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Pen Turning #2: Intro to Pen Turning - Part 2

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Blog entry by WayneC posted 07-14-2007 02:12 AM 4021 reads 3 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Intro to Pen Turning - Part 1 Part 2 of Pen Turning series no next part

In this part I’m intending to finish the cigar pen I started last time. I’m going to add a bloodwood accent to the writing end of the pen.

To do this I took a bloodwood scrap and drilled the center. I then took a spare brass tube put it on the pen mill and squared one end to the hole. This allows the part to mate seamlessly to the piece on the tube.

Bloodwood

Next is cut off a short piece to glue onto the tube. I am using a clamp to keep my fingers away. I probably could have cut this one a bit shorter.

Cutting to lenght

Here is the cutoff.

After Cut

Now I glue it back on with CA and then use the barrel trimmer to trim down to the tube and square the end. Then everything goes back on the lathe.

Glued on end of blank

Next I carefully turn the piece back to round. I’m using a 3/8 spindle gouge and normally work fairly quickly until I’m close to the bushings.

Turned back to round

Next you turn it down to to where it is slightly proud of the bushings. By slightly I mean that I allow enough material to be removed when I sand that the ends are flush with the bushing. Each bushing represents where the part will mate when you press it together. As you get close you also want to get as smooth a finish as possible. One day I will master the skew and not have to worry about it.

Turned to match bushings

Below are some of the items I use for sanding and finishing. The sandpaper strips is available from most suppliers and has grits from 150 to 400. I’m using Mylands friction polish. I have the sanding sealer out but not using it on this pen. Also, is one of Don’s recommended turning items Shellawax finish. It is a wax with grit in it that is used prior to using the friction polish.

Sanding and Finishing Supplies

The next step is to sand the pen. This is done while the lathe is spinning. I start with 150 grit sandpaper and work to 320 on this pen. Then I switch to micro mesh and continue up to 3500 grit.

Sanding

Then I coat the pen with Friction Polish and using a paper towel buff it until it gets hot in my fingers. This sets the polish. On this pen I used two coats.

With Friction Polish - Ready to come off the lathe

There are a number of ways to press the parts of the pen together. You lay the parts out according to the instructions and press them together on by one. I’m using a pen press from Woodcraft, but there are many ways to do this that do not require a commercial tool. This includes a bench vice, clamps or your drill press.

Pressing Parts together

Here is a closer view of the press in action.

Closer View

And one of the pen in it’s case.

Final Product

I encourage everyone who has a lathe to give this a try and those of you considering the purchase one more reason to consider it.

My intent with this pen was to see how the Texas Ebony looked and turned and not so much the pen itself. I really liked the way the wood looks and turns. When I turn pens with wood with intersting grain or figure I normally will use a larger model of pen. This way I can show off the wood. I’m planning to gets a few board feet next time BlueStingRayBoots mills some.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov



17 comments so far

View mot's profile

mot

4911 posts in 3500 days


#1 posted 07-14-2007 05:35 AM

Wayne, this is just an awesome Howto for pen turning. I really appreciate the time that you went through to document your obvious skill in this task…or should I say, art form. The pen came out great.

When you are sanding how careful do you have to be sanding around the bushings? Can you affect the tolerances of later pens, or is it such fine grit sanded so lightly that it isn’t affecting that. Sorry for the stupid question, just wondering.

Tom

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3561 days


#2 posted 07-14-2007 05:48 AM

Thanks Tom.

Good point. Over time you can sand the bushings down if your not careful. I replace my bushings periodically on pens that I turn a lot. Also, I should describe the sanding process. After you sand each grit, stop the lathe and sand along the length of the pen to remove any scratches before moving to the next grit.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View woodspar's profile

woodspar

710 posts in 3563 days


#3 posted 07-14-2007 06:07 AM

Thanks Wayne. I do not have a lathe but thanks for spending the time to document this process. I appreciate it.

-- John

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile

BlueStingrayBoots

770 posts in 3466 days


#4 posted 07-14-2007 07:08 AM

Thankyou Wayne, I appreciate the lesson. Its not quite what I thought, now I’m clear on how to do it quikly, easily and correct.

View gizmodyne's profile

gizmodyne

1770 posts in 3554 days


#5 posted 07-14-2007 03:56 PM

Thanks Wayne… Great intro in the two blogs. I have always been curious about this.. Most of the arts and crafts stuff I like has zero turning in it so a lathe has not been on my list, but pens…. Mini-lathe hmm….

Question: Is pen blank wood somewhat green?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke." www.flickr.com/photos/gizmodyne

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3561 days


#6 posted 07-14-2007 04:02 PM

Your welcome John. Keep your eyes open on CraigsList for a mini lathe.

Pen blank wood is normally dried and stable. Green wood tends to check.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 3625 days


#7 posted 07-14-2007 04:27 PM

Great blog Wayne! I bet we see pens popping up all over Lumberjocks site now.

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View WeeWilly's profile

WeeWilly

20 posts in 3531 days


#8 posted 07-14-2007 05:45 PM

Great pen…and great hands-on visual of how to make this pen. Have you considered making a video of this process….it might sell very well. Thanks for the detailed instructions.

-- WeeWilly

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3561 days


#9 posted 07-14-2007 07:24 PM

Thanks Willy. I do not have a video camera yet. So, that kinds of limits me. I posted a couple of links to pen turning DVDs in the part 1. One of them is Free.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Bill's profile

Bill

2579 posts in 3625 days


#10 posted 07-14-2007 07:29 PM

Well selling your a video would allow you to pay for that video camera. Several sites offer DVDs on pen turning and such, so why not LJ DVDs?

-- Bill, Turlock California, http://www.brookswoodworks.com

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4012 posts in 3528 days


#11 posted 07-14-2007 07:36 PM

Several folks have mentioned that they like pen-turning because they can complete a project in the shop in one session. The other nice thing is, these projects can be sold to others (co-workers, etc.) without a huge marketing plan and at a value that is affordable to a wide audience. When I had the pen-turning fire going, I managed to sell enough to pay off the mini-lathe. Another reason to jump in!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12642 posts in 3561 days


#12 posted 07-14-2007 07:38 PM

Thanks Bill, I getting similar messages in PM.

Doug, you do some real high quality work. I bet they sell well.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4012 posts in 3528 days


#13 posted 07-14-2007 07:54 PM

I kinda dropped off after I buttonholed everyone I knew, and went to a gallery to set up some sales. She wanted to do a 70-30 split. And she got the 70%. Now I mostly gift them. But they are an impressive gift. I often cringe about giving craft-y things (Oh, thanks so much for the appliqué T-shirt -yeeeyuh), but pens seem to be universally well received.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 3276 days


#14 posted 02-16-2008 09:52 PM

Good lesson. Thanks.

-- Jiri

View rikkor's profile

rikkor

11295 posts in 3338 days


#15 posted 02-17-2008 12:45 AM

Thanks for the write-up. The pen looks great.

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