Addicted to Pens

At the Melbourne Wood Show I bought a couple of specialised pen blanks from Addictive Pens: an electronic one (with a circuit board) and a prairie rattlesnake skin. Both were encased in transparent acrylic, ready for turning and after a day of feeling under the weather yesterday, I finally felt up to achieving something around 10pm last night.

I started with a more traditional turning – acrylic is notoriously fussy, and as I don’t turn that often I need to practice a little to get the feel. I did one pen using an unusual timber – avocado, from Lazy Larry. It went really well (and looked rather good, including the CA finish) until I had a brain lapse during assembly. Oh well – at least I had the practice!

Next, I turned up a couple of purple heart sierras, before deciding to tackle the acrylic ones.

Acrylic can be rather tempermental, prone to chipping if approached too aggressively, and can easily overheat, again damaging the surface.

Example of acrylic blanks

On the other hand, acrylics can produce some pretty spectacular pens, especially with items embedded in it, as with the two I worked on here.

When approached with a bit of finess, you can get ribbons of acrylic peeling off the blank. Even so, I stopped each pass to clear it away- when thin it would be easy to cause them to melt and attempt to weld back to the blank. Also, they are rather hard to see the work through!

Pen Stand

This is the acrylic pen stand I picked up at the Melb Wood Show, getting loaded up with a reasonable collection.

From left to right, there is a slimline pencil and pen, both in Osage Orange, an Elegant Beauty (EB) with an unknown timber, then a Sierra Camphor, a couple of Sierra purplehearts, and the acrylics.

New Pens

Closeup of Circuitboard Pen

I really like the circuit board, but I guess it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Same with the snakeskin (which I think makes this pen illegal in NZ)

6 Responses

  1. Some folks may be interested to see some acrylic turning in action in a job shop environment. Pens, however, are not something we do because they are more of an artistic craft item. We aim to work in the medical industry on larger quantity orders. At any rate, here is a link to our site showing an Acrylic turning video. Feel free to poke around if anyone is interested it plastic machining.

  2. Does anyone offer fountain pen kits? I really like fountain pens and would look into this if I could make my own…..

    • There are kits for pretty much every pen type under the sun, and that includes fountain pens. Some are quite cheap, others where expensive materials (gold etc) are used can cost upwards of $100 or more, and everything in between.

      Pen making is enjoyable, and can be quite a good cottage industry money earner. Just make sure you charge a reasonable price – often people undercharge for handmade pens, and really as much as I can make a slimline pen for around $7 or so, that is just the cost of the raw material, and doesn’t take into account time, equipment etc.

      I’d sell a wood Sierra for around $60+ (if I went out trying to sell pens), the snakeskin and circuit board ones, I’d be looking for quite a bit more. But I don’t sell pens (at this stage) – I give them as gifts, and more often than not, use them myself!

  3. I just looked at the Addictive Pens website and could not find the circuit board pen blank. Did you purchase it from them or another supplier.

    • I haven’t been able to find it on their site either – I bought it at the Melbourne Wood show from them, so it might be one they don’t offer online – but contact them directly – they should be able to get one for you (I’m going to get some more as well I think – it looks too cool!)

  4. Very nice pens! I too have a similar site like yours!

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