Acrylic Styles and Finishes in Handcrafted Pens

Published: 22nd October 2010
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Acrylic pens are manufactured from several different compounds to provide the brilliant color schemes, transitions and definitions seen in the finished handcrafted pen. Most common are the acrylic acetate compound blanks that come in many different varieties of colors and designs. Poly resins are making inroads in the business and pride a more detailed specific subject matter as opposed to color striations. Finally, the more solid resins appear to be a combination of poly resin and solids that hide the inner pen tubes completely. With this new compound, the brass tube does not need to be painted to match the resin color to be hidden in the finished pen.

Witmer Enterprises uses all three of these compounds in our acrylic line of pens. They are used in our slim line pen though our largest pens we produce with outstanding effects. No two pens will exhibit the same finish depending upon how much acrylic is removed during the pen turning process. As acrylic is removed, the designs begin to take place. Small amounts are removed with each pass of the gouge to prevent digging into the acrylic.

When polished, extraordinary designs and patterns emerge and each pen becomes a mini work of art. Several lots of acrylic can generate many different, though similar, designs and color patterns to offer customers varieties for purchase. The only drawback with acrylic resin is the fact that there is a possibility of the inner pen tube being visible through the lighter shades of acrylic resin designs. Anyone can browse our website at and view our entire line of acrylic pen styles.

Poly resins, as opposed to straight acrylics, offer much more protection from detecting the inner pen tube, but can be used to embed objects for the finished pen. Some examples are coffee beans, confetti sprinkles, peas and other items that can be turned on the lathe without destroying the pen blank. These are becoming more popular, but don’t offer the amount of color variations that can be obtained with acrylic acetate formulations. Witmer Enterprises offers eight variations of poly resin designs at the present time. This is due to availability and as more designs and styles become available, they will be added to our product line.

Many pen turners are facing the same dilemma with poly resins, and that is availability. Many try to manufacture their own formulations with some success, but mostly failure. I have tried using different objects into a generic poly resin compound, but have not had much success in obtaining a very good turning piece. I can thus assess that the main suppliers to the trade are having similar difficulties. Some have a ‘rubbery’ texture to them, while others have a somewhat acrylic feel to them.

The final type of blank available for our use at Witmer Enterprises is listed under the trade name of Invisivue© pen blanks. These pen blanks are designed so that even light colored blanks can be used without observing the pen tube through the surface of the pen. Like the poly resins, the numbers of styles of this type of resin are limited in number. These are relatively new to the market and are beginning to gain popularity.

My overall assessment of the types of acrylic based resin pen blanks on the market today is that the standard acrylic acetate resin provides greater color variation; patterns and designs offer the pen turner the greatest choice for producing an excellent product.

© Witmer Enterprises 2010

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