pensThe Campus Bookstore carries a number of pens handmade by professor emeritus Mike Weis.

Retired biology professor turning out handmade pens

His woodworking instructor cautioned that turning pens was addictive, but Mike Weis ignored that warning. Hundreds of pens later, the biology professor emeritus admits he’s hooked.

He has a number of his handmade creations for sale in the Campus Bookstore. Each piece is fashioned on a lathe and fitted with an insert to form a writing implement — mechanical pencil, ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen.

Dr. Weis says he enjoys how quickly the project is completed.

“It’s fairly rapid,” he says. “It’s two days, beginning to end, and you get the satisfaction of a finished product.”

He has been interested in woodworking since he was eight years old, and took some college courses as his retirement approached.

“My wife and daughter asked for rolling pins,” he recalls. “That got me started on turning wood.”

He had made several pens and brought some to a meeting on campus when a colleague asked where he could purchase some to use as gifts from Windsor while travelling overseas. Weis sold him six, and suddenly, he says, his hobby became a commercial enterprise.

He has made pens of local woods like ash, cherry, hickory, and walnut, as well as exotic tropicals like ebony, mahogany, osage orange, and gonçalo alves.

“I like to look for pieces that have an interesting grain,” says Weis.

Items available in the Campus Bookstore range from $30 for a simple twist mechanism to $100 for a boxed set of a pencil and fountain pen. Find the current stock on the online catalogue under “Weis Wood.”

Marketing co-ordinator Martin Deck says the pens are a perfect fit for the bookstore’s clientele.

“These beautiful handmade writing implements are indispensable for those who love the tactile sensation of putting thought to paper, and make a great gift for anyone who appreciates the finer things,” he says.

Weis also teaches classes in wood turning at Windsor’s Lee Valley Tools store, including projects September 30 and October 12 that enable participants to take home their finished pens and pencils.