Why Berea Hardwood Pen Kits are different

by Mr. Jim Heusinger, President, Berea Hardwoods, Inc.

The Berea Hardwoods pen kits are not the same as the "discount' kits, generic kits or kits for people on a budget. All of these terms are very often used as a nice way of saying poorly made and/or inferior kits. Berea Hardwoods makes every attempt to offer kits that are well engineered, designed and plated.

"It would be very easy for us to cheapen the kits and sell them at a lower price. There are many ways to do this such as using a cheap tumbler 24k "epoxy" coated plating or to use less durable twist mechanisms or to put less ink in our refills or use cheap center rings, clips, etc.

Superior Plating

When we use 24k plating we use an upgraded 24k gold "rack" plating where each part in individually plated on a 'plating tree'. We offer a wide range of superior platings such as titanium gold, black titanium, real platinum, heavy sterling silver and chrome.

Superior Engineering

Our twist mechanisms are premium heavy duty ones. We employ good engineering to our kits to make them durable and able to function properly for many years. We design and make parts that look crisp and attractive.

A good example is our Flat Top American Ballpoint pen. On this kit we drop the twist mechanism down from the top of the pen. This method provides for superior durability and function. The center band on this kit is in three pieces and the black band is acrylic. This provides for a crisper look as well as increased durability.

Designed For The Kit Maker

Many or our kits have been engineered and designed by us specifically for kit makers and are not taken from generic pens meant for volume inexpensive pens in Asia.

The crafting of quality pens from our quality kits is straightforward and relatively simple. Pen crafting can be an enjoyable, rewarding and fun experience. All of our kits have been thoroughly tested and many have been sold for over 14 years. Pen crafting is, however, a learned skill. The process requires practice and the willingness to learn. My advise to you is this: If you don't have: 1. The mechanical ability; 2. The ability to read and follow instructions; 3. The patience to learn and 4. The proper equipment or the willingness to obtain the proper equipment... then I would suggest that you might try another endeavor. In the vast majority of cases where difficulties are encountered in making a kit, an error has been made by the pen-crafter. It is not usually an error with the kit. Examples include:

1. GLUE LEFT INSIDE THE BRASS TUBES All glue residue must be completely removed from inside the brass tubes. Glue residue can cause twist mechanisms to jam, be stiff or interfere with the fit of the components. Kits requiring exposed brass tubing in which the center band is to be pressed fit onto the tube requires that all glue be removed from the exposed brass tube.

2. SHORTENING THE BRASS TUBES 98% of pen kits are 'tube length sensitive'. The brass tubes cannot be shortened. Frequently, when squaring off the ends of the wood, brass and wood are removed therefore shorting the tube. This often happens when a barrel trimmer is used. Shortening the tubes can cause the pen not to work or cause the ink refill to extend out too far. Leave about 1/16" of wood extending past the end of the brass tube (prior to trimming) and trim this extra wood up to the brass tube and stop trimming.

3. COMPRESSING OR EXPANDING THE BRASS TUBES When pressing parts together, great care must be taken to make sure that the matching parts are aligned, straight and not cocked. If the parts are cocked, then the matching parts can be compressed or expanded which can result in a major failure of the kit; the twist mechanism can jam and the other parts will not fit together properly.

We highly recommend that you purchase an arbor press to press parts together. An arbor press can be purchased for around $30.00 or less from Harbor Freight or ENCO. We discourage the use of wood clamps and horizontal vice assembly tools. No matter what method you use, make sure the parts are straight and not cocked and press slowly and carefully. Chamfer the opening of the pen tube to remove the sharp edge that can cause outward pressure and difficulty in assembly.

4. OVER TIGHTENING THE NUT ON YOUR PEN MANDREL There is a tendency to over tighten the brass nut when you start turning a pen blank. This is okay. Once the pen is round, then the nut should be loosened and gently snuggled up. If this is not done, the pen blank can crack as you turn the wood down, as it becomes thinner. This usually happens when the pen is almost completely turned down.

Pen blanks (wood, plastic, Dymondwood, et cetera) can crack while drilling if not drilled correctly. You must run your drill press between 900 RPM - 1500 RPM. A speed under 900 RPM can cause the material to crack due to the pressure of not ejecting the chips fast enough. A speed over 1500 RPM can overheat the material and cause cracking.