Mass. Cities and Towns Signs

While reading a local news story the other day, the picture they used included one of our (Massachusetts) Town signs. It suddenly occurred to me that it would look really nice if done in white Corian. No, not the real sign, the town couldn’t afford them if they were made from Corian! I mean a smaller version. Something to fit on a shelf or a desk.

And necessity being the mother of invention, I needed a gift for a going away party. One of my brothers was transferring to Florida. These signs a pretty much standard throughout our state, so I didn’t have to drive down to his town to see what his looked like.Burlington Sign

The signs all have an open book shape. all straight lines except for the top. It looks like a top lip. I matched the font, and added a vector copy of our state seal. I had to look up his town’s date of incorporation, to include on the sign. All of that was the easy part. Now I had to cut a piece of 1/2 inch Corian to the right shape.

I cut a routing template to the right shape and pattern routed the piece of Corian. I haven’t done that sort of thing for a while, but it all came back to me ok. The real signs have a blue state seal, with black lettering and a black border smaller than the sign, but the same shape. Now off to the laser. I engrave a lot of Corian, and color fill the designs, but all of them have been a single color. The sign would require two colors. Fortunately there is a reasonable distance between the seal and the lettering.

I was happy with the result. So after making the one for my brother, I made another for myself with my town’s info. . I also found a site with all of the cities and towns in the state, with their founding or incorporating dates.Entering Billerica Engraved Sign

I am debating on whether to make these for sale or not. Corian is very pricey. I would have to find a reliable source for the material, and work out a reasonable price. If you have any thoughts on the matter feel free to chime in.


How could anyone not like Jerry?

Isn’t that exactly how we feel about our dogs? (Just don’t ask my neighbor Crazy Joe Devola, whose trash she used to tear apart)

This project started with the simple idea of creating a nice pen with a picture of my dog. She was a Siberian Husky/Malmute mix. (I am not mentioning her by name here, because I have used her name in a number of online logins).  I got her used from a guy I worked with at the time. He wasn’t sure of her age at the time, but we had her for 16 years.

Finished Husky Image on Corian Pen

Finished Husky Image on Corian Pen

Easy beans. Make a pen, get a picture, engrave the pen, color fill and I’m done…..Wrong!

Selecting the pen material and making the pen were pretty straight forward. I used white Corian with the intent of doing a black color fill. For a Siberian Husky, what could be better?

Now I’ll just sort through some old pictures, I’m sure I have some nice ones. She was alive in the pre-digital age, but I used to take a lot of pictures with my 110.

Hmm….. Too blurry. Too dark. Too far away. The background is the same color as the dog. Would have been perfect if one of my kids wasn’t hugging her and blocking half of her face. Are you getting the idea? This was supposed to be easy.

If she was still alive, and I used my digital camera, and I set the background, and I tweaked the lighting, and she sat still long enough etc  etc  …….

Time to regroup. These are probably typical of most people’s pictures, so it’s time to get over it, and make something work. I chose a pic that was pretty far away, but very good otherwise. Scanned it at a high magnification and very high dpi. It made for a pretty large file, but I only needed her upper body, so not unmanageable.

To remove the background can be a little tricky. I have used Photoshop for this, but found a great site that is quick and easy – clippingmagic.com.

Finally, a good looking high res image of my dog. On the computer screen anyway. Time to test it out. I polished up some Corian, and did a test engraving. As I wiped off the excess ink from the color fill, I was thinking, am I good or what? It turned out to be what. The result was ok, but just ok. So, back to the drawing board.

I engrave a lot of half tone images, and they come out really nice, but for this project I wanted to refine the result. There was just something a bit off with the look of the fur. A dithering pattern might do the trick, so I searched out and tested as many as I could find. By now, I had a pretty extensive string of color filled Corian Husky images. After exhausting the list of patterns, I had at least one very promising result. The next step was a foot long strip of Corian where I stepped out the image to fit as many as I could over that length. Each image was given a different speed or power setting or both (obviously I recorded the settings for each). Upon completion, I had one image that just looked just right. As it turned out it was at a setting that I never would have used for something like this, but I guess that is how we learn.

