Stone Pen Series Pre-Order

Stone Pen Collection

Over the years I’ve made pens from a wide variety materials. Historic wood, the handle of a hockey stick, acrylic, even discontinued acetate. But most recently, I tried something truly out of the norm. Solid stone.

I’ve worked with a material known as true stone, which is mostly stone….roughly 85% stone suspended in resins. But solid stone is entirely a horse of a different color. As nice as the true stone is that I sometimes use, it is still a man-made material. And if working with wood has taught me anything, it’s that nature creates incredibly beautiful works of art.

The line of stone pens I’m making is made from Alabaster, a softer stone that can be turned on my wood lathe. There are some changes and considerations I need to bear in mind as I work the stone, especially prior to mounting it on the lathe. But once the stone is turned and sealed, I sand it and buff it thoroughly, letting the natural beauty of the stone shine through.

I expect to begin shipping these pens near the end of February in both red and gray, but I am currently accepting pre-orders that will include a Free handcrafted leather journal.

Click & Twist Stone Pens

Ballpoint Click (top 2): Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 cartridge, chrome & 10k gold plate: $265

Ballpoint Twist (bottom 2): Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 cartridge, rhodium & titanium gold plate: $275

Fountain & Rollerball Pens

Rollerball (top 2): Schmidt Fine point cartridge, postable cap, rhodium & 22k gold plate: $325

Fountain Pen (bottom 2): Fine point Bock nib, 1 Private Reserve Velvet Black cartridge, 1 twist converter, postable cap, rhodium & 22k gold plate: $385

Stone Fountain Pen

GW Pen Box ClosedGW Pen Box Open

Also! Included with each pen is a custom pen case with a magnetically sealed lid and a red satin interior. The GW on the lid is silver foil, the logo I use for GW Pens.

To Pre-Order you can use my Contact Me page or order directly through my site. Remember, the free leather journal is only included on pre-orders!

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That Instagram Thing & GW Pens

GW Pens

OK, I really haven’t forgotten about my blog. It seems that most of what I’ve had to say lately has been much easier to capture with just a picture and a short blurb (although I have some BIG news coming in just a few days). So I’ve found myself posting to my mostly-until-recently stagnant Instagram account. If you’re on Instagram (or even if you’re not), feel free to follow along! 

You might also be wondering what’s up with the “GW Pens” logo there. You probably already recognize the GW as the logo I’ve been using for Greco Woodcrafting. Since pens are primarily all that I make, it sort of seemed natural to add that to the logo. Everything is still the same, but maybe less people will ask if I make cabinets now when they see my logo ;)

As far as that big news goes, be sure to check my blog or sign up for email notification (top right corner). I’m very excited and can’t wait to share!

Greco Woodcrafting (GW Pens) on Instagram!

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New Bessey Clamp Review

The new Bessey STC-HH70 auto-adjusting clamp.

The new Bessey STC-HH70 auto-adjusting clamp.

I was recently in touch with Bessey Tools North America. They were offering some clamps for me to try out and asked if I would write a review of exactly what my thoughts were- good, bad, or ugly.

The clamps are a new style of toggle clamp that allows for a range of auto-adjust clamping. I was curious how they would work, because others that I’ve tried required me to change the height of the clamp whenever my material dimensions changed. And being that I work with a wide range of thicknesses, I have never had luck with other toggle clamps.

My first impression of the clamps is that they were bigger than I expected. The particular one I tested recently, the STC-HH70 (pictured), is listed as having up to 550 lbs of nominal clamping force and 700 lbs of holding capacity, so I guess they would need to have some heft to them with a length of about 8 ¼”. There were 2 styles of clamps I was going to try: one that has the clamp come down onto the work piece from above, and one that pushes forward against the work piece.  I had intended on starting with the one that pushes forward, but it was just too long to fit into my crosscut sled. I was, however, happy to find the other clamp was a perfect fit.

Bessey auto adjust clamp holding down a pen blank on the table saw crosscut sled.

Bessey auto adjust clamp holding down a pen blank on the table saw crosscut sled.

There are a few adjustments you can make to the clamp. The most obvious is probably the height adjustment, the threaded part with the shoe that comes into contact with the work. But that also slides forward and backward, which is really quite convenient when working on multiple pieces of different widths. The last adjustment is near the base of the handle. It is a small screw that lets you adjust the clamping pressure. Some pieces require a more delicate touch, giving just enough pressure to hold it in place, and this really helps find that balance of good strength, but not crushing strength. This is especially important for me when working with softer wood.

