As a pen maker, easily the most common question I’m asked is how long it takes me to make a pen. And that’s really a hard question to answer for a few reasons. Is the body of the pen one piece or two? Is it made from wood or acrylic, or maybe even stone? Did the pieces need any sort of pre-treatment? For instance, pens I’m making with wood from St. Peter’s have, technically, taken 7 months if you include the time I first got the wood from the arborist and cut it up to begin the drying process.
Then there are pens that I make in batches. This is my preferred method and the way I typically make pens. Each phase of the process is bulked together so there is as little time wasted going back and forth as possible. Without getting into too much (boring) detail on what I mean, here’s a picture showing 1 part of the process.
Each pen has a brass tube that goes inside of the pen body. The body is cut slightly longer than the tube, then a hole is drilled and the tube is glued in place (that’s the quick version, there is really more to it than that). But if I’m making a batch of pens, cutting each pen body section to the correct length would be a tedious, time consuming process. So instead I set up my miter saw to make repetitive cuts and do 3 at once.
The boards clamped to the back are just far enough apart to let the saw blade pass through (also known as zero clearance). This helps make sure the backside of the blanks don’t blow out, or chip apart. Since these 3 pen blanks are all for the same style of pen, I was able to cut all 3 at once. This particular batch has 7 of this style being made so with one cut I was nearly halfway finished.
Some of the more astute readers out there might notice this is a sliding miter saw. I will be working on a special platform that can accommodate more than 3 blanks at once soon. For acrylic, I don’t like to stack them (too slippery) and 3 or 4 was about as many as I could line up here safely before approaching the edge of the bed.
So, how long Does it take me to make a pen? Well, actually cutting these 3 blanks took about 4 seconds. But these pens are Far from finished……….
(Follow along onto Part 2 of 3)