Check out this great story from WBIR in Knoxville.

Click here to see the interview.

(WBIR-Alcoa) He’s already a successful businessman who has now transformed a hobby into yet another business: making unusual wooden pens.

“I started wood working probably in elementary school. I made a log cabin for the social science fair and won first place doing that,” Russ Bell said.

Russ Bell works for Alcoa Aluminum on the automotive expansion as a Metallurgical Engineer. He owns his own printing business. And he makes wooden pens with personality.

“I have a friend who smokes a lot of cigars and he gave me a cigar band and said you should try putting this on a pen and I did that so now I make pens that have a cigar theme and also a liquor theme, a whiskey theme,” he said.

He’s not really a cigar smoker or a whiskey drinker.

“The whiskey labels, you have to go to the liquor store and buy and buy a little bottle of whiskey for that. And then I have friends who drink it,” he said with a laugh.

The process starts with a block of wood.

“It’s usually some kind of exotic wood from Africa or Asia or South America, wood that looks cool and coordinates with the cigar band or the whiskey label I’m going to put on it. Or I’ll get a barrel stave from a whiskey barrel and cut that into pieces,” he explained. “Drill them. Turn them on a lathe. Sand them nice and smooth. Put an oil finish on them and then I’ll put the cigar band or the whiskey label on it and then seal it and assemble it.”

The pens are real working pens. But don’t worry if they run out of ink.

“Open it up. Take out the spent cartridge, go to the office supply store and get another one and put it in. Just like any other pen. No special ink cartridges required,” he said.

Making pens, owning a business, and working at Alcoa leaves no time for marketing or selling on his own.

“We sell exclusively through Liz Beth and Company in West Knoxville,” he said.

Those three jobs keep him super busy and he’s also an amateur astronomer and certified scuba diver.

“Sleeping is for wimps.”

Russ Bell is no wimp, just a talented guy with a lot of interests.