Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

Sent to the Pen-Intentionally

I discovered another use for my Taig micro-lathe. I haven’t tried it yet but I am assembling the parts to do so. It’s a very special niche of wood turning call pen turning. There is a whole mini industry set up to supply parts and kits for pen turning and a large variety of similar items with turned handles.

I always considered it a bit frivolous to be turning little bits of wood and a variety of other materials into mechanical pens and pencils. Boy! was I wrong. My recent research proved to me that supplying the pen making craft and associated other similar things like bottle stopper kits is now a very serious business.

My daughter and son-in-law for Christmas bought me a how-to book, an expensive pen blank vice (for drilling blanks vertically through the center), about 3 or 4 exotic wood pen blanks and one (1) kit of pen internal parts, point and cap. Hmmm… all that to make one pen? I think it was a teaser.

Several major woodworking supply chains are selling this stuff big time. It must be very popular or they wouldn’t invest so much space and effort. If you have read this far, you are probably getting interested or are already involved.

My first problem is that I would need a wood turning lathe. My family knows I have four lathes. They don’t know that they are metal turning lathes. Well, they all CAN turn wood (and have) but not exactly like a made-for-wood-turning lathe. That is, except the Taig.

A good heavy made for wood cast iron lathe may be the best tool in the long run ($400-$600) but the Taig certainly is capable and because it is without all the gears and lead screws, it looks and can perform like a micro wood lathe. Good enough to give pen making a try. In fact it is extremely easy to adapt the machine into a very proper pen turning lathe and use the mandrel needed to hold the pen blanks. (I’ll show how in another write up.)

There is a wood turner’s tool rest available from Taig Tools for the lathe. I ordered one for testing and will offer it in my store. There are a few other bits and pieces available for working wood on the Taig micro-lathe. I’ll discover if ¼ horse power is enough strength. I’ll be taking light cuts on the roughing for sure.

I need several lathe tools to do the cutting. I have my eye on a nice three piece HSS starter set. All told, my gift is going to cost me an additional 1.5X the original gift cost. Not bad and I already feel good that it is something I will like to do exploring all the other variations in materials and finished objects. The finished items will be good craft show fodder and great gift items.

Yep. I’ve been framed. I am innocent, sent to the pen intentionally.

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