• Daniel Ouimet

The Art of Penmaking-Step 3

Ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, mechanical pencils, and fountain pens have mechanisms designed to work inside some type of housing. Most penmakers use brass tubing to hold these mechanisms inside the material (acrylic, wood, stabilized wood, antler, etc.) they've chosen for their pen body or barrels. Since the mechanisms are secured in the tubing by pressure fit, their tolerances are very fine. Likewise, the holes drilled in the pen blank which will accept the tubing must be drilled precisely.

I use a dedicated drill press to drill out my pen barrels but many penmakers drill with attachments on their lathes. However it is done, the drilling must be centered in the blank and done at speeds appropriate for the material. To ensure the drill bit starts off tracking down the center of a narrow pen blank, I always find the center of the blank and mark it off in pencil. I then dimple the center point with an awl. This gives the drill bit a place to start in proper tracking. Drill speed varies by the material with acrylics and stabilized wood generally requiring a slow speed to preserve their integrity. A good practice to prevent overheating in any blank material is to continually withdraw the drill bit to clear the chips (swarf) produced by the drill bit.

Next step, preparing the tubing and then "gluing" the tubing inside the pen blank material.