the end, so to speak. Which is the finishing of a pen.

  • Finishing

When I first started I was really flying blind. I went into my local Axminster (a chain of hardware stores in the uk for those of you that are unfamiliar) and looked at their blanks and picked up a few. I then looked around at how I would polish that sort of thing up. I was advised by a friend to get some sort of spray on lacquer. I went for it and this was the result, not the greatest finish and when it dried unevenly it looked awful. So the lacquer was out, I think I still have the spray somewhere still. From there I went to use micromesh pads. These were easy to use, just an extension of the sanding process but they took so damn long and I was never use when a pad had worn out as the grits were so fine, here is an example of a micromesh finishing job . So in October of last year I spoke to another pen maker, Bryan from the Worcester pen company (he is a total legend by the way) and he pointed me to using a three stage wheel buffing system which uses 3 different compounds on different hardness of buffing wheel. Brown goes on the hardest or most tightly packed wheel, followed by beige then finally yellow. The only other stage is a bit of a bath in warm soapy water. These come out really nicely and is what I use with a combination of sanding through 180, 240, 320, 400, 600 then 800 grit. Here is an example, although you have probably already seen this.

  • Shaping and Pen making

In the beginning there was a word, and that word was Cylinder (those were my first 2 ever pens by the way). I posted that I was going to be giving the pen making a go and someone replied to that message saying they hoped I wouldn’t just make pens which were effectively just cylinders with fountain pen nibs, or something like that, well that message is long gone now, I could never find it again. It was a comment which I have tried to keep to the centre of most of my design work.

However, yes I have a cylinder design as there is always an exception to the rule. This is one of my most recent ones. My other designs these days tend to be a bit more adventurous, This one I posted the other day, this one is one of my more popular designs, and this one takes that design and pushes it further.

Sections is another area where I have advanced. In the pictures I have linked above you can see I started off buying in the sections for the nibs but these days I make my own.

  • Materials

I started off working exclusivly with acrylics like kirinite, now I still use these and I really like using them as I find them very easily. However I have since moved on to using Ebonite, I actually tend to make sections out of this material whenever I have need for a black section. I have used casein, which comes out to a lovely shine and it is a pen I made for my wife . I have used Alumilite I made this pen and the skull pen from that material and it is very easy to work with. However…


  • Tools

My tooling has changed over time too. I started out with HSS lathe parts and now with indexible carbide tooling. I have a larger collection of files, as I said before I have different sanding and polishing tools. The big one though is that I now have a lathe at home rather than using the beat up one at work.

All of the above wouldn’t be possible without you people on this sub though. Thank you so much for the support you have given me for these updates and when I have had down moments. Thanks to u/newtonpens , u/FPFan , u/30aksBassets u/napsforlife and u/chewychewbacca for all the support and giving me a chance. There are more people too, these are the ones that spring to mind, thank you everyone.

Anyway that is it for this week, take care everyone and have a good weekend.

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