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Pens Made Of Stone?


Joe Penmanship
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May I ask probably a ridiculous and naive question?

 

Has anyone turned pens from stone? Perhaps this has been addressed before and I just couldn't find the topic. If so, I apologize.

 

In brief, I have a box of petrified bones that I found as a youngster prowling the badlands of Eastern Montana (dinosaurs just laying around on the ground in some places!).

 

I have no idea what species these bones come from or how old they are. They may be bears or mammoths or dinosaurs. Regardless, They are not attractive for display and have been living in a box in my garage for years. And it occurred to me that maybe turning them into pens would give them some further intrinsic interest.

 

I can't even imagine the machinery or tooling that would be required to fashion stone. Not to mention the expense of obtaining such gear. And, frankly, I don't know if the petrifaction has removed all brittleness or if the project would just shatter.

 

Has anyone attempted stone? Am I out of my mind to consider such a thing?

 

Joe

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You could try the Visconti method and grind it down and then turn it into a sort of resin cement.

 

Good idea, Tangster. Although, I'd love to preserve the basic "boneness" of the rock with the striations and grains and actually turn the stone itself -- if it's even feasible.

 

Even so, your idea is certainly a viable one.

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William Henry Studios, Graf von Faber Castell and perhaps a few others have made pens from fossilized materials. So it's possible, but I suspect that alot of practice would be required to get it just right.

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I would start by trying to drill a hole in a small piece and see what happens.

 

Brittleness would be my big concern. Or if it drills OK, alternatively, dust. I have seen people turn alabaster and it's a powdery mess.

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Corian is usually used as a 'Stone' substitute in pen making. It's stone powder in an acrylic resin. It is hard, but machines quite well. It has some advantages over real stone: 1) it's homogenous (won't suddenly break on a flaw), 2) it's less dense, 3) it's easier to machine 4) it's less brittle, 5) it feels like stone, 6) it's stronger than many stones.

 

Regards,

 

Richard.

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William Henry Studios, Graf von Faber Castell and perhaps a few others have made pens from fossilized materials. So it's possible, but I suspect that alot of practice would be required to get it just right.

Good to know. I will research a bit and see what they have done. Thanks!

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Only stone I've done is alabaster and soapstone. Nothing like fossilized bone. I've seen pens made from fossilized whale bone so it can be done. I'd practice on a small piece first to see if it's something you want to turn. Sharp tools and lots and lots of patients will be the most important things you need.

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You may have to do some research to get the help on how to 'stabilize' a porous material first; but you could do it yourself by using air pressure to force an epoxy resin into a piece of the bone before you then drill it and machine it. A visit to the web sites of any of the hobby companies offering 'blanks' for turning pen stocks will show a large range of materials that can be used for pen blanks. There are pen blanks made from wood, antlers, composites, corncobs, acrylics, lava, and yes, even rock. Many of the more porous materials have been stabilized by forcing epoxy or resins into the material. Buying the blanks is probably easier---but not as cool as making your own from dinosaur bone! Much like pine wood is pressure treated with preservatives for outdoor use in decks, I bet you could do your own pressure treating by immersing your dinosaur bone into a liquid epoxy resin and using an air compressor or a bicycle pump to let it saturate the material under higher air pressure. You could rig an old pressure cooker or similar vessel to work as the pressurized enclosure you used to force the stabilizer into the old bone. Alternatively, you may be able to find people at an auto repair shop that would share the right equipment with you. You just need a pressure box, the valve fitting, and the air pump. Once you figure out how to do this---you may be able to make and sell Montana, dinosaur pens!! WOW! Talk about your collector's item!

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I'm not convinced they would need to be stabilized and whether it is possible or not. If you give Curtis a call, he is admittedly bad with emails, he could tell you and who he might know near you that could do it.

 

Pete

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Chip Sutherland on the Saw Mill Creek web-site found the definitive how-to for building either a pressure or vacuum based device for impregnating epoxies/resins into various materials.

 

His link follows:

I found the best how-to for building a pressure pot on IAP using the Harbor Freight pressure pot....These plans actually make both a pressure and a vacuum pot so you can use whichever one meets your needs. This will be on my to-do list for 2013.

