Hand Made Wooden Pens by Rodney Neep




A difficult pen to make in a difficult wood. Actually this isn't "wood" at all, it is Black Palm, which is really a species of grass! The trunk of a palm tree is made up of fine fibres laid tightly against each other. The "grass" stems are compacted and lightly bonded together to form a solid. The problem with working this stuff however, is that the firbres have a tendency to split off and break. That's the challenge.

The Beechenhurst Senior Desk Pen is much larger than the standard Beechenhurst. In true desk pen style, it has a non-posting cap. This particular Beechenhurst Senior Fountain Pen is a very special one with rhodium plating.

Above, a piece of Black Palm (identical to the piece from which the pen was made), and the finished pen.

The Beechenhurst pen comes with a German made medium nib with a long lasting iridium point. A fine nib is available as an alternative on request.

We start with the piece of wood, and the two brass tubes, one for the main body of the pen (left) and the other for the cap.

Each piece of palm is impregnated with thin viscosity CA glue, which soaks into the pores. Then the pieces of palm are drilled out to take the brass tubes. With this material there is a very great danger of it splitting, and therefore a small 7mm drill was used first, then a 10mm drill.... and the hole flooded with the thin CA glue again..... then the final drilling to the tube size.... flooded with CA glue again, and then finally drilled out to the final size again. This ensures that the palm fibres on the inside of the hole are well stabilised. I want them to be really solid before the lathe turning begins!

Drilling the palm, held by the special chuck in the lathe.

Thin CA glue used to soak into the pores and fibres of the palm.

The cap piece ends up with not a lot of palm left after drilling to take the brass tube! I had to go very carefully indeed with the drilling. Frankly... I was worried! I feared that it was not going to be possible.

Above.... the brass tubes have been roughened up, and now they are ready to be glued into the holes in the palm.

A thick viscosity CA adhesive is used to glue the tubes into the holes in the palm. I then leave the pieces for several hours before the next stage

Above, the ends of the palm are faced on the lathe, flush with the ends of the brass tube.

Now we can mount them onto the special pen making mandrel, with steel bushes that fit inside the tubes. The outside diameter of the steel bushes are the final dimensions we are aiming for after turning. Knowing that I am going to be using more thin CA glue in the turning process, I make sure that the ends of the wood and the steel bushes are coated with a little wax first. I don't want the bushes to glue to the wood!

Above, partly turned down on the lathe.... and here I pause to add some more thin CA glue to the fibres to help hold them in place!

Almost there.... and now some sanding completed.

Above: at this stage I have added some "sealer" to the sanded palm.... this is a mixture of boiled linseed oil and medium viscosity CA glue, applied in two thin coats.

A final sanding is then done, with 120 grit, 240, 320, 500, 800 and finally 1200 grit sandpaper.

After that I apply two coats of a special liquid mixture of carnauba wax and shellac at high speed on the lathe. That cures the wax and shellac with the heat generated, and gives a lovely semi gloss patina.

Above: The end cap and nib coupler have been pressed into the inside of the brass body tube, and we are ready to press in the cap finial and clip and the nib protector and cap thread. Note that the long black tubular piece is made of a soft plastic which fits inside the brass tube inside the wood. That prevents damage to the pen nib when the cap is fitted.

The finished fountain pen.

Each of my creations (pens, shaving brushes, etc) is individually numbered sequentially. This one happens to be the 1,398th piece I have made to date. It has been many years!

Copyright 2013 Rodney Neep All Rights Reserved