Beautiful calligraphy work can be done with the use of various calligraphy pens and brushes that are manufactured for this specific purpose. A talented calligrapher can produce cards, invitations, certificates, diplomas and illustrations using different sizes of pen nibs and colored inks.
Aside from these commercial calligraphy pens, there are also pens made of wood. You have probably seen some wood pen kits being sold when you were surfing the web. In all likelihood you were not interested the first time you saw it since it looked complicated. Actually, that is true. Making a wood pen can be challenging as you will be using tools that you may not familiar with such as drills and lathes. However, there is a shortcut to this and you can make a wood pen kit by yourself with a few handy tips, like the ones below.
- Get your materials. You will need a Dremel rotary tool with carving and sanding bits, several hardwood dowels in different sizes. Get dowels with a one-fourth to seven-eighth inch thickness. This will depend on how easy and comfortable it will be for you when you hold the finished pens. Some people like to hold pens with thinner barrels but others prefer to hold ones that have thicker barrels. Oak, walnut or maple dowels are good ones to use. You also need a small coping saw with very fine blade, the finest sandpaper and beeswax.
- Cut the dowels into 10-inch pieces with the coping saw. Use a work bench or work table and attach a clamp on the edge. You will need this to hold the dowels in place when you cut, carve and sand them. Place a piece of cloth or thin foam over the teeth of the clamp so that these will not leave marks on the dowels. You should be able to move around freely while you are working on the pens.
- Mark a point halfway on the length of the dowel and start carving one side to a taper shape with a slightly pointed tip. Do not make it too pointed. Base the tips of the wooden pens on the actual calligraphy pens. The tip should be a bit broader so that you will be able to shape it further later on. Make sure that you work around the circumference of the dowel so that you will get a good rounded finish for the barrel.
- Work on one end of the dowel. You will be shaping the tip or nib of the pen at this point. Carve the bottom side of this end until you have a shallow concave arc. Turn the dowel over to view the top side. The sides of the nib should be V-shaped, with a straight apex. The width of the apex depends on how wide the final shape of the nib will be. Make sure that the V is centered on the midpoint of the barrel. Draw the shape on the dowel so you can easily follow the curves. Mark the center of the nib and draw a line from the tip inwards. This will be your guide when you cut a slit at the center of the nib.
- Hold the dowel firmly with the clamp and with your coping saw cut a five-eighths inch slit in the center of the nib. This is an essential part of the pen as this will be the part that will take up the ink. Insert a small piece of the finest grained sandpaper in between the slit to make the wood smoother. Run the sandpaper lightly over the tip of the nib, too. Remove the pen from the clamp and press it on a sheet of paper, just like you are going to write something. See if the nib will open slightly when you apply a bit of pressure. Carve the underside further until you can achieve a good thickness.
- Sand the whole dowel with the sanding bit attached to the Dremel tool. Apply beeswax over the entire barrel to seal the wood and make it smooth and shiny. Test your pen to see if it will take up ink and write. This can be done by trial and error. But once you have achieved the right thickness and curve, you will be glad that you did this project.
Make wood pens with different nib sizes and shapes. You can have square, angled (left and right) and rounded tips to vary the styles of your writing and start practicing your calligraphy skills. Later when you are more proficient try to add a design on the barrel to make your wood pen kits truly unique, and maybe make several sets to give as gifts.