Simple, High Quality Kits

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JonathanF1968

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I'm driving myself crazy trying to find the kind of kit that I want to make next. A gorgeous rosewood board came my way, and I want to make a bunch of pens that show it off.

Basically, I have two modes of men-making. Sometimes, I want a cool kit for a special purpose, like a Nautical kit for a boatmaker friend, or a Dragon for someone who likes dragons.

Otherwise, I want the wood to do the talking and use kits that don't distract. My default has become Cigars, usually gun metal. I like sketch pencils too, but that's for a limited pool of users.

What I really want is a simple single-barrel kit, but I don't like the clickers on the ones that I see. They define the look of the pen too much.

I'd also like to explore higher quality kits than PSI.

I'm seeing pens like the Exemplar (Professor) and Executive, and even the Jr. George. But there's a lot of kit visible, and I want the primary feature to be the wood.

So, more wood, less kit.

Thoughts? I've made around 25 pens, at this point, of maybe seven different kits, to give you an idea of my skill level.
 
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magpens

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A new kit which has an outstandingly reliable, quiet clicker is the "Blade" from BereaHardwoods.com. . This is a ballpoint, of course.
Berea is a well-known company that has been in the pen kit business for many years .... very good quality products .... I have used many of them.
Some of the best kits on the market. . I believe that you would like to explore their pen kits for beauty and quality.

This "Blade" kit has a minimum of distracting hardware and a single long barrel. . You might consider it for your purpose.

The single barrel is almost 3.75" long, so that would really show off your Rosewood. . Gun metal plating looks nice, and so does the nickel plating.
I am going by the pictures on the website. . There is also a chrome plating, but I do not see a gold plating.

I have not actually made this "Blade" kit, simply because it is so new .... only been on the market for a month or so.
However, I have made kits using the same click mechanism and I highly recommend this click mechanism to you and everyone.

If you want to stick with PSI, they have a quite new click pen called the "DuraClick EDC" which uses the very same click mechanism.
However, with this kit, you have a shorter barrel (about 2.5") and the hardware design might be a bit more distracting.

Whatever pen kit you choose, please show us a picture of the resulting pens. . I would love to see your Rosewood turned into a pen !!
 
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Brotherdale

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Great tip for the Blade. First I have heard of it and it looks great so I just ordered a few.
My favorite has been the EDC Duraclick.
 

FGarbrecht

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Don't have a lot of experience but I've done a couple of the Artisan Zen Jr. rollerball kits from Craft Supplies USA. Very simple design, mostly wood, and a magnetic cap - no clicking or twisting involved. I've given a few away and the recipients loved them. Here's one I did with the gunmetal finishR1001_2.jpeg
 

JonathanF1968

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Reading the Blade instructions, and also my first Berea instructions, and it has this direction for plugging the tube:

"Plug the ends of the tube with the material of your choice. Some use base wax, a dental product, or Play Dough, or even a slice of potato. Just push the ends of the tube into a thin section of the material. This will form a plug to keep the glue from getting into the tube."

Never done that, and it strikes me as an unnecessary step, if I am just going to clean the tube anyway with a barrel trimmer. Am I missing something?
 

FGarbrecht

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Reading the Blade instructions, and also my first Berea instructions, and it has this direction for plugging the tube:

"Plug the ends of the tube with the material of your choice. Some use base wax, a dental product, or Play Dough, or even a slice of potato. Just push the ends of the tube into a thin section of the material. This will form a plug to keep the glue from getting into the tube."

Never done that, and it strikes me as an unnecessary step, if I am just going to clean the tube anyway with a barrel trimmer. Am I missing something?
Again, not much experience here, but I've started using modeling clay to plug tubes before glue-up because, for me anyway, it is a lot easier to clean out the modeling clay than to try to get hardened epoxy out of the tubes. I just use a transfer punch of the closest size to push the clay out and the inside of the tube is ready, no muss or fuss. I've used barrel trimmer and bore brush to try to get epoxy bits out and it's a lot more work.
 

budnder

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Is it just me, or do others find that Schmidt click mechanism (e.g. the one in the blade) just too tall to be pleasing to the eye? The button height is ok, but I find the height of the metal base it presses into a difficult look to deal with.
 

JonathanF1968

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Is it just me, or do others find that Schmidt click mechanism (e.g. the one in the blade) just too tall to be pleasing to the eye? The button height is ok, but I find the height of the metal base it presses into a difficult look to deal with.
It's not my preference either! With kits, I often feel like I'm trying to decide between the lesser of evils.
 

