A pen holder made from a log is a fun and simple project to make for people of all ages and all abilities. Its simple construction coupled with its everyday usefulness make this a brilliant project to do with kids. They are perfect for gifts as well!
I made some of these with my cousins (9 and 12) who really enjoyed making them as gifts for family as well as for themselves.
Step 1: Choose and Prepare Wood
You'll need to go and find a suitable log and then cut it into segments to make your pen holder. I used a fresh piece of plum cut into cylinders about 10 cm high. How you cut the wood is up to you – I let a responsible adult cut it with a chainsaw. While I used whole cross sections of the log, if your log is big then you might be able to use a sector of it (a pizza-slice shaped piece).
Take a wire brush to the log to remove as much dirt, moss or lichen as possible and if you don't like the ends, you can plane them until they're smooth. Personally, I liked the ridged effect from the chainsaw so I left it as it was.
Chainsaws and power tools are dangerous. Use them only if you know exactly what you are doing. If you are under 18 make sure that you have a parent/guardian do any chainsawing for you and ask them for permission before using a drill. Wear safety gear and follow all the manufacturer's instructions but most importantly, be safe!
Step 2: Drill Holes
At this point you need to decide what sort of stationery you want to keep in your pen holder. Take some measurements and get drilling! Here are some common sizes:
- Pencil ⌀ ≈7 mm – use 8 mm woodworking bit
- Biro ⌀ ≈9 mm – use 10 mm woodworking bit
- A small eraser or a sharpener will fit in a shallow hole of ⌀ ≈30 mm (use a spade or forstner bit)
Because my log had a natural 'bump' or 'growth' on one side, I decided to place my eraser hole there. I also learnt some lessons from making 5 of these:
- Take extra care to get your drill perfectly vertical – get a friend (or cousin!) to help, or better still, use a pillar drill or drill press if you have access to one to give a perfectly sharp edge to your holes. I managed with a power drill, but I would advise practicing on an off cut beforehand.
- Hint: I found starting slowly and waiting longer before speeding up and applying plenty of downward pressure yielded the best results.
- Be careful when drilling if your log is smaller at one end so that your holes don't pop out of the sides of the log. This is many times more annoying than it sounds!
- Think carefully about where you want your holes to be and don't overdo it. 'Less is more,' as they say.
Step 3: Finished!
At this point all that remains is to fill your pen holders with whatever combination of pencils, pens and other stationery you want. Then, you can stand back and admire your handiwork!