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My Interest in Pens

Picture and portrait of WilliamHow I Became Interested in Handmade Pens

At heart, I am an artist. In my mind, I am an engineer. I love helping people and working with my hands. All combined, my goal is to become a dentist, where I can use my hands to help people feel and look good.

My father has enjoyed working with wood since I can remember. He and I have built furniture, cabinets, erected walls, finished ceilings, put up crown molding and everything else that you might expect someone who likes working with their hands might do around a home. But, it isn't art.

He struggled with trying to find something with wood that I might be passionate about, until one day, when we were in a local wood-supply store, I saw a hand turned pen. It fascinated me. I asked my dad if I could learn to turn wood (he immediately thought bowls and vessels), and he agreed that he would let me learn how. Only problem - he had never turned anything in his life.

Undaunted, I proceeded to research how to learn woodturning and how to make pens. By a stroke of luck, my father had his grandfather's old Montgomery Ward's lathe in his basement. It had sat there, unused (rusty, no motor, no stand, nothing but basically the cast iron bed) since I was born. But, we had the foundation, a direction, interest and consequently, a mission.

My father helped me refinish my great, grandfather's lathe. We sanded it, scraped it, took all the rust off of it, refinished it, greased it, oiled it (no ball bearings, have to constantly oil it), put new belts on it, put a new motor on it, built a stand, bought the turning tools, and all the other little items you would need to get the lathe working again. I am certain it would have been less expensive to purchase a new one. But, over 70 years later, the lathe came back to life, and I used my great grandfather's lathe, to turn my first pen.

I certainly wish I could tell you that the first pen came out perfect. It would be a Hallmark moment. But, alas, no such luck. I had to learn the craft, just as everyone else has ever learned a skill. Slowly, with patience and perseverance. But, over time, I believe I have become good at it.

But, I enjoyed it from the first moment. Still do.