My first try was on a piece of Red Mallee Burl, which was going to be used for a high end fountain pen. Because of the size of the finished pen, the holes that need to be drilled are rather large (37/64”), and any wandering of the drill bit can make one side too thin to be turned into the finished pen. I used the clamp to cut a perfect 90 degree angle, which will later stop my drill bit from trying to wander. The wood clamped in easily and was held rock-solid.

The Bessey clamp holding the now-cut pen blank in place.

The Bessey clamp holding the now-cut pen blank in place.

My second attempt was a piece I really wasn’t going to try at first. It just seemed kind of risky and I figured I might be better off cutting it on the bandsaw like I usually do. It is a 1 ½” acrylic cylinder, and after giving it some more consideration, I figured it would be a great test.

Bessey clamp holding down a cylindrical piece of acrylic.

Bessey clamp holding down a cylindrical piece of acrylic.

Close-up of the Bessey clamp securing the work.

Close-up of the Bessey clamp securing the work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see in the picture, the part of the clamp that comes into contact with the cylinder is able to pivot. That, coupled with the automatically adjusting clamping height, allowed me to literally swap out the Red Mallee for this without any adjustments to the clamp. The Red Mallee was 1” thick and square, this is 1 ½” thick and round. Before I fired up the table saw I gave the acrylic some really good tugs and pushes to see if I could get it to pop loose. When I saw it wasn’t budging, I went ahead and made the cut.

 

The acrylic stayed in place perfectly throughout the cut!
The acrylic stayed in place perfectly throughout the cut!

Part of me was surprised with the cut. There was no wobble, there was nothing that made me think, “Oh man, this was a bad idea.” Another part of me wasn’t surprised at all. Bessey has been making clamps since 1936, so it’s not far fetched to think they know what they’re doing. Ultimately I couldn’t be happier with the clamp I was able to test. I hope to get some other jigs made in my shop in the near future to utilize the other style, as well.

Oh, and that Red Mallee Burl pen I was working on? I’d say it turned out pretty nice, I hope you think so, too :)

Red Mallee Burl Fountain Pen by Greco Woodcrafting.

Red Mallee Burl Fountain Pen by Greco Woodcrafting.

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Anatomy of a Fountain Pen

Handcrafted Fountain Pen by Greco Woodcrafting

Handcrafted Fountain Pen by Greco Woodcrafting

 

Have you ever wondered about fountain pens? Wondered how they work and just what the heck it looks like on the Inside? Well sit back, because I am about to pull the curtain back on this (not so) mysterious ink pen.

Chances are if you are reading this, you probably never used a fountain pen. Maybe you’re interested in giving it a try. Maybe you’re just a curious individual and like to learn how things work. Whatever the case, you’re here and I’m here, so let’s get started!

 

Internal pieces of a fountain pen.

Internal pieces of a fountain pen.

 

A – This is the Converter. It is a reservoir that stores the ink and they come in several types and sizes. When this is an assembled unit, you lower the Nib (D) into the ink bottle and twist the rear of the Converter. This makes the piston inside retract, drawing the ink into the cavity.  There are also squeeze bulb versions, ones that use levers, as well as longer and shorter versions. Additionally, this piece can be replaced with a similar sized disposable ink cartridge. It sort of looks like an odd plastic bullet with ink it in. These fit onto the bottom nipple of the Feed Housing (B), which in the case of the disposable cartridge, breaks the seal and allows the ink to flow.

B – The Feed housing. As the name suggests, it houses the Feed (C). The nipple at the bottom is what the Converter or disposable ink cartridge attaches to. It has a small hole allowing ink to pass through.

C – The Feed. It slides into the Feed Housing until it is fully seated inside with its nipple ‘plugging’ the hole in the feed housing. So how does the ink pass through? The nipple on the Feed is shaped more like the letter ‘C’ with the open part on top, creating a small channel. If you look closely, you can see a solid black stripe running down the center from the bottom to the top of the Feed. This is like a spine with small flexible wings extending off of it. The ink moves through and fills this space through capillary action.

D – The Nib. The Nib sits directly on top of the feed and partway inside of the Feed Housing. As the feed fills with ink, it is transferred to the underside of the nib. The line going through the tip of the nib is a slice. When pressure is applied, the 2 parts, known as Tines, separate slightly and the ink is drawn from the Feed. Different nibs have different ‘feels’ on how the Tines open. Some are more firm, others are more flexible. Most seasoned fountain pen users have experimented with many nib types and brands before finding one they have as a favorite.

 

The internal fountain pen pieces assembled.

The internal fountain pen pieces assembled.

 

Once assembled, this is what all of the pieces look like. The Feed Housing screws into the nib holder, or the lower most part of the pen where you hold it as you write. And believe it or not, that’s all there is to it! Ready to give one a try? Head over to the Fountain Pen section of my shop to see what I have in stock, or feel free to Contact Me to discuss a custom order (or even just to answer any questions you might have). Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to Follow me on Facebook!