FGarbrecht

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That's pretty nice.
Berea has a similar kit (MP208); I have one but haven't made it yet so I can't compare. The CUSA kit is made by Dayacom I believe, not cheap (about 15-16$) but not too expensive to see if you like it, and it seems to be nice quality.
 

magpens

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Reading the Blade instructions, and also my first Berea instructions, and it has this direction for plugging the tube:

"Plug the ends of the tube with the material of your choice. Some use base wax, a dental product, or Play Dough, or even a slice of potato. Just push the ends of the tube into a thin section of the material. This will form a plug to keep the glue from getting into the tube."

Never done that, and it strikes me as an unnecessary step, if I am just going to clean the tube anyway with a barrel trimmer. Am I missing something?
You have a good point .... following that recommendation can be unnecessary, since you are going to clean out the tube anyway ... and, in m y opinion, cleaning out the tube IS necessary.

Frankly, I NEVER use a plugging material in the tube. . I ALWAYS inspect and clean the interior of the brass tube.

If you use 5-minute epoxy, and do the cleaning in about 10-15 minutes after gluing, the cleaning is quite easy.
 
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magpens

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It's not my preference either! With kits, I often feel like I'm trying to decide between the lesser of evils.
Of course, you are right .... when using kits you are, indeed, making compromises all along the way, because you're working with another's design.

The only real alternative, however, is to design and manufacture your own hardware pieces, and that is impractical for most of us.
 

magpens

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Is it just me, or do others find that Schmidt click mechanism (e.g. the one in the blade) just too tall to be pleasing to the eye? The button height is ok, but I find the height of the metal base it presses into a difficult look to deal with.
The aesthetics of anything may not appeal to everyone .... and that is true about the Schmidt click mechanism ... it is another compromise !!!

The real point about the Schmidt is that it has proven smoothness of operation and reliability. . The only other quiet and reliable click mechanism in the pen kit market is the Sierra clicker from Berea, but it is getting quite old and tired looking and is much more limiting when it comes to overall finished pen appeal, in my opinion. . The Sierra design offers very little flexibility ... the same look all the time.

The Schmidt mechanism offers a new, different look, which, however, may not appeal to everyone. . I happen to like it.

I have spent several years working with the PSI Slimline Pro click mechanism .... it's noisy, has no visual appeal, and you really feel the click.

So I find the Schmidt clicker a very welcome and enormous improvement.
 

turncrazy43

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If you are looking for a kit to show off your wood blanks why not try a slim line but modify it to be a single blank. The library should have an article on that process. It eliminates the center band.
Turncrazy43
 

magpens

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The person who started this thread wrote ...

And I'm also wondering about rollerball vs. ballpoint. Never done a rollerball.
The Zen is one of the nicest rollerball designs available, in my opinion. . I have made many of them and always come back to the Zen.
The Berea MP208 is also nice, but it is newer and I have not had the opportunity to try it out.

The main point about rollerballs, as I see it, is that not many people really like them because they are not as convenient as a click ballpoint.

The click ballpoint is preferred above all pen designs, in my experience, because it requires only one hand to operate. . The twist BP can't compete.

With the rollerball you have the added inconvenience of the cap which you MUST remove in order to write and MUST replace after use.
The Zen, with its rapid magnetic cap removal and replacement, is a partial compromise, but you still need two hands to do it.

In addition, with a rollerball, not everyone likes the type of ink involved. . For one thing, it can be messy if you pocket the pen without recapping.
 

magpens

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If you are looking for a kit to show off your wood blanks why not try a slim line but modify it to be a single blank. The library should have an article on that process. It eliminates the center band.
Turncrazy43
A slimline is a slimline is a slimline !!!!! .... You can't get away from that. . You still have to use two hands to twist it.

There is no true slimline click ballpoint pen. . Yes, there is PSI's Slimline Pro, with a clicker, but it is the roughest, noisiest clicker on the market and the finished pen is fatter than the original slimline; even though you can also make it as a single barrel pen it still uses an 8mm tube.

I have become too dominant in this thread so I will shut up now. . Happy to contribute more in "conversation" mode if anyone wants to do that.
 

DrD

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I'll second Mal's recommendation of the MP208 from Berea; haven't made one, & probably won't because I lean to the 2 barrel designs - just me, & there's nothing wrong with leaning to the 1 barrel designs - personal preference & it's all good. If you wanted to consider a ball point with a single barrel there's the Elegant Sierra from Berea - which I feel is truly elegant, and the very similar (in appearance) Aero from CSUSA. It is quite delightful to have choices though, is it not?.
On this point, I have neither knowledge nor experience, only hearsay, but I believe you can use Gel refills in open end ball points and achieve the same type of writing characteristics as a roller ball. If that is the case, I would sure give the Blade from Berea a strong look.
Best wishes, Don
 

donstephan

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We all have seen pens with a worn coating on parts of the metal, which would be a shame on rosewood or any other nice wood. Berea Hardwoods I think has a section on the web site on metal coatings on kits they offer that are especially long lasting.
 

