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Step by Step Acetate Pen Turning #2: Turning the blanks

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Blog entry by FrankoManini posted 03-08-2010 09:56 AM 1735 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Preparing the blank Part 2 of Step by Step Acetate Pen Turning series Part 3: Sanding and Polishing »

The last entry in this series closed with the blanks setting overnight for the epoxy to cure. After this is complete, the ends of the blanks need to be squared to the same axis as the brass ferrules. This is achieved using a drill that is sized to the inside diameter of the ferrules, which is topped with a 4 winged cutter head. The drill is square to the cutter head, and the ferrule aligns the bit to the axis. Don’t overdo the drilling here. You can inadvertently erode the ID of the ferrules and the compnents of the pen won’t seat well.

From Red Acetate Pen

Once the faces are square, they will sit tighly to the bushings that determine the diameter at the end of each blank. Square faces ensure that the fitting will press in tight, and seat evenly at the faces. This is critical in showing off a good fit and finish on the final product. On small pieces of work it is IMPOSSIBLE to hide flaws.

Now the blanks are aligned with respect to grain, and placed on the mandrel with the bushings. Follow the instructions carefully to ensure the bushings go onto the mandrel in the right order relative to the length of the blanks. Some of the bushings can vary by less that 10 thou.

From Red Acetate Pen

Initial turning is done at around 2000 RPM, with a 1” roughing gouge. Some folks will say that you need a dedicated set of minature tools for turning pens. This is not the case. Good tool postion, and sharp tools will get the job done. Besindes, in more than 10 years of tunring, I’ve yet to see a quality set of minature tools. With acetate, you definately want a razors edge on your tools or the blank will melt and gall.

From Red Acetate Pen

Once the blank is round, move to a sharp detail gouge. I prefer a fingernail profile, but that’s personal preference. This is where the inital shape is applied. Think smooth, flowing curves.

From Red Acetate Pen

I perform the final smoothing and small changes in shape with a skew. Most turners are terrified of the skew because catches can be cataclysmic and violent. Practicing on smaller diameter work is a great way to refine your skills. I’ve increased the speed on the lathe to about 2500RPM here. The skew helps me smooth out the ridges left by the gouge since it cuts by “following the contour” behind itself.

From Red Acetate Pen

This is the shape I’ve ended up with.

From Red Acetate Pen

It is very important to leave a bit of extra diameter near the bushings. If you don’t you will not have enough material to sand and polish. The trick is knowing how much. I do it by feel, by leaving the smallest ridge that will still catch my fingernail. I’d guess it 15 to 20 thou. In softer materials, I’d leave more, in harder materials, less might be fine.

From Red Acetate Pen

Next time, we’ll sand and polish the pen. Until then… write on.

-- - If my wife asks, I got ALL of my tools on sale.



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