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Upgraded Ink!

Handcrafted Cross style His & Hers twist ballpoint pens.

Handcrafted Cross style His & Hers twist ballpoint pens.

The finer details are sometimes overlooked.  When people use a disposable pen, they often don’t think about ‘how’ it writes, just as long as it gets the job done. But for handcrafted pens, where every detail is given strict attention through every step of the process, the ink is just as important. That is why I am proud to announce that Greco Woodcrafting is now including upgraded ink cartridges without increasing the price of our pens.

All Parker style ballpoint refill pens are now shipping with top of the line Schmidt Easyflow 9000 cartridges, an ink that flows so smooth you’ll instantly love it. The pens that accept Cross style ballpoint refills are shipping with Private Reserve ink. Private Reserve also makes an exceptionally smooth flowing ink that makes even the less expensive pens I make write like a dream. Also, fountain pens are also coming with 1 cartridge of “Velvet Black” Private Reserve ink (unless they come with a bottle of J. Herbin).

Last, but certainly not least, are the rollerball pens. These have also all been upgraded to Schmidt ink cartridges and are offered in your choice of Fine or Medium tip.

Of course there is still a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for the life of your pen. Did you buy a pen from me in the past before the ink was upgraded? Let me know and I will ship you a new ink cartridge free of charge (if it was a gift, please tell me who gave it to you so I can more easily check my records).

Thank you and Happy Writing!

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New Item – Leather Journals!

Handcrafted Leather Journal (Style 1) being offered by Greco Woodcrafting.

Handcrafted Leather Journal (Style 1) being offered by Greco Woodcrafting.

You may recall a few months ago I started to offer handcrafted pen boxes. That was part of a bigger vision that I have for Greco Woodcrafting. As a pen collector myself, I understand shoppers typically aren’t looking for “just” a pen. This is especially true for people buying handcrafted pens.

When you buy something handmade, there is a connection that goes beyond the buyer and the item bought. It’s a connection to the artist, knowing that somebody took the time to make sure that very item you bought was done right, not just spot checking a random sample from a 10,000 piece run in a factory. And when it comes to handcrafted pens, people aren’t looking for just the pen itself…they are often times interested in getting additional accessories for it. So why shouldn’t those items be handcrafted, as well?

That is why I am proud to announce the newest items being offered on my site: Handcrafted leather journals.

I’ve been looking to do this for some time now and was happy to find the right person to partner with. Handcrafted in Nebraska, these journals combine the key elements I felt were necessary for journals that I would offer: They are handcrafted in the US, feature leather covers, contain acid free parchment paper, and are professionally bound.

Additionally, I am able to list these beautiful works of functional art at a reasonable price. Though they will regularly retail on my site for $30 each, they are being offered at an introductory price of just $25 for 1 week. They were listed yesterday, so as of Wednesday the 26th of June, 2013 they will be listed at their regular price of $30 each.

Currently we have two styles available: A slightly rustic looking short strap closure version, and a richer, higher sheen version with a winding strap closure. Additional styles will be added in the future.

Do you have a suggestion for a handcrafted pen-related item? Let me know either in the comments below or feel free to contact me directly.

Handcrafted Leather Journal (Style 2) being offered by Greco Woodcrafting.

Handcrafted Leather Journal (Style 2) being offered by Greco Woodcrafting.

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Commissioned, Pen for President of the United States

Handcrafted fountain pen by John Greco for President Obama

Handcrafted fountain pen by John Greco for President Obama

 

After being commissioned to make a matching pen set for Prince Harry and Governor Christie to commemorate their trip to Seaside Heights, NJ, I was next asked to make a pen for President Obama. Regardless of your political views, being commissioned to make a pen for the President of the United States of America is a Tremendous honor.

The pen, made from a piece of Seaside Heights Boardwalk wood, was requested by  the Historic Pen Company and made for presentation on behalf of the Mayor of Seaside Heights. The wood was given a special stabilizing treatment during which all of the air from the wood was removed and replaced with a heat-set resin. This process not only allowed for the dry boardwalk wood to be turned smoothly on the lathe, it also helps reduce seasonal wood movement allowing this to be an heirloom quality pen.

The pen itself commemorates the President coming to the Jersey Shore on May 28, 2013 with Governor Christie to get a first-hand look of the rebuilding progress since Sandy.