Mortalis

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My first wood pen was a Zen and I've been a fan ever since. I find myself playing with the magnetic cap, off and on, off and on, during meetings at work. I also like the Orion and the Eclipse from Woodturningz.
I purchased a few blanks of Honduras Rosewood burl (for exorbitant price) and wasn't all the thrilled with the outcome. I'd rather take a nice piece of Spalted Tiger Oak or Box Elder Burl any day.
 

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DrD

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One of the great things about turning pens is that the final product reflects the one who turned it. Me, I love rosewood and have a goodly hord of African rosewood pen blanks. My plans for those are that they will all be made with silver finish, but more importantly with Berea Hardwoods silver because it has been my experience that their silver is the best silver plate available. Don't know if BHW makes any silver single tube kits. If not I would look at their chrome kits for the same reason. Of course in the final analysis it is your decision; I'm just tossing out a few options.
Don
 

magpens

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@budnder

Is it just me, or do others find that Schmidt click mechanism (e.g. the one in the blade) just too tall to be pleasing to the eye? The button height is ok, but I find the height of the metal base it presses into a difficult look to deal with.
Well, if you don't like the height of the shroud around the push button, then you can modify your pen's design a little bit to hide the shroud.

I did a quick experiment on doing this and here are a couple of photographs of one possibility. . Absolutely no dimensions of anything have been altered and all the Berea instructions can be followed to a T. . All I did was make a little block that would fit on the top of your usual blank.
This block can be shaped in any way you like to integrate it with the main part of the blank. . All I have done is drilled some holes to allow the block to slip over the top-end hardware as snugly as possible and then trimmed the block to length so that it would butt up exactly to your main blank. . Of course, you may want to recess the seat for the clip ring to complete the integration of the two pieces of the blank. . Or you may want to do some segmenting to make a feature of the block. . The holes that I drilled are sized: letter-M, letter-S, and 11 mm. . The letter-M just allows the pushbutton to poke through the top (I didn't think it was worth an extra pic of this. . The button JUST fits through and operates smoothly.). . . . . . . The 11 mm is a snug fit over the top-end hardware piece but it is quite easily removable. . I'll leave it to you to work out the 3 hole depths to suit your purposes. . Full kit details, photos of the parts, and instructions are on the BereaHardwoods.com website .... search for the Blade pen kit.

The block can be glued in place, attaching permanently to the main blank and, if desired, to the clip and the top hardware piece (but not to the button) and no function of the pen is compromised. . Refill replacement is by unscrewing the nib, fully complying with the original kit design.

The two pics show the position of the button for both the extended and retracted positions of the refill.
The remaining aesthetics are entirely up to your creativity. . Of course, every kit has its compromises and this one is no exception.
 

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budnder

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Thanks for the ideas and experiments Mal. I have a handful of the Schmidt click mechanisms that I've been wanting to experiment with in a kitless design, so for my purposes wouldn't be constrained by the specifics of the Blade kit, and certainly shrouding the click would be fair game. I was real interested in the couple of kits that came out recently using the Schmidt, because I wanted to see what sort of design they attempted.

I don't want to hijack this thread, so will start a new thread next time I pick this little effort up, perhaps mock up a couple of ideas, including something based on your shroud, and post them for grins.
 

penicillin

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You asked for quiet clickers, not from PSI.
My answer violates both, so you may want to skip this post and move on, but here it is:

I buy nearly all of my pen kits at the local Rockler store. When Rockler doesn't carry what I want, I order from Penn State. I have not tried other sources. Rockler gets its pen kits from multiple sources. Many (most?) are from Penn State or Rizheng.

Two of my favorite kits at Rockler are the Long Wood pen and pencil kits. The wood on the pen and pencil is over four inches long. There are two issues:

* The pen click mechanism is loud and firm to push.
* You must match the pen tip to the wood perfectly. It is touchy that way.

https://www.rockler.com/long-wood-click-pen-hardware-kit-gold
https://www.rockler.com/longwood-click-pencil-hardware-kit

(Another favorite pen of mine is the Slimline Pro pen and pencil kits. You can't get the pencil kit at Rockler, only Penn State. The pen mechanism is quieter than the Long Wood pen mechanism.)

https://www.rockler.com/slimline-pro-gel-click-pen-hardware-kit-24k-gold
https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PK-PCLXX.html

Photos:
Long Wood pen and pencil set in zebrawood. Two views.
Long Wood pen and pencil set in Asteroid Glow Stonez. Two views: Light and glow-in-the-dark.


Long Wood Zebrawood Pen Pencil 1.JPG Long Wood Zebrawood Pen Pencil 2.JPG Long Wood Asteroid Pen Pencil Set Light.JPG Long Wood Asteroid Pen Pencil Set Dark.JPG
 
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