I have been turning pens for a few weeks and given a few as gifts around the office. The overall favorite remains the Cigar Pen, a Penn State staple, but also available from Augum’s Pen Works and other vendors.This Cigar Pen in 24 carat gold on very well figured Redwood stock is destined for the desk of a colleague who really liked my first Cigar Pen in chrome. He’s a Gold guy, though, so I just turned this one for his holiday gift.
Though it’s a favorite of Penn State Ind, I bought this kit from Wood Turningz, an online retailer who offers anything from the PSI catalog at a discount, as well as other manufacturers. These pen kits were of top quality. I’ve noticed that the quality of the bag hints at the overall quality of the kit. If I can’t open the little parts bags or they are so thin that it’s easier to rip them open, I tend not to like the overall quality of the kit’s fit or finish.
The Redwood stock started in a grab bag from my local Woodcraft, and I cut it by hand with my Japanese saw and a miter jig. The Redwood was nicely figured and turned easily. I’m still learning, so most of my work starts and ends with a 1/4″bowl gouge rather than a more exotic selection of chisels. I try to keep the tool sharp, though I am eating up the chisel faster than I would like. Practice should improve my technique.
The finish started as CA glue to basically fill some gaps in the grain and essentially seal the wood. I used steel wool to buff out the CA haze, then used PPP satin bar finish for two coats. I finished with three coats of PPP high gloss and pressed so hard for so long that the finish smoked on the rag. It’s very nicely glossed.
Assembly posed an interesting challenge, and I made a rookie mistake that I won’t soon forget. I inserted the tip to the lower blank using my pen press, but ended up slighly crushing a ring on the very end of the tip. It’s exactly where the tip stops on the pen press, and normal pressure slightly dented a ring into the gold tip. Not a very noticable problem, but not something I want to see again. From now on, I’m going to unscrew the end of the tip from the flange before I assemble the blank.
The kit fit perfectly and I really did a good job taking the wood down to every transition point evenly. My first pens lacked a perfect soft transition from metal kit to wooden shaft, but this one really worked well. I sanded out to 1200 grit and the finish added 6 layers, but I don’t notice any gaps in between parts. I hope my friend at work enjoys his new pen. I doubt I’ll be able to wait until the holidays to give the gift.
-- Mark, Florida, http://penturner.wordpress.com/