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Commissioned to make pens for Prince Harry and Governor Christie

Like I’ve said in a previous entry, I am the Master Pen Maker for the Historic Pen Company (HPC). I still run and operate Greco Woodcrafting, but I am also the one behind most of the pens you see offered by HPC. They acquire many different pieces of unique, historic “witness wood” that I treat and turn into pens for them to sell (a portion of which is given back to the community the wood is from). As a history buff and pen lover, I have been very fortunate to have this kind of partnering between our two companies.

Although the wood HPC acquires is historic, they recently asked me to make something to commemorate a soon-to-be historic event. Prince Harry was going to visit Sandy ravaged Seaside Heights, NJ with NJ Governor Chris Christie. The Mayor of the town spoke with the Historic Pen Company to see if we could make something special to be given to them, and that is exactly what we did.

With wood that had originally been part of the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, I made a matching pen set for the Prince and the Governor. Was I excited? Was it a nailbiter? Yes and Yes! If you’ve read my ‘How long DOES it take?‘ segment talking a bit about my acrylic pen making process, you know none of my pens are quick-hits. Add to this fact that before I begin actually making the pen I first give it a special heat set resin treatment and you are really looking at several days start to finish. And with the Prince arriving in a few days, that was about all the time I had. In short, these pens had to be perfect with no time for a do-over.

So….I’m sure you’re wondering if I was able to get them done in time. Of course! I mean really, when is the next time I’ll have the chance to make a pen for royalty?? So without further delay, here are some pictures of the pens on a piece of Seaside Boardwalk wood. You can check below the pictures for a link to an article about this that was on USA Today’s online edition.

Pens by Master Pen maker John Greco of Greco Woodcrafting, commissioned to make pens for Prince Harry and Governor Christie.

Pens by Master Pen Maker John Greco of Greco Woodcrafting, commissioned to make pens for Prince Harry and Governor Christie.

Pen for Prince Harry crafted by John Greco of Greco Woodcrafting.

Pen for Prince Harry crafted by John Greco of Greco Woodcrafting.

Pen for Governor Christie made by John Greco of Greco Woodcrafting.

Pen for Governor Christie made by John Greco of Greco Woodcrafting.

Here is the link to the article from USA Today.

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Handcrafted Pen Boxes on Sale

Yes, it’s been far too long since I have posted to my blog. But today is a good day to start again. Why?

Handcrafted. Pen boxes. Sale.

Need I say more? OK, I will!

I recently stopped ‘including’ pen boxes with my higher end pens. I have come to learn a few things about customers wants and taste in boxes, most notably that it all varies wildly. Some really have no interest in a wooden pen box, so why increase the price of my pen to reflect the box it comes with? Others want a pen box, but not necessarily the one I have paired with that particular pen. So with that in mind I started to allow shoppers to buy pen boxes as a stand alone item.

But that’s not all.

The pen boxes I was offering were all manufactured by a pen supply house. That is to say, Not handcrafted, like my pens. And doesn’t somebody buying a handcrafted pen deserve the option of a handcrafted box? I thought so, too! So I searched high and low for a US based box maker who could make these boxes without breaking the bank.

A handcrafted Black Walnut pen box made by our box maker in the USA.

A handcrafted Black Walnut pen box made by our box maker in the USA.

 

As you can see from the picture above, I found just the right source! I supplied a diagram of how the box should be designed (apparently my engineering drawing classes are still paying off) and this is the result. A beautifully crafted pen box with an inlay of highly figured Black Walnut. The lid is on hinges, and lifts to reveal a black suede lined interior able to fit one pen (I do offer a double pen version, as well).

The hinged lid lifts to reveal the black suede interior.

The hinged lid lifts to reveal the black suede interior.

 

Though difficult to see in the picture, the lower half has a special recess running the length to gently cradle the pen.

So, back to the Sale! This week, the introductory price on these will expire. The single pen box currently listed for $50 will increase to $65, and the double pen box listed for $75 will increase to its regular price of $90. You have until the end of the day Saturday, March 9th to take advantage of these great prices. You can find these and all of the pen boxes I have available through my website. Everything you see there is ready to ship anywhere in the world – the pictures of the Walnut boxes are the Actual box you will receive.

Do you need a custom deigned pen box? Let me know and we can get you exactly what you are looking for!

 

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Bock Nibs? Check.

Greco Woodcrafting fountain pens now all feature genuine German made Bock nibs.

 

I am proud to say that all Greco Woodcrafting fountain pens will now come with a Bock nib included! Our latest fountain pen is pictured here with a fine point genuine German made Bock nib. Bock is known worldwide for their fountain pen nib quality and is the perfect match for the heirloom quality pens we offer. Also included with this handcrafted fountain pen is a 30ml bottle of J. Herbin ink. Custom orders are always welcome!

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