The “Penmanship” of David Koons 

by Sara Jane Richter

David Koons is a down-to-earth, practical, fearless, and creative man.  He welcomes change and accepts all challenges.  The son of a US Air Force father and born in England, Koons has traveled the world and the US, served his country, had a professional business career in the world of computers, and has rustled up his share of meals from a food truck.  Nowadays though, this retired veteran lives in Hennessey and keeps busy as a craftsman, a “maker” as such folks are called today.

After serving six years in the US Navy, he entered the business world as a computer genius and contractor, operating tandem computers, the first main frame machines.  He has lived all over the world and the US, residing in Colorado, Nebraska, and Washington, while working in a high tech, high pressure world.  While working as a computer consultant at Oklahoma’s Tinker Air Force Base in 1991, he met his wife, Shirley Kelly, originally from Hennessey.

The business rat race finally made retirement look good, so he and Shirley moved to Hennessey in 2001, just in time to experience the horrible ice storm of that year.  The Koonses determined to travel the nation, enjoy each other’s company, and see the sights. For an income, they developed their own food truck, the Long Branch Saloon which they frequently positioned at the intersection of Highways 81 and 51 on the north end of Main Street.  Their catering and concession business has taken them to many events, such as craft shows and annual community celebrations.  For 17 years, they worked 6 months a year following the event trail in states such as Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.  This schedule made for a fast-paced life.  Settling down in Oklahoma was just what the couple needed—and wanted.

David always searched for new interests and hobbies.  About 25 years ago, his father-in-law got into making pens—writing instruments—and the activity peaked David’s imagination and creativity.  He soon followed suit.  After honing his craft to fine tune his efforts, he makes hand-made pens.  Now, he even has his own company—Windwalker Lathe Works—which he operates from his own workshop behind his house on Oklahoma Street. 

Koons takes pride in the fact that the pens’ components are all made in the USA and that he spearheads a veteran-owned and -operated enterprise.  He takes many steps to complete a pen.  First comes a 5” x 3” block of wood or Alumilite, an acrylic that comes in a myriad of colors; Koons drills a small hole through these pen blanks.  A brass tube containing the pen’s mechanism gets placed and glued inside the hole.  After securing the brass tube, Koons turns the wood on his American-made lathe to achieve the pen shape.  Then, the craftsman sands the shape to a smooth surface and polishes the wooden pen barrels smooth and shiny by applying several coats of long-lasting friction lacquer. 

Clients can ask that a logo, design, or image become part of the finished product; the addition of a symbol of a sports team, military insignia, favorite animal, or ranch brand make the pen a one-of-a-kind, highly personalized item.  For example, the pen recently presented to Bert Gritz boasted the fire department insignia.  If a customer does not want a pen with a wooden or plastic barrel, he or she can have one made from embossed aluminum or even a rifle shell casing.

Koons doesn’t find it odd that his favorite hobby is pen making as he’s always loved the scent and feel of sawdust.  He gets to design, create, and play daily in his personal woodshop.  As he suffers from insomnia, he’ll often rise early, early in the morning, feed his dogs, walk to his shop, and spend upwards of 12 hours inside, using his hands creating unique pieces of art.  

The end product never fails to amaze him as the wood grain shows its beauty under the many coats of lacquer; Koons says that he’s never created the same pen twice.  He claims that the time investment—at least two days per pen—is well worth the effort.  Each pen is useable, yet practical, and each comes with a five-year warranty.

David Koons takes great pride in creating his unique writing instruments as they always make people smile and marvel at his handiwork when they buy one—or better yet, receive one as an unexpected gift.  If you’re interested, he’d probably love to give scheduled tours of his shop where you can see the magic happen.  After all, we still need pens nowadays, and having one specially made with love and respect cannot be found just everywhere.  David Koons possesses a powerful brand of “penmanship.”