Making my own Fountain Pen!
Since childhood, I have always been fascinated by "the old ways". The Homeric orations that served as history. The old scholar at his or her desk, writing away on scrolls of parchment with a feather for a pen. The blacksmiths and tradesmiths earning their living simply through the quality of the work their hands produced. The dusty volumes, written by genius and layman alike, lying untouched in masses in forgotten alcoves, waiting expectantly for their next reader.

One of the few unique things that seems to have survived the tumultuous, industrial progression from the past to present is the Fountain pen. Reminiscent of old scholarly feather pens, yet implemented using current technology and modern materials, the Fountain pen is a peculiar device. Some use them as status or wealth symbols, and garnish them with expensive metals and stones. Others appreciate them as family heirlooms or pieces of history, and treasure them as fragile objects leftover from another era. Some even use them as writing utensils!

For me, Fountain pens have always been absolutely gorgeous to behold, and utterly fascinating to comprehend, and I have always wanted my own. So, in my last week before my senior year at UC Berkeley, I decided to make one myself!
Before I began making my own Fountain pen, I did some research, and found the parts I would need online and ordered them. Then came the tough decision: what material should I use? Plastic? Wood? What type of wood?

After a little deliberation, I settled on a close-grain hardwood called Buckeye Burl I had seen briefly at the Ann Arbor Art Fair in 2013. It is a gorgeous wood with lots of beautiful coloration and patterns, and it is a burl that comes from the California Buckeye! 
You can see the beautiful Buckeye Burl pen blank above.
 
 
I first cut up the pen blank into two pieces that matched the brass tubes that form the structure of the pen. I drilled the blanks to accomodate the tubes, and epoxied the tubes in, as seen above.
 
Then came the laborious process of sanding the blanks down, to a reasonable size so that I could easily carve them on my drill press.
 
I rounded away the sharp edges using a sander and some coarse-grit sandpaper, and then the pieces were ready for carving!
 
Due to the fact that I am a college student, and my budget is practically non-existant, I decided against buying a proper wood lathe to carve the wood, and outfitted my dad's old drill press to do the carving! This decision required me to do the initial sanding as seen earlier.

I used a threaded rod to serve as the mandrel, and stuffed it as far into the chuck as it would reach. I then used 4 nuts to compress and lock the blanks to the rod, so that they would spin with the mandrel. I then used the concave, sharp edge of a drill bit to carve down the wood by hand to the correct size (shown by the bushing), and then I sanded to fine sheen using first 500 grit, then 1000 grit sandpaper.
 
Lastly, I used some buffing compound to add a nice gloss and sealed finish.
 
To begin pen assembly, I removed the bushings from the wood pieces, and noted which sides were which. You can see that on one of the pieces, the outer diameter is different side-to-side. That is by design.
 
I first arranged all the parts, to get a good idea of where all the pieces would go.
 
 
Then I fitted the clip and cap.
 
I then moved to the pen body. First, I press-fitted the bottom end pieces to the smaller-diameter end of the wood and brass tubing.
 
Then came the actual housing that the nib would thread into.
 
I fitted the above ink cartridge to the nib, threaded it in, and then I was DONE. 
 
The picture above does not do justice to how gorgeous the finished product is. As with many tools, the beauty can only be truly realized when one really handles and uses the piece. 

Hope you enjoyed it! I surely did :)
Making my own Fountain Pen!
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Making my own Fountain Pen!

I've always wanted a Fountain pen of my own, so I finally just made one myself!
86
14,311
2
Published: