Fine Pens From Rare Woods
I've always believed that the pen truly is mightier than the sword. I know that the phrase is a bit of a cliche now, but there is far more truth in that statement than what most people give it credit for. With the stroke of a pen wars can both begin and end, poverty can be eliminated or exacerbated, and our environment can be either preserved or destroyed. Any problem that humanity faces, large or small, can be affected by the stroke of a single pen. With all of that in mind, I have a deep respect for the power of the pen.
As a result of this respect, I naturally gravitated towards the process of creating pens. That led to the creation of this Kickstarter project. My goal here is to craft the most superior pen that I can, knowing that it can, and often will, be utilized as the most powerful tool available to humankind.
In order to craft a superior pen, I want to use superior materials. As such, I have carefully selected a handful of woods to make available for these pens. Each one of these is both rare and special for some reason or another, though all have been responsibly harvested.
The Elegant American
The 30 Caliber Bolt Action
Types of Wood
When freshly cut, African Padauk is an incredibly bright orange-red color. Over time, that color darkens to a bright red, eventually becoming red with a brownish tint to it. Throughout the entire process, regardless of its color stage, African Padauk will make for an absolutely stunning pen. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Continental pen.
Ancient Bog Oak
Ancient Bog Oak is an incredibly rare and impressively old wood. The tree itself grew in the Fens of England, and was preserved under the surface of a peat bog. Radiocarbon dating places the age of this wood at somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 years old. The wood is in the earliest stages of fossilization, and is darkly colored as a result of tannins in the acidic water in which it was preserved. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Triton pen.
The Ancient Kauri that will be used is from the oldest known workable wood on planet Earth. The tree itself, like many others of its kind, grew anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 years old, and when it finally succumbed to forces unknown, was preserved under the surface of a peat bog. Radiocarbon dating places the age of this wood at somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 years old, but that is actually just the maximum range of the radiocarbon dating process. It should be assumed that the wood is actually much older than that. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Sierra pen.
Atlantic City Boardwalk
First opened on June 26, 1870, the Atlantic City Boardwalk has long been a classic destination for American travelers. Over the course of history, it has been a staple of the entertainment, fashion, music, gambling, and shopping industries, amongst others. In October of 2012, Superstorm Sandy, the second costliest hurricane to hit the United States of all time, destroyed part of the famed Boardwalk. This wood has been preserved, and is available to be crafted into a fine pen. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Baron pen.
Cocobolo is an incredibly rare wood that is highly prized for its stunning color and grain patterns. This wood can be found in a vast array of colors including yellow, orange, red, and brown with either purple or black streaks. Regardless of the color, Cocobolo is always lighter when freshly cut and darkens with age. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Slimline pen.
Native to western Africa, Gaboon Ebony is one of the blackest woods in existence, and one of the few that are dense enough to sink in water. Ironically, when polished up it is so solidly black that it looks like plastic. Aside from its color, it is highly prized for its rarity and durability. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Continental pen.
Kingwood is a true member of the Rosewood family, being the densest of them all. Large pieces of this wood are rare, given the small size of the tree itself. It is usually found in either dark purplish-brown or reddish-brown. Either color typically has darker black streaks running through it. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the 30 Caliber Bolt Action pen.
Nazareth Olivewood is simply Olivewood that is grown in Nazareth. These trees, living an incredibly long life, have been bearing fruit since a time that pre-dates Jesus, and are referenced many times throughout the Bible. The wood that this pen was crafted from did not result in the death of any tree. Instead, the wood comes from the prunings of trees that will likely continue to bear fruit for many years to come. As such, there is a very limited supply of available wood from these trees. To see what this looks like, check out the picture of the Cigar pen.
Pink Ivory is an incredibly rare wood, naturally found only in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa. Legend has it that anyone outside of the royal Zulu family was put to death if found to be in possession of this wood. Pink Ivory is usually found in a bright pink state, and brightens over time with exposure to light. To see what this looks like, check out the pictures of the Elegant American and Virage pens.
How The Pens Are Made
Every pen is meticulously handcrafted. Each pen starts out as a block of wood or acrylic material, which is called a pen blank, and a handful of hardware components. The inside of the pen is lined with a brass tube that allows for a strong structure and smooth functionality. To begin the process, a precisely sized hole must be carefully drilled through the end grain of the pen blank. If it is drilled too quickly, then the stress on the blank could cause it to break. If it is not drilled quickly enough, then the heat buildup in the blank could also cause it to break. Once the hole is drilled, then the tube must be glued to the inside of the hole. This is done with incredibly strong and reliable Cyanoacrylate glue (CA glue) and an accelerator that speeds up the drying process to a few seconds. The tube must be accurately placed into the hole in the few seconds before the glue solidifies. The ends of the blank must then be trimmed to match the exact size of the tube. Once the blank has been prepared and the tube inserted, it is then ready to turn on the lathe. (Side note: "turn" is the verb used in woodworking that means to rotate a piece of wood while using a cutting tool, such as a chisel, to shape the wood into the desired, usually circular, form. "Turn on the lathe," therefore, does not mean to press the power switch on the lathe. It means to shape the wood into a circular form on the lathe.) At this point, the appropriate bushings are placed on either side of the blank to ensure that the ends of the pen will seamlessly match the selected hardware. While the lathe spins the blank, I use a set of chisels to carefully shape, by hand, the body of the pen to whatever I want the shape of that particular pen to be. Once shaped, the blank is then sanded using 220 grit and 400 grit sandpaper, followed by a set of 9 MicroMesh pads that sand and polish it all the way to 12,000 grit, giving the blank a super-smooth surface. Then, depending on the type of material used, several coats of either clear lacquer or thin CA glue are applied as a finish. Both finishes are highly effective and incredibly attractive while providing durability that lasts. After the finish has been applied, the blank is removed from the lathe, aligned in such a way as to optimize attractiveness (to obtain a continuous grain pattern of the wood, etc.) and assembled with the hardware. The assembled pen is then observed and analyzed to ensure that it meets all quality standards. If so, the pen is then complete, and ready to be used!
Risks and challenges
There are two foreseeable challenges that this project may face, neither of which will prevent the completion of the project.
The first involves the numbers of pledges that this project receives. I have set the delivery date for all pens to November of this year. If I receive far more pledges than I anticipated, then I will need to bump that back to December. If this problem arises and you absolutely need your pen earlier, just let me know. I'll see what I can do!
The second of the risks involves the materials used for this project. Given that I have chosen to use a carefully selected list of rare woods, there is a risk that a particular wood may not be available at that particular time. Usually, all of these woods are available. If however, the wood that you have selected is not available, I will let you know and give you the option to either select a different wood or wait until the wood that you originally selected becomes available again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The answer varies depending upon the type of pen.
For Ballpoint: All ballpoint pens take a standard Parker style refill, with the exception of the Slimline pens - those take a standard Cross style refill. Either style is available just about anywhere in just about any type and color. Popular types are gel inks and fine point tips.
For Rollerball: All rollerball pens take a standard Schmidt style refill, which can be found just about anywhere, again, in various types and colors.
For Fountain: All fountain pens come with an ink converter that allows you to use any bottled ink, as well as a disposable ink cartridge that allows you to instantly begin using your pen. Either bottled ink or disposable ink cartridges are available anywhere that sells fountain pen materials.
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