Distinctive Woodworking

From sticks to pens: making a lot of holes.

Working on a large commission like for the Viennese Winter Ball requires organization.   When I’m making one or two pens for a client, I can be extremely specific about the piece of wood, but I do not need to be quite as ‘protective’ as I move the project around the workshop.

In this case, working on almost 30 pens, each of which I have a particular design intent,  requires a whole different set of planning.

As an example, I need to figure out how I want to keep track of all the mechanical structures to the pen.  Some pens can have up to 15 different pieces to the pen, so keeping track becomes a real exercise. The easiest way is simply plastic storage boxes which allows me to visualize all the components to the pens and to compare at a seconds effort whether the particular piece of wood will work with the theme of the mechanical structure of the pen.

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As I have mentioned, my son likes to work with me in the workshop, but with his autism there are limits to what he can and cannot safely do.  The power saws are right out, but things like measuring and marking he is good at, and he loves the drill press.  As a result we can start by taking the pieces of wood that I have cut and identify which pens are likely to look best coming out of those pieces of wood.  So we start, with a plastic bin full of pieces of wood that we’ve tried to find the best possible grain and texture, capturing bark wherever possible, and preparing for a great pen.

The funny thing is, my son loves to work in the kitchen to cook: so his markers and ruler are in the kitchen near his peanut butter, and he marks each piece of wood with the type of pen that we’re making.



By the time we’re done, we’ve got a whole bunch of wood ready and we can shift to the workshop to get ready.


I have an organizational system I use when preparing all the pieces of wood: I have old scrap wooden display boxes, which are absolutely perfect for keeping track of project materials.  So   we get started cutting out each piece of wood.  And by the time we’re done, its quite a different look to the box!



What happens next is that my son and I get to work in the workshop, IMG_1942carefully drilling out each piece of wood to accept the wooden barrel that will reinforce the pen


And by the time we’re done, a huge pile of sawdust, and a lot of pieces of wood that are ready to continue on the road to becoming pens.