Harrells use antlers to create beautiful pens

By Justin Schuver

Like many people in Bainbridge, Benny Harrell and his father, Ronnie, are avid deer hunters. It’s no surprise, then, that they’ve amassed quite a collection of massive deer antlers. However, the question soon arose about what to do with the leftover smaller antlers.

Benny Harrell said that they started to keep those extra antlers in buckets in their workshop, and eventually there got to be so many that they had to come up with something to do with them.

“We came up with the idea of putting all the excess antlers to good use by making custom pens from them,” he said.

Harrell explained that his father is an active woodworker, and he has built a number of things together with his father, including deerstands and furniture. It didn’t take them long to come up with the idea of using those same woodworking tools to create antler-based objects as well.

Harrell said that the portion of the pen that is made from the deer antler is called the “blank,” and can be roughly described as the part that is held when writing. The blanks of deer antlers — or ocassionally bits of wood — are typically two inches in length and about 3/4 of an inch in diameter, depending on the style of pen that is desired.

A hole is bored in the center of the blank, in order to accept an epoxied brass bushing. The blanks are then mounted on a lathe, where they are turned to the dimensions needed, and eventually sanded and finished on the lathe while still spinning.

The rest of the assembly is completed by pressing precision-machined metal pen parts into the finished blanks. Harrell said they use super glue as a permanent bond for the most important components. The pens also include a Cross or Parker ink cartridge, depending on the style of pen. All pens have a 24-karat gold plate, or chrome-silver finish.

Harrell said the pens vary in shape and style. Some of the most common types they have created include a traditional pen shape or a “rifle bullet/shell” shape, and pens with deer antlers for the blanks while others have wood for the blanks.

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