2. "Kit" Pens - These are pens made by individual pen turners using parts that come in an unassembled kit. You can purchase a kit pen for all types of pens: ballpoint, rollerball and fountain. And in just the last few years with the advent of portable touch screens, "Stylus" pens are also now available in kit form. The kit includes all the individual parts needed to assemble a pen (cap, clip, bands, finials and nibs, etc.), but with only a pair of brass tubes for the main sections of the pen. Then to complete the pen, the turner selects a material to use for the barrels (which is known as "blanks"), then after drilling and gluing in the supplied tubes, the material is turned on a lathe to the shape and size to fit the pen style. Then the parts are assembled to the finished barrel to create a completed pen. The advantage of a kit pen is that it allows an entry level turner to make a very nice pen. And, just like manufactured pens, kit pens can vary in price and quality, where the price is mostly dictated by the cost of the kit and the cost of the kit dictated by the quality or finish of the parts included. Most all of my rollerball and ballpoint pens are "kit" pens. And while I've made a few of the kit fountain pens when I first got into pen making, and still make them to order, most all of the fountain pens you will find on my website are (fully) custom fountain pens (as in #4).
3. "Semi-custom" Pens - These pens are made using some of the parts from a kit pen and combined with other custom made non-kit parts that are made from scratch by the turner. An example of a semi-custom pen would be some of the ballpoint and rollerball pens that come with my desk sets. I'll use only the basic hardware from the kit (metal nib, band tubes and pen mechanism), along with my hand-made parts.
4. "Custom" Pens - The last type or category of fountain pens are custom pens. These pens are made using all hand-made parts where the only manufactured parts used would be the clip (if one is used), accent bands, the nib assembly (the metal writing tip, feed and internal housing), and any internal parts for some of the various inking styles (like pistion or button fillers). The main parts of the pen (the cap, barrel, and front-section) would all be custom-made by the pen-maker. And just like the other types of pens, the prices for custom pens can vary widely. But for different reason. Since these pens are made by individual pen makers and not a large manufacturer, the prices can be dictated more by how well known the pen maker may be. Therefore a more well know pen maker can command a higher price for his pens than someone not well known or just starting out. Because of this, I don't think you can't fairly judge the quality of a custom pen just by the price charged.
My Fountain pens... All of my fountain pens listed in the "Custom Fountain Pens" section are the latter "custom" pens as described above in section 4. If any of the pens are "Semi-custom" (made with any kit pen parts), they will be clearly noted as such in their specifications and materials section.
NOTE: So as not to get a rash of emails from various pen designers on my categorizing definitions listed above, I'd like to add the following excerpt:
FIRST... That this is just the way I categorize fountain pens, and that I offer these definitions as a guide for viewing, selecting, and purchasing a fountain pen for those that may not be fully familiar with the various types of pens soit may help them make an informed decision about the pen they are purchasing. So that if you goal is to purchase a "full custom" fountain pen, it might help you know what to look for. But as always, if you're not sure, it is always wise to ask the question so you know which of the categories a pen may fall into. I think you will find that most pen maker are very willing to answer any question a potential customer may have to help them be fully informed before they make their purchase.
SECOND... Although you can usually use the "tells" stated above to differentiate between semi and full custom pens, there are however custom pen designers that do make their own metal parts, so the "fine line" between the two categories is getting finer as more people get into designing their own pen parts. Therefore sometimes it can be hard to tell a semi-custom pen from a true fully custom pen.
THIRD... That I am not making any claim as to the quality or value difference between the various types of fountain pens. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a kit or a semi-custom fountain pen. Many of the newer kit pens that have come on the market in the last few years are very high quality pens with durable finishes and better quality nibs.
If you have any question about any of my pens, please don't hesitate to contact me. Thanks...JEB