Practical Skills: How to Make Your Own Quill

No matter how the world may look, where we may end up, I will always wish to write. I personally plan on stockpiling pens for the possibility of collapse, but you should never plan on something for life that you do no know how to make yourself. Wise words from Ben. So, here I am, to teach you how to make a quill, so you shall never be without something to write with.

A goose or turkey flight feather will probably serve you best.
When you have selected your feather, you’ll need to treat it to make it much harder to break. The key to that is to make the feather shaft hot. I’ve heard that sand works the best, so, first you need sand! You’ll want to heat up sand in the oven at 350 degrees, or over a campfire, as the case may be. The sand needs to be heated all the way through. (about 15-20 minutes) Once you have deemed it hot enough, remove from heat and stick the feather in the sand. Be careful to leave out the “feathery” part of the feather and only heat up the shaft. Once the sand cools, your feather should be ready to cut.

A small sharp knife is useful for this tricky part of the process. a penknife works best, go figure. Cut the tip of the quill off, sort of in a slope or diagonal. Additional cuts are needed, and this truly is the tricky part. A small slit is needed at the tip of the quill and on the opposite side of the slit a small fingernail shape needs to be cut out.

Confused yet? So, the end of the quill should be sloping with a slit at the end. Cut along both sides of the quill to form a point. It should look like the tip of a fountain pen. Sharpen the end of the quill by cutting at an angle on the outside of the tip. You’ll want to get that part down, as that is something that will need to be done on a regular basis. And there are you! A quill pen ready for your use! You might want to get rid of the plume on one side of the feather (the “feathery” bits) to make it easier to hold the quill.

Well, that’s it! It’s not an exact science, of course, do what feels right to you and you’ll probably end up with a fine quill. Any questions?
Come back soon for tips on dye for your new quill pen!

-Miranda Vivian

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5 Comments

  1. August 10, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    […] While not an essential skill, the making of ink will certainly come in handy if you happen to have a quill! […]

  2. May 15, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    […] for primitive ink.  It didn’t take me long to find a turkey feather to carve into a quill and begin scrawling in the beautiful pink […]

  3. benjamin said,

    May 31, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    how do u make ink i went to this one place that said walnut shell ink and that didn’t work any

  4. klugliani said,

    March 7, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    walnut shells will NOT work UNLESS thay are the BLACK WALNUT variety. i learned this the hard way.

  5. Cindy said,

    October 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Does the sand have to be over a fire or can it be in an oven?


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