This post has been one that has been in progress for a couple of months now, but one that I'm really excited to share.
As I've noted before on the blog, living in the same town as the fellas from Karas Kustoms grants me the pleasure of stopping in the shop to chat, have lunch, and simply shoot the breeze with the guys. A cool group of friendly and talented dudes. Don't let the machine shop vibe convince you otherwise...
With the announcement on Kickstarter that the guys are finished with the Retrakt and shipping them out, the timing of the post is pretty good I'd say. A little reflection on the process and a glimpse into some of the behind the scenes that made it possible. The post will likely be primarily pictures, so enjoy!
Tucked on an off street in an industrial section of Mesa, AZ is a little shop (soon to be a bigger shop in an upcoming move) where all the magic happens. Inside there are lots of big machines doing all sorts of awesome things. There is even an old truck that is slowly but surely coming back to life. Pens are just a part of what they do and there are always other jobs they are working on for clients of theirs. From custom automobile grill ornaments for an old Rambler to gun parts, they're always doing something "Kustom".
The pens start out as long rods of metal 1/2" in diameter that get fed through a huge machine. This machine has a large spindle with a variety of bits and tools that are programmed to cut, shave, shape, (and knurl) the pens and their parts. It is super fascinating to see this in action! Dan Bishop describes this as "the pens being born".
Now, the metal doesn't just go in and out pops a pen. There are numerous stages the pen goes through and even different machines that do a variety of different jobs to end up with the finished product. Even though the pens are made by machines, each one is given the attention of one (or many) of the guys at the shop.
One of the cool parts about the process is a special jig that they developed to machine the space and screw holes for where the clip goes. They load the top sections into a tray of sorts that then gets put into a CNC machine. Awesome...
A shot of the "clickers":
Once the pens go through the machining and finishing, they need to be assembled and prepped for shipping. I got some shots of assembly of a few of their models. I wasn't able to make it for a shoot during the final finishing process of the Retrakt, but the pictures from the Kickstarter campaign as well as my review (as well as the reviews of my fellow bloggers) of the finished product speak for themselves.
Around the shop there are even some early unfinished examples of "DUDEK" goods in use...
It was such a pleasure to stop by the shop during the process of the Retrakt being made, and I hope the pictures did justice to the work that goes into getting them finished. Thanks Bill!
Here are a few more gems from the visits: