By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The members of the Grapeland Independent School District Board of Trustees received several gifts in honor of School Board Appreciation Month during their regularly scheduled monthly meeting held at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22 in the Grapeland High School library.

Among the gifts received by the board members were ink pens made by GHS students Dylan Duhon, Saruhen Velasquez and Jacob Barbosa, who explained to the board the process of creating the gifts.

According to Duhon, the first step involves choosing the wood from which the pen will be made. Choices included cedar, cypress, mesquite and pecan.

“First, we get a five-inch piece and cut it down to size. After we get the five-inch piece, we cut it down to two and one-eighth,” Duhon said. “You might wonder why we leave extra wood; it’s just in case the corners start chipping. We can still go down and finish the pen.”

After the wood is reduced to the desired size, a seven millimeter hole is drilled to accommodate the inner tube of the pen, which is glued in place before the pen is placed on a lathe.

Velasquez then took the floor to continue the explanation of the pen-making process.

“We have three tools that we use to trim down the wood once it’s on the lathe,” he said. “We have a gouge, which we use to cut down the roughest part of the wood. After we cut it down some, we use the skew to trim it down even more.”

The third tool, as Velasquez explained, is used to create designs and shapes on the pen.

“We use a certain speed for trimming it down, which is 1,800 RPM,” Velasquez continued. “We switch it down to 840 and use these little sanding sheets to get it nice and smooth to start the process of gluing and polishing.”

Rounding out the presentation was Barbosa.

“Once we get done with those two processes, we move to the glue,” he explained.

According to Barbosa, the glues used are “just normal CA glues,” similar to superglue.

“We start first with the thin CA glue, and we put two squirts on our paper towel,” explained Barbosa. “While (the pen) is on the lathe turning at a slow speed, we just gently smooth it onto the wood.”

An activator is then sprayed onto the wood.

“Then, we move to the second glue. We’ll put three different other coats on that, and we do that all back to back. In between, we’ll also spray the activator on there,” he said.

A designated tool is then used to remove excess glue and make the pen easier to work with.

“After that, we move to the micro mesh,” Barbosa explained. “We start at the roughest and then move down to the finer one.”

The micro mesh sheets are responsible for polishing the wood.

“Once we’re done with all of that, we move to the finish,” Barbosa continued. “We take the wood off the lathe and add the polish on there.”

The wood is then returned to the lathe, and more polish is applied “to bring out the shine.”

A pen press is then used to combine all of the components of the pen.

According to GHS Ag instructor Gary Graham, the pens were made using local wood.

Student ambassadors from Grapeland Elementary School were on hand to help principal Cassie Satterwhite present the board members with tokens of appreciation such as kites made by the students in kindergarten and the school’s after-school care program.

Each of the board members also received a coaster emblazoned with the district’s logo made by Teri Fraunberger, Director of Student Affairs. Gift certificates to Little Mexico in Palestine were also presented on behalf of the Grapeland Junior High students.

Following the meeting, the board members enjoyed a steak dinner organized by administrative assistant Kathy Richmond.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.