If you read the last blog installment, you know I was having a problem squaring the pen blanks to the tube inserts. I don’t like the barrel trimmers. The idea is a good one, but I just didn’t like the performance of the one I have. So I had an idea for a different approach.
I have seen some jigs to be used with disk sanders. I have a disk sander. However, I keep course paper on it for another purpose in my shop. The disk sander idea would involve either setting it up with finer paper, which would slow me down when I use it to hog off material on some other projects I use it one, or constantly changing paper all the time, which is a major hassle. So, going on that general sanding idea, I had an idea to go a different route.
I have learned that, when wanting to get things perfectly square and concentric at the same time, there is no better tool for the job than the lathe itself. So my idea involved sanding the blanks square on the lathe.
Here is the tool. To make it I took a length of quarter inch steel rod. I chucked it up into the morse taper end of the pen mandrel set and used sandpaper with the lathe running to get it sanded down just a hair, so the seven millimeter tubes would slip all the way across snugly, but easily at the same time. Next I drilled a quarter inch hole into a small square of wood and used epoxy to glue it onto the shaft. Once the epoxy set, I turned the block of wood down round, and perfectly straight with the shaft. Then I took two pieces of sandpaper, eight grit and two twenty grit, and sandwiched them between two pieces of wood so I could use the drill press to put clean holes though the center. I then epoxied a piece of the paper to each side of the wooden block.
This completed the tool. I also coated the outer edge of the rounded wood with CA glue. This wasn’t absolutely necessary. I figured it would prevent some wood movement though. It couldn’t hurt.
Now for using it.
The tool simply slips into the morse taper end chuck part of the pen mandrel. For the purpose I’m using it for, I found that simply hand tightening the chuck holds the tool plenty tight enough for what I need to do. You can flip the tool either way depending on if you wish to use eighty grit or two twenty grit. I’ll usually use the finer grit. I figure if a blank is severely out of square, or extremely hard, I may have a need for the courser grit.
Then, with the lathe running at it’s slowest speed, so you don’t accidentally take off too much, slip the pen blank over the end of the shaft and touch it lightly to the paper. I suggest going slow and letting the abrasive do the work. This will assure a nicer finish on the end, extend the life of the paper, and taking your time allows you to keep a close eye on things and not sand too much away.
In the above photo, you see the back end of the pen I made yesterday with the gap in it. As a good test run, I decided to take a chance on the tool, since I was sure it would work, and fix the gap in this pen. I used a punch to knock the clip and cap off the end of it so I could give it a try. The worst that could happen would be for me to mess the pen up. If it did, it wouldn’t be the first time, and most probably won’t be the last.
Luckily, I did not have to scrap a pen today. IT WORKED!!!
If you like this pen blank squaring tool, you can build your own and send the money to….......
I’m just joking. I think this is a good idea and would be flattered if anyone likes it enough to copy it.