A peek at what we make
A few months ago I partnered with the folks at the Historic Pen Company to be their lead pen artisan. Of course there is the benefit of additional sales for me, but more than that is the kind of pens I’ve been able to make for them. I don’t expect to get rich making pens, it’s more about making decent money for something I love to do. And as a history buff, some of the wood I’ve gotten from them has been absolutely fascinating!
This fountain pen, for instance, is made from wood that is 270 years old. Of course you don’t just take wood that old and make it into a pen…it was in pretty bad shape. Any other piece of wood in this condition would have been thrown out. It was soft, rotting, and even the outer layer was just flaking off if you blew on it. I had to carefully cut the wood and stabilize it so it was suitable for pen turning. Otherwise something as simple as drilling a hole would have the wood crumble apart from the inside out.
I use a special heat cured resin to stabilize wood. The idea behind it is pretty simple. Completely submerge the wood in the resin and out it in a vacuum chamber. Remove all of the air, including the air from the wood itself (picture drinking straws under water being squeezed tight), then release the vacuum. Because the wood is submerged in the resin, as air goes back into the chamber the places in the wood that had air will now have resin (picture releasing the straws under water now). From there the wood goes into a toaster oven for an hour to let it cure.
The result is nothing short of amazing. The very outer layer of wood is not salvageable, but we are talking maybe between 1/64 to 1/32 of an inch. The rest of the 1″ thick piece of wood was rock solid! From here it is treated like any other hard piece of wood and turned into a pen. This particular piece was not only old wood, but came from a site believed by some historians to witness the final battle of the American Revolution.
Wood this special deserves equally special hardware. The finished piece has rhodium and 24k gold plating through with a genuine Swarovski crystal on the clip. The nib is solid 18k gold, the only choice for many fountain pen enthusiasts. Although the wood came from a tavern built 270 years ago, this pen is ready to live on as an heirloom passed from generation to generation.