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Old 04-06-2018, 09:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
deeceedub's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Brownfield, TX
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Default School me on blank material options, please

I'm a clueless newbie, so please be patient. I will ask LOTS of stupid questions.

My husband is a banker (rural ag-centered area of West Texas). Every year at Christmas the bank gives gifts to customers- hams, tins of fancy nuts, etc. This year he wants to make pens to give away instead. We are looking at probably 50-60 pens or so, nothing outrageous.

I've been seeing so many blanks described here on IAP with interesting materials. It got me wondering about some possibilities for blanks for the bank pens. Most of the recipients will be farmers...

Would it be possible to make blanks from cotton seeds? Peanut shells? Watermelon seeds?

Are there individuals out there who will cast blanks for others, and if so, what does it generally cost for a dozen or so blanks? I'm not looking for a binding quote or anything like that, just curious if such a thing was even possible and what a ballpark cost per blank might be.

All of this is mostly just me trying to think outside the box. We can always do wood or acrylic pens that I'm sure the customers would love. Probably much better than a ham, anyway.

Looking forward to the info/comments/education, even if it's just y'all telling me I'm crazy and none of that will work.
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
Join Date: Nov 2010
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You can get corncob, coffee bean, pasta, snakeskin sweat gum pods, pinecones and the list goes on and on. There will be people that will come forward and offer their services. Basically anything you can think of could or has been cast including manure.
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Shredded currency comes to mind. Mesquite, Texas Ebony also. I got a few pecan blanks from a member here who breeds them on his TX ranch. Exotic Blanks carries a TX flag in clear acrylic. The list is endless.

Good luck to you--my paralysis usually starts on deciding what to turn and what hardware to use--often spend more time scratching my head and chin than I do actually making the pen!!
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yes to peanut shells and watermelon seeds. Not so sure about cotton seeds ... pretty blah I would think.

If you are giving the pens away, I would suggest the cheapest attractive blanks are in the acrylic acetate family (or AA). You can find these at several vendors in quantity 25+ for about $2.50 each. You can get wood blanks more cheaply, but they look the part whereas you can get some really attractive AA blanks at about this price. I would suggest looking at and which have by far the best quality for this approx price.

If you go for cast blanks, especially custom cast, you are looking at approx three times the price at best.

If you value your time, you should stick to giving away hams.

Kids rule the world !!! .... eventually if not already !

Last edited by magpens; 04-06-2018 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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There are several money themed pens. Shredded currency are fairly common, I have 1 or 2 of the "Benjamin" style that are printed labels cast under acrylic. Bruce Egolf aka Bruce119 made these at one time and they look nice.

Most things can be put in acrylic. Any seeds must be dried first. Cast using pressure or vacuum to drive the acrylic into the seeds. Use CA during turning to prevent small pieces of seed from flying off. There are people who can make the blanks for you,

If they will pay you for doing this then OK, but it will get expensive. Plan on $10-$20 per blank (set). Get a few extra because there will be failures.

Hope this helps....
Randy S.
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The only stupid question is the one not asked.
To err is human; To really mess it up, you need a computer.
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Old 04-07-2018, 09:04 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Woodchipper View Post
The only stupid question is the one not asked.
I couldn't agree more...!

I agree with has been said also by other members, sure is totally possible to produce all the blanks you mentioned but at a price that will be far superior than most of the cast blanks sold commercially (exceptions do apply, off-course).

The cost would also be determined by the need to cast a full-size pen blank (normally 5") used normally in double barrel pens or casts for a single barrel pen that wouldn't need more than 2.5" to 3" (exceptions do also apply).

There are many folks in the USA that are casting beautiful blanks, I'm sure some of them would be up for the challenge.

I think, one of the most important questions is, how much are you and your husband considering feasible to spend for the 50 or 60 complete pens, the answer would put you in a ballpark for some options, those type of castings you are enquiring about may or not be within limit.

Hope this helps,

"Don't give others what you don't like for yourself"


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Old 04-07-2018, 05:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Brownfield, TX
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Thanks, all, for the excellent information. And thanks to those who have PMed me information as well.

It looks as if the custom casting will be cost-prohibitive for this specific use. The bank does of course pay us for our supplies and our time...but we still need to keep costs pretty reasonable. I guess I was mostly curious about our options.

The cash-themed blanks may be something he chooses to use as gifts for his employees (it's a small bank, only 9 of them). He usually makes them something from his wood shop for Christmas. They would love those pens. The large group of customer pens will probably end up being a mix of acrylic, wood, and antler.

Again, thank you all for your responses and for your patience. Now, I better go get busy making pens.
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