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Janice + Nathan Woods' Custom Wooden Pens

Unique, Handmade Pens

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Jordan Blackwell

Originally published in Lake Murray Lifestyle

Eight years ago, Lake Murray area resident Janice Woods bought a custom-made pen for her husband, Nathan, as his birthday present. It's been one of those gifts that keeps giving!

"Little did I know my $80 investment would blossom into purchasing many tools and a great hobby we could do together," Janice says.

The Woods first created handmade pens for family and friends. After rave reviews, they ventured into selling some pens at a few craft fairs. 

"Often Nathan took his lathe, and everyone enjoyed watching him custom-make their pen on the spot," Janice says.

The wood used by the Woods is sourced from both new and reclaimed sources. Janice says they purchase exotic woods from a wood distributor, their family brings them black walnut wood from Iowa, and they've been known to stop and ask for a chuck of wood if they see someone's tree laying in a yard.

She says they also try to bring wood back from each missionary trip they take.

"We then create a pen from the missions trip wood and send them to each of the people who helped with the missions project," Janice adds. 

The most exotic wood types they used for pens include zebrawood, ebony, cocobolo, lacewood and Honduran rosewood.

Depending on pen style, it takes the Woods at least 45 minutes to make one; some take up to two hours. Nathan says pen shape is the most customizable aspect, as well as clips, cases and different bands on certain pens.

Marketing the pens—at $25 to $150—mainly happens by word of mouth.

"Since this is a hobby for us, we keep busy with just referrals. People are proud of the pens we made them and show them to others. We don't mass-produce them," assures Janice. "Every piece of wood is unique, and we typically work with customers who want that 'special' pen that will represent their personality."

She says one of the most interesting pens they've made was one with the Marine symbol, which had 27 different tiny pieces of wood they assembled as a puzzle.  

The Lord made every tree unique, so even if we make 100 pens from the same tree, every single one of them will be different!

The Lord made every tree unique, so even if we make 100 pens from the same tree, every single one of them will be different!

  • These types of pens make perfect gifts for "hard to buy for" people.
  • Janice and Nathan Woods love to see people's faces light up when they see how beautiful and unique the different pen designs are in wood. 
  • Nathan and Janice are making pens for a company who wanted unique Christmas 'thank you for your business' gifts for their customers.
  • The Woods have customers who order multiple pens for their employee Christmas gifts.