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About us

Who is McKinney Pens

McKinney Pens, owned and operated by Mike Breslin, is a small family business ~ located in Texas ~ dedicated to the fine art of making unique pens.

Our pen materials

We enjoy seeking out unusal, striking materials for our pens. We have pen material from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, and South America. Find out more about sending us YOUR special wood material.

The steps to make a hand-turned pen

  1. » Select the wood
    We have several types of wood. Some very attractive and popular woods do not look good as pens. A wood with an attractive but large figure or pattern may not look as good on a canvas as small as a pen. Some materials look good on large pens and vise-versa.
  2. » Prepare the pen blank
    A "pen blank" is the small rectangular wood piece that is used in making pens.  The appearance of the wood can vary considerably by the way it is cut and the alignment of the grain to the pen.  If the pen blank is being cut from a larger piece of wood, the wood blank (board) is examined to determine the best orientation for the pen.

    Most pens have two parts, an upper and a lower barrel. The orientation of the grain is marked so that it can be maintained throughout the pen making process and the pen blank is cut into two parts.

    Each pen blank has to be cut to the proper size for the style and finish of a pen kit. There are hundreds of different pen styles available -- most in several finishes. The chosen pen style needs to compliment the wood.
  3. » Drill holes for the brass tubes
    The brass tubes are the insides of the pen. The pen blank is mounted on a drill press or lathe and holes -- sized to match the diameter of the brass tubes -- are drilled lengthwise through the center of the pen blank.
  4. » Glue the brass tubes into the pen blank
    The brass tubes are rough sanded to help the adhesion of the glue. Then glue is applied to the tubes and the tubes are inserted into the drilled holes in the pen blank.
  5. » Square and clean the pen blank
    Once the glue has set for the brass tubes, the ends of the pen blank are machined to be even and square with the tubes.
  6. » Mount the pen blank on the mandrel
    The pen blank is mounted on a mandrel with special attention to the orientation of the grain.
  7. » Turn the pen blank
    The mandrel  -- with the pen blank positioned -- is mounted on the lathe and the pen blank is turned to a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of the pen fittings.
  8. » Remount the pen blank to be sanded and finished
    The pen blank is removed from the mandrel and remounted without a mandrel for sanding and finishing.

    The pen blank is sanded up to 12,000 grit micro mesh. This sanding reduces the size of the pen blank equal to or slightly less than the size of the pen fitting, depending on the finish that will be applied.
  9. » Apply the finish to pen blank
    Depending on the type of material and finish, anywhere from 2 to 8 coats of finish will be applied. Some finishes will require light sanding between coats.
  10. » Polish and buff the pen blank
    After the finish on the pen blank has cured, the pen blank is polished with White Diamond polish and then buffed with a soft cotton buffing wheel.
  11. » Assemble the pen
    The pen blank and the pen fittings are assembled using a 1 ton arbor press.
  12. » Apply the final wax and polish
    As a final step, a coat of carnauba wax is applied to the assembled pen and the pen receives a final buffing.
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