Ramblin' Dan's Workshop

The Sanctum of Fine Art and Invention

Pen Turning - Day 1

pen-1I finially got all my chips together (poker, I think) and decided I had enough to make my first pen turning. That's it in the picture to the right.

I wrote an earlier Shop Notes article how I had been sent to the pen intentionally last Christmas when my daughter and S-I-L gave me a pen turning parts package, a nice end drill vice for the blanks and a package of four wood turning blanks of several types of exotic wood.

All I needed (back then) was a buch of other fixin's and tools to turn the blanks.

I looked at my Taig micro lathe and realized it could make a wonderful pen blank turning lathe. I ordered several tool rests for wood turning so I could also put the tool rest in my on line store. I sold both before I had the chance to use the first one. Now I have more in stock. I bought the mandral that goes between centers fron a woodworking store but I also bought the material to make more of my own if I have too. They are not hard for a machinist to make. You can see it in the pictures.

While at the woodworking store I also bought a nice miniature set of woodturning tools. Very adequate for micro lathe turning. I didn't show them in this article. I also purchased a handfull of aditional pen internal parts kits as the kids only gave me one set. That is how I was able to make two pens this first day.

Follow along as I show the second pen under production.

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 This is the second half of the first block. I just had to trim a bit off the end. The block needs to be about an eighth inch longer than the brass tube that will be in the center.  This is a special vice that self centers when changing and holding the wood blocks for end drilling (once it has been initially centered and clamped in place).
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 A little off center but no bad on this one. Here are the parts from the kit to complete the pen. The only work to do is turn and finish the blank of wood.  I mixed up some 5 minute epoxy and buttered both the bore in the block and the outside of the tube. The tube is already in the wood block in this picture.
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 Can't see the block but I am trimming the block to the exact length of the brass tube. The instructions make a lot of fuss about how critical this is to be square but I found it not to be so bad a job.  Here is the center mandral already in the lathe collet. There is a steel plug that is placed in both ends of the  wood block. The plugs fit the ID of the brass tube and their OD is the diameter of the finished pen. At least at the ends. The turninigs can be "fatter" than the plugs in the middle.
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 I have just slipped the rough blank on the mandral. The large brass thumb wheel on the right end of the mandral locks the blank on the mandral.  Now I am adjusting the tool rest in front of the turning blank. It needs to be slightly away from the bank and about centerline.
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 I brought up the tail post which is spring loaded on the Taig lathe. That makes it very simple to adjust as the end pressure is automatic.  I am doing some rough cutting here. This is very easy and fun to do. I have had some turning experience a very long time ago.
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 This is near finished turning. Various sanding grades are used to get a super finish. I was too busy to get pictures of the fine finishing. It is sort of boring pictures anyway.  Here is the blank with the finish applied. It is done while the blank is spinning. I used clear butcher block finish I had on hand. Looks good a dries quickly. See application rag and sanding block in background...
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 Time to take the blank off the lathe.  Here we are, the barrel is all ready to assemble another pen.
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 This is all the parts with the turned wood barrel. This is really a very simple and easy project.  I used the vice on my woodworking bench to press the clip end into the barrel
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 Being carefull not to crush the barrel, it doesn't require much pressure to push on the end.  All the remaining parts - step one...
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 Step two...  and now a finished pen.
 Here are pens #1 in silver (front) and #2, 24kt gold in the rear.




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