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Where Rugged Vintage Style Meets Modern Design. Proudly Made in America.

18 Feb '16

Fountain Pen Time!

Ok, I'll admit, this has been LONG overdue.  From the early days of the Twist Bullet Pencil I've had the thought (and many of you have commented) that a fountain pen attachment is a must.  I knew little about them, now I actually know a little and thanks to some great customers/friends I'm finally comfortable enough to make this a reality.  

We've got a start, a very crude one, but it seems like the basics are in place.  The main requirement that the "tube" remain the same has been met so anyone with a Twist tube can now use either a pencil, ballpoint or fountain pen.  Over the next few weeks a little nip here and tuck there and we should be ready to add a third option to the Twist line up.

Check out the first prototype video pinned on our Facebook page here and give us a like while you are at it.  https://www.facebook.com/metalshopct/videos/577859732379075/

02 Sep '15

Some Twist Bullet Pencil Reviews...

Its been about a year since we first introduced the Twist Bullet Pencil.  This time last year we had our pre-production prototypes in place and were beginning the build out of the Kickstarter campaign.  I figured I would put together a list of reviews written about the Twist.  If I missed anyone please let me know and I'll add it to the post.

The Gentleman Stationer

Reverenced Writing

Wood Clinched 

Pen Paper Pencil

The Finer Point

Comfortable Shoes Studio

Pens 'N' Coffee

Super Fun Time

Stay The Course

Early photo used for the Kickstarter campaign

08 May '15

What is it?

So what is this thing called a Bullet Pencil? How does it work and why do I need it?

The short answer.

The Twist Bullet Pencil is a modern & improved take on a vintage pencil holder. A portable, pocket-friendly pencil holder that protects your pencil and your pocket. Now say that 3 times fast!

Now for a little more detail.

Essentially, a bullet pencil is a fancy pencil holder, designed to keep your pencil point safe when not in use. It’s really that simple. Bullet pencils first emerged in Britain in the the late 1890‘s using spent .303 rifle cartridges to house a small pencil. During the holiday season of 1914, Princess Mary gifted British soldiers a care package containing a pencil made from a spent .303 cartridge case along with other essentials like cigarettes and pipe tobacco. With thousands of British soldiers now familiar with this novel idea of a pencil housed in a bullet casing it was just a matter of time before the concept was given a commercial application as advertising and promotional pieces. Between the 1930 and 1950 hundreds of thousands of bullet pencils were made (though now with “bullets” that weren’t really spent bullet casings.) In fact they were so common they were handed out as freely as business cards are handed out today. The American version of the bullet pencil was typically a plastic or wood tube with a small aluminum molded or drawn “bullet” that held the pencil in. A quick Ebay search of vintage bullet pencils will bring up pages of results for some really cool examples of these items.

Original Bullet Pencils Housed in Spent Rifle Cartridges


Mid 1900's Vintage Advertising Bullet Pencils


Why did we re-make it?

When I first learned about the vintage Bullet Pencils, I picked up a few and really took a liking to them. I thought the vintage bullet pencils were fun and a simple way to always have something to write plus they are a great conversation starter. Metal Shop's focus is finding cool vintage products and putting a modern touch on them. So, with the vintage bullet pencil being cool, unique and conversation pieces, we found a perfect product to "modernize" and add to our selection of products.

What makes the modern version different?

Instead of plastic or wood tubes we use machined aluminum turned on a CNC router. Instead of a simple drawn aluminum bullet we offer two machined versions in your choice of brass or aluminum. The next improvement is what makes it the “Twist”. The traditional bullet pencil had a friction fit, the Twist (hence the name) uses a series of threads to both insert the pencil nub into the bullet as well as the bullet into the tube. The best part is the Twist Bullet Pencil is 100% made in America!

The Modern Improved Twist Bullet Pencil (Photo by TJ Gosgrove)

How does it work?

Simply unscrew the bullet from the tube, turn it around and insert the non-pencil into in the tube, screw tight and write. It’s that easy.

Why do I need it?

You don’t need to be a pencil fanatic to own a Twist Bullet Pencil. If you are a fan of well crafted products made in America; if you are always looking for something to write with or if you need a truly unique gift for someone special, the Twist Bullet Pencil is for you.

Alternate answer from one of our loyal customers, "you don't need it, but you want it!"

