My story of recently taking up the tradition of handwriting letters starts with a chunk of wood and a persistent son.

My son, Isaac, is a fine woodworking craftsman, remodeler and artist. We both share a love of working with wood and he kept encouraging me to take up the art of wood turning on a lathe. I didn’t need another hobby and told him so. The last time I tried my hand with a lathe some 30 years ago, I managed to accidentally chuck a tool through the window of my woodshop. I sold the lathe soon after.

Not to be dissuaded, Isaac brought a lathe and tools to my shop and showed me how to turn pens out of wood. I fell head-over-heels-in-love with woodturning and purchased my own lathe and tools. Over the course of time, I’ve discovered great delight in making a variety of pen styles, bowls, wine stoppers and kindling for firewood. Yes, I’ve had more than a few disasters on the lathe.

While trying out various pen designs, I decided to make a fountain pen. After making my first one, I decided to resume handwriting letters. I have been surprised at how much I enjoy it and how it’s improving my writing.

  1. I slow down – I can type rather fast so I often throw a lot of words on a page first, then go back to edit
  2. I gather my thoughts first – there is no delete, copy or paste button so I want to make sure I know what I want to say before I write it down
  3. Good memories are stirred about the person to whom I’m writing- if it takes me 45 minutes to write a letter, that is 45 minutes I’ve spent reminiscing about a good friend
  4. I know the receiver will cherish it – handwritten letters require more labor than hammering out a quick email and so are more rare. The person who receives the letter intuitively knows that great affection has gone into writing the letter
  5. I have fun choosing to whom I’ll write the next letter- this makes me value the number of friends and  heroes I have

I have my own writing desk in the library, a special pen I use only for handwriting letters and an image above the desk to inspire me. (captured by HR Kuhns, MD – see more of his works at:  _DSC2219

Try handwriting a letter sometime and see if it does for you what it does for me.

On a side note, I’ve been given a fantastic burly log that I am going to create artistic items from in order to feed as many hungry people as possible. Stay tuned for the first set of matching  fountain/roller ball pens from the burly log. They will be offered through The Outreach Program via an online auction (similar to Ebay). Sign up for my blog or follow me on Facebook to stay posted!

For your enjoyment, here are a few pens I’ve made and the wood from w which they’re made. The white one is spalted hackberry – from a piece of firewood I was cutting. Spalting refers to the dark lines which are actually the tree rotting.

Spalted Hackberry Fountain Pen



The Burly Log Pen (Chinese Elm)