Now I had to make sure the result was repeatable, and also looked as good when engraved on a cylinder. The final testing was done on turned Corian instead of the flat stock. The only adjustment required from that point on, was in the aspect ratio (length vs width) to compensate for the diameter of the finished pen.

This whole saga was spread out over about a month, because sometimes you just have to walk away. I’m glad I didn’t settle for some of the earlier results, because I like the way it finally came out, and hope you do too.

Finished German Shepherd Image on Corian Pen

Finished German Shepherd Image on Corian Pen

Using what I learned, I applied it to some other breeds with good results.

I sure miss that dog.

Multiple Breeds of Dogs on Pen Blanks

Multiple Breeds of Dogs on Pen Blanks

  I hate to admit it, but I have finally succumbed. I bought some wooden pens and matching boxes that were imported from China. For the price, they are actually not too bad. I get a lot of comments from people who say they love my laser engraved pens, but just can’t bring themselves to plunk down that much money for a pen. I understand that. I  have no problem with that.

 I have been working on some new designs to engrave these pens. The import prices will let me put together an affordable package of an engraved pen with a matching engraved wooden box.

Here is the first new design

Here is the first new design

 I’m happy with the results, and would like to know what you think. I spend many hours preparing these designs to get a good 3D effect. This teacher pen box was certainly no exception.
left side - strapped books with an apple on top

left side - strapped books with an apple on top

Have a look at the close ups.
right side close up - chalk board

right side close up - chalk board

And now for the pen.
Engraved Teacher's pen on top of pen box

Engraved Teacher

  I had to change the intro to my web site. I had claimed that all of the pens on the site were hand made by Wooden Pen Works, obviously that is no longer the case. I have created a seperate section for the imports so there will be no confusion as to what the visitor is looking at. I’m certainly not trying to pull a fast one here.

  I hope my customers will see it as a good value, with a nice pen and box and some superior engraving.

The plan is to continuously add new designs, so be sure to visit the web site often.


It’s no secret. Pick up any newspaper or tune in to any news broadcast. All you hear about is Global Warming. There is a movement toward alternatives to Petroleum.

  Now look around at all of those Plastic Disposable Pens you have been using. Just where do you think that plastic comes from? If you guessed Petroleum you are correct. You don’t win anything for being correct, as a matter of fact, you lose.

  I read one report that said Americans throw out 1.6 Billion of these pens each year. Yes, that’s Billions with a B. Feeling pretty guilty now? Wondering what you can do to help solve the problem? Well, I just happen to have a solution for you (what a coincidence huh?).  Here it is. Handmade Wooden Pens

  A simple, yet elegant solution to the problem. Wood as a renewable resource is preferable for the body of the pen. The pen should last a lifetime, as the refills are replaceable.

  The Plastics can’t compete with wood when it comes to beauty and warmth. The first time you pick up a wooden pen you will notice the feel of the wood. It just feels right.

Four Color Segmented Wooden Pen

Four Color Segmented Wooden Pen

And for those who say” I don’t use nice pens because I loose them all of the time”, I say you loose them all of the time because the pens you use are just crappy plastic throw aways that you couldn’t care less about. People who use my pens tell me they quickly get used to keeping track of their pen just as they would with any of their other belongings, and not one of them has lost a pen yet. Another thing that helps is to have your name engraved on your pen.

Laser Engraved Olive Wood Pen

Laser Engraved Olive Wood Pen

One other nice thing about wooden pens, is that in addition to text, you can laser engrave some pretty detailed carvings.

Wavy Maple Pen with Firefighter Emblem

Wavy Maple Pen with Firefighter Emblem

To see these pens and more, visit:


I have always been fascinated by the Coat of Arms hanging on the wall in my father’s house. After a little on-line searching, I was able to find a source for Heraldic art that I could modify to be compatible with my laser engraver.


Coat of Arms laser engraved pen 


 The Coat of Arms begins as a color version, approximately 4″ x 5″. That’s a little too big to fit on a pen. The trick is to get it small enough, while retaining just enough detail to engrave successfully. If you leave too many features, they start to run together, and the design becomes a big blob. After doing enough of them, you get to know what works and what doesn’t. 

