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Minnesota Crafts: Wood Turned Pens

Updated on August 19, 2017

The Knot Is Beautiful


It Makes A Beautiful Pen

The first time I ever did work on a wood lathe was in the mid-seventies. Girls were allowed to take shop classes at the high school I was attending. My father had wood working tools at home and I had grown up watching him wood work.

My sister's friend makes pens out of different types of wood. He gets wood that is pretty colored and lets it dry for a couple of years. The wood is turned until the desired shape for a pen is obtained.

The imperfections in the wood allow for the designs to be one of a kind. Not all pen blanks are made of 100 percent wood. Some enterprising pen makers have learned to combine wood with acrylic resin.

If the wood is cracked and seeminly worthless, the wood is set into a mold and acrylic resin is poured around it. The acrylic hardens around the wood and then the combination piece is then mounted on the woodlathe and is turned by cutting off the outside of the acrylic resin.

Many broken wood pieces are salvaged this way. If you google Worthless Wood Blanks, you will find an interesting PDF on how to use the acrylic resin. Check it out if you are interested in this method. Wood is not the only thing used in the acrylic resin. The latest object I notice seems to be rattlesnakes in resin, and I know someone who uses the horns from bulls and also the wood from deer antlers.

Wood Lathed With A Knot


Wood Lathed From Maple Burl


Up Close


How Someone Else Does It

How About You?

Do you make your own pens?

See results

This Person Sells Pens

Jeffrey Girgen

Custom Made Wood Pens

Handcrafted in Minnesota

Ph: 650-270-4713

Perfect for Christmas gifts!

Picture Ths

I have not used a wood lathe since Industrial Education classes in the 1970s, but I recall turning bowls on a wood lathe.

I have a smaller wood lathe and a larger wood lathe at the current time. Getting the wood centered is very important. The wood spins toward you and you use sharp metal chisels to slice or plane the wood to the shape that you want.

It is time consuming and you must be careful not to press too hard and split your wood, but you will be rewarded for your efforts when you are satisfied with the shape of your pen, sand the pen smooth and then coat the pen with something that makes it shiny. Polyeurethane is a good choice for preserving the pen. A clear coating so that you can enjoy the wood grain of your creation.


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