Featuring Matt Ross Wood Design
As a maker, I have it pretty easy. Once I create a print, I can reproduce it relatively easy. Major props to those hands-on folks. We’re talkin’ woodworkers, leathercrafters, seamstresses…All of the creators that really put in the hours on single pieces. I wanted to give a shoutout to a friend of mine that found passion in turning old skateboard decks into functional works of art. Matt Ross out of London, Ontario spends hours on each handcrafted project, and it really shows.
I was pumped when Ross was down to turn two of my old decks into a writing tool of awesomeness. Ross let me pick the pen features and then picked up my decks to make it happen.
It’s really interesting to hear about other peoples’ passions in creating and I asked Matt how he got started. “When I was 13, I built my own mini ramp by myself, and after that, I wanted to get more into woodworking. I started watching construction shows and slowly got more into it” Ross explained. Worth mentioning, that it must have been a sick ramp because Ross still rips to this day.
Ross continues “I was at Canadian Tire one day and the Mastercraft mini lathe was on sale and I decided to buy it. I had no idea what he was going to do with it.” Soon after Ross picked up that lathe, he got into pen making out of exotic woods. After a few successful projects, Ross was chilling with a buddy one night and they thought it’d be sick to use skateboard decks instead of other woods. Anyone who skates knows that old decks are easy to come by, which aside from being totally awesome, Ross can save on raw material costs as well.
Ross notes “People talk about the art behind what I do, I just tend to make things that have a function.”
I gave Ross two decks. The first one was a brand I tried to start back in high school. NCM Skateboards. I silk-screened blank decks and shirts to help pay for college, so turning this deck into something I can use every day had sentimental value. NCM Skateboards was sort of my “lemonade stand” back then, where I learned the basics of a side hustle. The other deck was just an old RipNDip that I had laying around, but it’s pretty sick too, right?!
When you see how much goes into a handmade item, you have a real appreciation for the final product. I’m not able to show you the hours of stripping the old decks and slicing them down into small pieces, which takes hours (Believe me, I heard all about it from Ross). Following that, there’s a LOT of cutting and glueing to create 2 blocks which are now the segmented pen blanks, this is about a 2-3 day process which accounts for drying time.
When those are dry, a perfectly drilled hole needs to go through the segments. The drill holes need to be precise for the pen kit to fit for the pen to work flawlessly.
The segmented pen blanks are mounted on the pen mandrel, it looks like it’s almost together, but those metal pieces are actually bushings and they’re the same size of the pen kit that’s going to fit onto the pen blanks.
While it’s still mounted, it’s polished and finished while it’s still mounted on the pen mandrel. During this process, the pen begins to actually look like a pen. At this time, the pen still has a ways to go, the pen kit still needs to be installed onto the segmented pen blank.
Keep in mind, this whole process can go sideways at any step of the way. Ross mentioned it gets a bit nerve-racking because hours of work can be thrown away. The further you get into a project, the scarier it gets because there’s always a chance you could throw away the hours you already put into the project if the segmented pen blanks crack or chip during this process.
These handcrafted pens take about 12-15 hours to finish and the going rate for these ranges from $80 to $150. The pens that Ross craft use popular premium pen cartridges from brands like Parker & Cross so your pen can last a lifetime with refills easy to come by.
Matt has been getting into a lot of other handmade items, like light switches, bowls, and even lamps (yes desk lamps made out of skateboard decks!). Check out some of his other work by hitting up his Instagram.