  I currently have list of over 11,000 available names including Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese heraldry. The designs get modified  as needed. There is no way I could do the entire library in advance. 

 The pen itself is hand made from Bethlehem Olive Wood. The wood engraves very well, and I have been able to pick through my inventory to get pieces that have some nice clear sections. I have tried several other wood types, but their grain makes the result unpredictable. Hickory for instance. Some of the grain engraves more deeply, and results in deep grooves within the pattern.

 Who wouldn’t like to see their family crest engraved on a beautiful hand made pen?  I am selling these for $65.00 on my web site. Considering the time that goes into the preparation, and the fact that you can’t get one anywhere else on the planet, I think that is reasonable. Like anything else, value is in the eye of the beholder.

Claddagh Pen 

  I have been working on a few new patterns to engrave onto (or is it into?) my wooden pens.  I know that women really like the Claddagh and it’s romantic connotations. Men on the other hand, are less inclined to sport anything with a Claddagh design , like the ring in my jewelry box.  That started me thinking about a Claddagh that a guy wouldn’t mind being seen with. 

For starters it would have to be a nice big rugged looking pen, so I chose this cigar pen style. Next, I drew up this Claddagh design, and sized it to go about 2/3 ds of the way around the pen.  The pen clip will be placed in the 1/3 gap in the pattern. A fair amount of trial and error went into the final design. I know its only personal choice, but I like the look of a deep background, which allows the main features to stand out. It looks more like a carving than an engraving that way. I have done a fair amount of wood carving, and tried to give the background a scooped out look, as if done with a gouge.

 You can be the judge as to whether I succeeded or not.      
Top half of pen showing Claddagh

I tried the pattern in Hickory.The contrast of light wood to dark engraving looked great, but the grain led to too much variation in depth within the pattern.  Olive wood had a nice contrast without the grain issues. Another nice thing about the olive wood is that many of my pen blanks have a section with very few if any features. That leaves a nice clear area for the engraving, while at the same time having some really beautiful features on the rest of the pen. 

The picture below shows multiple views of the finished pen.
Multiple views of the finished pen.

  In all modesty, I think I nailed it on this one.  What do you think? Comments are welcome.

To see more of my work, visit:


We all share a common problem. What do I get for my mother for Christmas, Birthday, or Mother’s Day?

 MOM pen barrelMOM pen barrel

   Since we are all in the same boat on this problem, I took my best shot at a solution. Here is a nice looking pen designed just for Mom. Think about it for a minute…

  First of all it is a nice pen. Who wouldn’t like a nice pen? More importantly though, the pen is engraved with all of Mom’s kids. The lower barrel has all of the names in any order that you would like to see them. Even though you might like to see your name first on the list, I think order of birth might be more appropriate. But you get to decide, so knock yourself out. If you are an only child, you get to put your name anywhere you want.

MOM’s pen

  When your Mom takes out her pen and waves it around like Norton signing a check, someone is bound to say “what an interesting pen”. That will be your mother’s cue to show the pen and glowingly describe each child in turn. What mother could resist such a chance. She is also likely to go on about how thoughtful it was of you (her favorite child) to have gone through all of the trouble to have the perfect gift designed especially for her.

  And now to the pen…..

As with all of my pens, this one was hand turned on a my wood lathe. The engraving spirals down and around from the center band down to the tip. The names are separated by a nice little heart. The overall design lends itself to other possibilities to follow. Dad, Grandms, Grandpa etc…

  The spiral design was a little tricky to work out. Font size and spiral angle have to be carefully planned, to keep the names from overlapping on the way around. A fair amount of time was spent working out the details, but I think the result is pretty good. The ornate font for MOM works best for a short name like MOM. Longer names like Grandma will look better in another font.

  Hickory was used because it is a nice looking wood, but more importantly, it engraves with a nice contrast.

So what are you waiting for? There is nothing left to think about.

Your MOM will love it.

You can view this pen, and many others at :