Critique my idea for DIY fountain pen storage

I have recently become fascinated with fountain pens, and have already acquired 8. I also have a rather fancy wooden desk pen holder for 9 pens. I can see the time coming when I will need more storage. So here is my idea:

Small wooden bases, for modular addition as more pens arrive. Sections of PVC pipe (1" external, that has 13/16" internal diameter seems to be the right size), cut on the base end with maybe a 5 degree angle so that if this gadget is hanging on the wall the tubes will have a slight rise and pens won’t be tempted to fall out. Not sure if I should leave the outside end of the PVC tubes square or use the same angle there. Bore out the outside end of the tubes a little to remove the sharp inside edge. Make a jig so I can use a router to rout out exactly the right size holes in the base and give more glue area; set the pipe pieces into the base with glue (which I hope will be enough strength).

Arrange the tubes on the base at an offset rather than inline so they can be closer together, maybe 3-2-3 for the first base. There would be two shapes of bases, one for 3-2-3 tubes, one for 2-3-2 tube arrangements, and the two shapes would nest together.

Things I haven’t figure out yet: cushioning of some kind inside the tubes, so that the pens don’t get scratched? I can probably figure out some way to buff the insides smooth, but they’re still hard, and fountain pens can be susceptible to scratches. Not sure if this is a concern. Also, some structure into which I can slot each new small base as it is finished/needed. Or some other relatively seamless way (where the end result looks good) to add new small bases over time, where I don’t have to take the existing ones down, take all the pens out, and attach them together some way before rehanging the whole shebang.

Reactions? Ideas?

I offer no opinion on your plans, only to say that there are some of us with the same problem.

I make pens, including fountain pens. I’ve more pens than could be used by myself and everyone I know. I’m not alone with this problem.

There are a multitude of pen display products. Here’s one source

I understand the desire to build something, even if there is an inexpensive ready made product out there (like pens). If nothing else, you might see a design that you like better.

I went simple. I use a Harbor Freight-like (slightly better upscale version) machinist tool box

but I’m not looking for visual display. I have some fancy inks in the top and all in all it makes a nice if slightly larger addition to the top of my desk.

Thanks both of you for those links, there are some nice and useful items there, but all of them are for things on the desk or some other flat surface, which is not what I want. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I have very limited desktop space and plenty of room on the wall, and that is my main motivation for making something that can be hung.

So I’m hoping that some other DIYers will check in with clever suggestions and ideas. I found some clear acrylic tubes online that might be more elegant than painted PVC, I’m still thinking about that. I’ve now done some sketches that give me some pretty good ideas for going forward.

For hanging I would Google “hanging knife displays” and see what it inspired in me. Rather than the tubes I would go elastic as the holder allowing me more options to rearrange or change it in the future. And being notorious for recycling things I would maybe look at an old Franklin Mint display (bigger coin operations sometimes have stacks of the darn things after they scrap/melt the medals) and use that as my base/starting point. One of those could easily be turned hanging even if it didn’t start that way.

Something like this would be pretty easy to make, I think.


Well, I really don’t have that level of woodworking skills to make something that looks that good. Although it is a nice idea.

The other thing is that, although I have a reasonable amount of wall space, it’s only “plenty of room” compared to what I have available on the desk or other flat surfaces. The reason I like the tubes facing out idea is that it gets a lot of pens in a relatively small space, easy to pull one out to use it, and although the whole pen is not on display, it should be pretty easy to tell one pen from another when they are in the tubes.

I also thought about buying a pen tray (like the ones that are part of that display case), they cost about $7 for a tray that holds 36 pens, cutting it up into individual sections, and using those for the insides of the tubes, to cushion the pens. Another idea is to use small z-clips to hang the modular sections, it should be fairly easy to make them line up properly, and allow me to pull a whole section off the wall if I need to for some reason, and drop it back on when I’m done.

I’m getting pretty jazzed about this idea, so I think I’m going to go ahead with it. Yesterday I bought about 5 feet of PVC pipe for $2.10, that will get me started.

I was thinking you’d start with a premade shadow box like this and glue in the shelves and dividers. But I’m interested to see what you come up with. Post pics when it’s done!


Oh, yes, now I see what you mean. That does sound pretty easy. Let me cogitate on that.

Well, I just found these (a grid of 24 holes in foam, 2" thick) online, that might work. I’m going down to the store tomorrow to check them out and see how well they hold my skinny pens and my fat pens. I think I could construct a tall narrow box for two of these (they come two in a package) that could be made to either lie flat or to slant out at the bottom, and I have just the place to put it. That should last me for a long, long time, with a lot less labor and less money.

I bought these today. In fact the holes are not deep enough to hold the pens securely, but they come two to a box so I can saw the bottom off of one of them, and then glue that one on top of the other one, and the depth will be just right for pens. 44 pens in a 4"x12" space for around $14 is pretty good. I am considering building a nice simple box for the resulting structure, partly to hide the possibly messy join between the two sections.

How will you hang that?