This all started with being obsessed with the pens that came from Kickstarter, specifically the bolt-action pens. While I was too late to the funding parties, I looked into purchasing the pens from their websites, but I couldn't justify the price.
I have access the shop at work before and after hours, why not make my own? So I designed a pen that would be super simple to make and would use ink and springs from pens in the office supply cabinet. Once I made one for myself, everyone wanted one. I showed my wife the pen and she convinced me to make a few more and sell them on Etsy. I never thought they would sell. I didn't know where to start! My pictures are taken with my cellphone on a mousepad or bamboo cutting board and edited with picasa. I thought I was in over my head.
But sell they did! I added new finishes like sand blasted, brushed, and acid etched. I even went as far as making a powdercoating booth in my garage. I have different grip styles like thin lines, thick lines, and even a knurled grip. (I made the knurling tool myself). I had so many requests for a clip design that I came up with that using an off the shelf clip. On top of offering all of these options, they are able to be combined into a customized pen, unique to what the customer wants.
I had so many requests on and off Etsy, I bought a lathe at home to keep up. It hasn't been enough though as I still need to use equipment at work to make the finishing touches. Being at work at 6:30am taking it's toll. I only have 30 minutes to setup the machine, make my cuts, break down the setup, clean my mess, clean myself, and get to my desk. Also, making my own money with my employers equipment is a straight-shot to the unemployment line, not including insurance issues if I hurt myself pre-work hours.
This is where YOU come in. I need the right equipment and tooling in my home shop to be able to keep making these pens at a cost everyone can enjoy. I cannot MAKE enough pens to sell to come up with the capital for the home shop upgrades, I can't keep using my employer's resources for my own gain. I'm not looking to pocket any money from this campaign, all funds will go to equipment and materials. I just want to keep my Etsy shop open. It can't be done without you.
Pen features and options
Each pen is made from an easily machinable aluminum alloy and is about 5.25" long, 7/16" in diameter, and weighs in at just under an ounce.
There are 2 designs for the pens, Without a clip and with a clip. The pen without the clip is VERY basic and tight tolerancing is not needed. It is the cheapest option. The pen with the clip is a little more complicated. To hold the clip in place, a custom thumbscrew is made and the pens separate towards the middle.The clip is purchased and finished myself by powdercoating.
The finishes that have been the most popular are brushed, acid etched, or powdercoated. At the moment I have only been using matte black, but will be experimenting with new colors soon.
The grip options that are currently available are blank, thin lines, wide lines, and diamond knurled. I have straight knurl tooling but have not made any pens with this style yet.
Each pen can be created ala carte for a custom pen that is unique for every individual.
New pledge tier with reward:
Newly finished pen: Acid Etched, Knurled, with Clip:
Risks and challenges
Risks - The major risk will be lead time. I already make these. In fact, I will be blanking out the pen bodies for the early-birds during the funding period. I have the machining process down to a science but with any new equipment, there can be unexpected downtime. My designs are solid and I already make the product in house. I will only re-open the Etsy shop once all backers have been fulfilled.
Challenges - Getting the new milling machine in house and setup with all necessary tooling can take time. It's nothing I haven't dealt with before, but things can come up that can be out of my control.
With any and all setbacks, I will provide a level of transparency. If i put my money on something that wasn't delivered on time, i'd like to know too.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)