Project of the Week

Project of the Week

Make a Quill Pen

You’ll need:

• cutting board

• X-ACTO knife or sharp knife

• several 12″ long feathers with ¼" diameter stems

• tweezers

• sand

• tin can

  1. Select a quill feather that has a nice curvature and fits well in your writing hand. The lower feathers will make it uncomfortable for writing, so you’ll want to shave the feathers off one side of the barrel as well as about ¼ of the other side from the bottom.
  2. Fill the tin can with sand and heat it in your oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Place your quill feathers into the sand as deep as possible, stem down. Leave them until the sand cools. This tempering process will make your feathers less brittle and easier to cut.
  3. Use caution when cutting; always cut away from you and on a cutting board. While holding your feather tip with the curvature arching downward, make a small 45° cut that will just remove the tip of the quill.
  4. Make a ¼” long slit, centered, in the shorter side of the opening in your quill by sliding your knife into the opening, blade up, and gently levering your knife upwards.
  5. Turn your quill over, cut side down, to make a longer, less angled cut on the opposite side for the pen’s “ink well”: make a small mark about ⅝″ up from the tip, then angle your knife and cut by slanting your knife down toward the slit. This cut should remove about half of the pen’s thickness.
  6. Using tweezers, remove the membrane from the quill.
  7. Shape the nib of the pen by gently carving away the corners on both sides of the slit into a curve toward the tip. The tip shouldn’t be too wide or too narrow or it won’t write properly. This may take practice. Try to make the tines of the tip (on either side of the slit) equal.
  8. Finalize your pen by sharpening it for use: turn your pen over and cut off a tiny bit of the end at a 45° angle.
Illustrations, steps 3, 4, 5, 7, 8

©MaryJanesFarm · POB 8691, Moscow, ID 83843 · ·