29 Apr '15

Turning the Tassel - Give a Unique Graduation Gift

Graduation season is upon us with all the pomp and circumstance. College graduates are preparing to move on to the real world, while high school graduates are preparing for their first taste of independence away from Mom and Dad. Graduations are grand life milestones and should be recognized and celebrated.

With celebrating this milestone, the age old dilemma, whats the perfect graduation gift that symbolizes this transition? A quick search for graduation gifts turns up the same time tested gifts. A briefcase for that first job, gift cards or maybe even an alarm clock (can’t sleep in on the first day on the job). Think of these like the tie or dozen golf balls for dad on Fathers Day. Time tested for sure, but predictable, mundane and far from a unique graduation gift to be cherished for decades to come.

A truly unique gift for your graduate is something that none of his or her friends would receive, a graduation gift that is a conversation starter (perfect for beginner networkers). A unique gift is something that isn’t mass produced or marketed, a gift that evokes a response that is from the heart. Buy a unique graduation gift that gets a real “wow!” and not just “Nice, thanks.”

Of course, we're going to recommend our Twist Bullet Pencil (or Pen too). We at Metal Shop also recommend finding something from one of the many small entrepreneurs creating products that aren’t on the top of the google search for "gifts for grads." You’ll not only evoke a response that is truly from the heart, but you will support small businesses and the Made in America movement. So search around. Find out where your graduate's passions lie and find them that unique graduation gift that fits the importance of the occasion.

Typical and mundane above.  Unique and extraordinary below.

17 Apr '15

A Few of my Favorite Things

Over the past two years of building Metal Shop I’ve been lucky enough to meet some some outstanding entrepreneurs. Through social media channels and through great events like the American Field Market, small craft makers can come together, learn from each other and develop strong partnerships. This is a highlight of four brands, each distinct in their own right, that embody the vintage meets modern, rugged yet refined image that I strive for with Metal Shop. Each produce cool and unique gifts for men (and women too) and most importantly, each make their product in the USA!

Duke Cannon Supply Co.

The makers of the Big Ass Brick of Soap AKA America’s Most American Brand (or as I like to call it, the coolest gift you can get your brother-in-law). These guy’s not only put a unique tongue in cheek spin on marketing their products but also re-define what a bar of soap is (as you can see below). With each Facebook or Instagram post the fellas at Duke Cannon continue to impress me with their marketing savvy targeting the “manly man” demographic. The product is top notch (I prefer the “Smells like Productivity” bar with its hint of menthol), packaging is A+ and these guy’s put their money where their mouth is donating to a number of veteran and troop charities including Honor Flight. Just remember, Duke Cannon doesn’t dine with Vegans and is no fan of Banana Republic (see what I mean about the marketing)

www.dukecannon.com

Jack Donnelly

A fellow American Field vendor and Kickstarter Alum, Greg Donnelly is the driving force behind Khaki maker Jack Donnelly (named for his grandfather). “Kahkis” became popular with civilians after World War II and now are a staple in casual mens apparel. According to Greg, he felt he could do it better. Since most people have little to no idea what they are wearing he felt it was time to create a khaki that you didn’t need to turn and see the label to know what you were wearing. Making the khaki a quintessential piece of the refined man’s wardrobe. Just don’t call them “chinos.”

www.jackdonnelly.com

Compass Rose Apparel

Veteran owned, the guy’s over at Compass Rose Apparel have put together an amazing flannel shirt completely made in America (even down to the buttons). Flannel has been around since the 1500’s and I guess the plaid flannel shirt can be called a vintage item (if the 90’s Nirvana & Pearl Jam look is considered vintage?) Either way, the fellas at Compass Rose Apparel are doing the flannel shirt serious justice and really hit that rugged yet refined sweet spot. They set out to make a shirt tough enough to takes the abuse of a long day on a tug boat but wouldn’t look like a work shirt at dinner that evening. For Compass Rose the idea is simple, its about being yourself and finding yourself....or as they say, Find your true north.

www.compassroseapparel.com

Stonehill Design

My buddy Jason scours the flea markets for vintage items that he breathes new “light” into. From vintage desk fans, typewriters and telephones Jason works his magic and creates amazing industrial style lighting for the home. Jason is a true craftsman and has a vision for creating truly unique products. His work is rugged, his work is also refined enough for any home. Stonehill Design strives to create unique, hight quality lighting and timeless designs.

www.stonehill-design.com

This is just four brands of many. Four brands which hit on all cylinders, Made in the USA, timeless, rugged, refined product. Vintage flair yet with modern takes. All truly unique gifts for men.