Friday, June 24, 2011

Design This – Wood Pens

All of my previous “Design This” posts have been about something that I designed for a customer or for myself. This post is about my search to have something designed for me by someone else.

Some time back I had milled a bunch of pen blanks from a sycamore tree that we had to have taken out because it had died from drought. I set aside a few that had interesting color or spalting and toyed with the idea of learning to turn pens myself. I decided that at this time this was one more project than I could handle, so I spoke with a few pen makers that I had seen at craft shows about the possibility of having them make pens for me out of my blanks. Even though they were interested and very accomplished, none were local. So since I wasn’t in a hurry, I decided to keep their contact info but keep looking to see if I could find someone in my area.

This past spring, I noticed someone selling pens at the Downtown Arlington Farmers Market (DAFM). He had a nice assortment of pens made from different woods and turned in a variety of ways. I approached him to see if he would be willing to make pens for me out of my pen blanks and if he needed any additional blanks. It was a yes on both counts if they looked properly cured and cut. I brought my blanks out to the DAFM the next weekend for him to look at. Bob liked the looks of the blanks and could see why I was interested in having pens made for myself out of the blanks I had set aside.

We discussed what style of pen, etc. each of the blanks was best suited for and settled on four thicker and two thinner pens. We worked a partial trade for my extra blanks and I placed my order. Before Bob started turning my special blanks, he worked with one of the extra ones first to make sure how the wood worked. I was able to pick up my custom order the next weekend. I am very pleased with my pens and happy to have mementos from the old sycamore tree that used to shade my tack room. If you are in need of a lovely and functional writing instrument and Bob Igel isn’t at the DAFM, you can contact him at to see what he has for sale from Igel’s Longhorn Woodshop.

I would not have thought of going to the Downtown Arlington Farmers Market to find a woodworker/ pen turner, however that is exactly where I found the craftsman to create my pens. In addition to locally grown fruits and vegetables, you will find fresh eggs, beef, poultry, arts and crafts and more according to the Downtown Arlington Farmers Market facebook page. I was there earlier today and couldn’t resist the dead ripe homegrown tomatoes. Check it out for yourself from 8 am – 1 pm Fridays and Saturdays at 215 E. Front St., Arlington, TX.


  1. Cathy i remember when you were talking about cutting up the wood from that tree. those pen are not only beautiful they are a fond memory. he did a great job for you!! xo

  2. Wowie! Congrats to you both -- the pens are gorgeous and it's awesome you found someone like Bob. And, at the DAFM -- that's pretty cool. I love handmade!