 

content.penturners.org/library/tools_and_jigs/pressurepot.pdf

 

Forgive me if I hijacked a link from their site. I downloaded the pdf.

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Thanks all of you for your comments. I am intrigued with the pressure cooker scenario.

 

At the very least, nobody has said my idea is impossible.

 

I will update as I investigate further and move forward.

 

Joe

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I know there is a material called TruStone made for wood turning. the resin stabilizing thing posted above would probably be your best bet to tun real fossilized bones

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I would just outsource the work to someone who makes pen blanks and can do this kind of work. Granted, I can assume that something like this would be highly tricky to turn due to the inherent differences in behavior between the bone and the embedding resin. I'd also be worried about the possiblilty of breathing in rock dust which may cause lung injury to those unprepared.

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  • 2 years later...

Hi All,

I'm resurrecting this post because I came across a 'stone' pen in a small Lot that I picked up. It's certainly not a pen that I plan on keeping mainly because it is so heavy (almost 55g) and t he steel nib is far too fine.

However, it is a very pretty piece and if I were to replace the nib then I'd possibly even consider having it as a desk pen.

I'm no expert, but I've never seen a natural stone in this design (could be wrong!), so I imagine that it's some sort of composite?

There is no indication as to who made it or where it was made, so I imagine it came from a small workshop.

 

fpn_1457694438__1.jpg

 

fpn_1457694478__2.jpg

 

fpn_1457694510__3.jpg

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I just found this thread because today's posting caught my eye. Fossilized bone comes in two types: real bone (or ivory) that has been buried for tens of thousands of years but is still bone or ivory, stabilized through pressure and many centuries of burial. It can be machined just like any bone or ivory.

 

The other form of fossil bone has been petrified, that is turned into actual stone like agate or silicate (petrified wood) through the infiltration of minerals dissolved in waters over thousands or millions of years. Unless the stone in the fossil is a very soft one like alabaster, machining requires diamond tools. Making a pen barrel means boring the material out (you have to use a diamond core drill on stone, and this is done with a flow of water). The outside of the barrel is turned in a lathe and a rotating diamond cutter/grinder tool is used to slowly grind away the outer surface and work it into the shape and diameter desired. This is also done with water. Without a flow of water the diamond tool heats up too much and the diamonds are pulled out of the surface. Things can get cherry or even white hot at the point of contact without a constant flow of cooling water.

 

This comes under the category of lapidary: cutting and shaping gem stones. I'm sure lapidary artists have made fountain pen barrels and caps before, maybe out of tiger eye, jade, etc. Time consuming and requires a great deal of skill. Most interesting "stone" or mineral materials are harder than tool steel (6.5 on the Mohs scale) and thus requires diamond. In some cases carbide grinders would probably work too, but diamond is usually the most economical in cost and time. I'm sure if you Googled lapidary with fountain pen you would find something.

 

Grinding a stone to a fine powder and mixing with a resin has been done for many items. It can be cast, extruded, injection molded or pressed into near net shape. However, the fossil bones would lose all of their natural color and grain variations.

 

Impregnating with an epoxy to stabilize a porous material works well. However, if the porous material is a hard material (like sandstone), then the impregnated material will still have to be shaped or machined using diamond or carbide tools with cooling water. A porous soft stone (gypsum, calcite/marble) could be shaped with steel tools after impregnating.

 

One time I turned a black walnut shape on a lathe, something like a chess pawn. I coated it in clear epoxy, sealed it in an evacuated rubber sack, and pressurized it to 50,000 psi in a laboratory isostatic press in water. I expected to drive the epoxy into the porosity of the wood where it would harden and make the wood very hard. The clear "finish" would be inside the wood. Well, I forgot that wood properties vary greatly with the direction of the grain. My part came out with an oval cross-section, not round. The epoxy was inside the wood, it looked good, but this was too much pressure for wood to keep its shape. Now a porous bone material would have worked if the pressure had not crushed the material's porosity.

 

If it was easy, we would be seeing pens made out of rose quartz, tiger eye (that would catch my eye), gold veined quartz, amethyst, jade or other gem stones.

Eschew Sesquipedalian Obfuscation

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