The Holidays are upon us and I think many wood workers are looking for things to make as gifts. One thing I like to make and which can be done quickly and easily is a wooden pen.
My favorite this year is the “bolt action” pen. As you might infer from the name, the point is extended by a small sliding rifle type bolt near the clip of the pen. The bolt handle locks the pen point in place while you write and then snaps back to hide the point. It is remarkable in its action and appearance.
Wooden pen blanks are easily available for a few dollars for a five inch piece, enough for two pens, or you can use any scraps lying around the shop. Pen kits can be had for under ten bucks and with a few specialized tools, making a pen is quick and easy. If I focus on what I am doing I can make a pen in about 30 minutes, start to finish.
Pens make a nice gift. You can add a wooden case for a few dollars, and for the bolt action pen, there is even a small gun case available. Typically, wooden pens sell for upwards of $30 and I have a friend who bought a bolt action for a Christmas present last year and paid over $50 for it.
You are going to need a lathe of course, and a couple of other special tools, but not too many things. Pens are quick and easy and make nice gifts. Give them a try.
Want more information on pen turning? Check out this penturning article and a video on how to turn a pen.
Terry Chapman is a Professional Engineer (Civil) and Land Surveyor who lives south of Atlanta. He has done woodworking for many years and particularly enjoys bowl turning and making Windsor Chairs. He currently works as Site Development Manager for a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and has one son who pastors a Church in Connecticut. You can email him at email@example.com.