As The Lathe Turns #52: Shooting Straight

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Blog entry by William posted 10-04-2013 09:05 PM 1504 reads 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 51: Newest Antler Pen Part 52 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 53: The Lathe »

I must give you all fair warning. I have gotten way behind on posting my blog as of late. Settle in, grab a cup of coffee, or beverage of your choice, and hang on. This one will be a long one.

The thing that has kept me from posting, besides personal problems, is that I have gotten into some pens that have really peaked my interest. I had a birthday last month. My wife asked what I wanted and I told her I’d really like to order some kind of pen kits besides slimlines that I have been turning. So she gave me some money to order what I wanted and I ordered some teacher's pens, and a five piece starter set of bullet pens.
There is so much to show, that I guess I’ll just go in order and shoot straight through it, thus the name of this blog entry.

I done one of the teacher’s pens first. I made a Celtic knot in the middle piece, which is made of maple. Then I used purple heart and ziricote for the end pieces. This pen is designed for teachers or accountants because it uses the two inks that those professions use most. The end of the pen with the ziricote turns to expose a black ink tip, while the purple heart end exposes a red ink tip.

Next, I desperately wanted to get into those bullet pens. However, the starter set came with several pieces of camouflage acrylic blanks. I had never worked with acrylic before, and really wanted to practice on it before I started on the higher priced bullet pen kits. Well, one of the acrylic blanks was this crushed camo. Personally, I thought it was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. Someone else might like it though, so it was a perfect candidate to use with a slimline kit to get some practice on.

Then I couldn’t wait any longer. I just had to do a bullet pen. I decided to do one of the .30 caliber click pens first, since it would also be my first click pen. This one is chrome with urban camo acrylic.
After turning two pens with it, I felt I was ready to give my opinion of turning acrylic. It is alright. I much more prefer wood though. If someone wants acrylic, or I happen to get some, I’ll be happy to turn it. I highly doubt I’ll be going out of my way to acquire more though.

This next pen was just a fun pen to do. It is the .50 caliber pen made with desert camo acrylic. It is meant to be a stand alone desk accessory. I did however go back later and make a box for it so it would make a good gift for someone.

To really give you an idea of the massive size of this pen, here it is next to a slimline pen. It also shows why I had to make a different box for it.
I have so many photos to show that I am not necessarily showing the boxes I made in this post. I had to make special boxes for several other pens. If any of my readers are actually interested in them though, please let me know and I’ll post more about the boxes.

Now, I am going to show the box for this pen in just a bit. This pen is special to me for several reasons. For starters, I think it is my new favorite. I absolutely love this pen. It is the civil war pen. Another thing is, my hometown, and where I now reside, is steeped in civil war history. Also not to be missed, I fell in love with the box elder burl that came with this starter set before I even turned it, and loved it more after it was turned, sanded, and buffed to a high gloss shine.

Here is a better close up of the pen. It is chrome with box elder burl.

I made more of a collector style box for it out of sapelle. I chose this design because it is more of a collector item than most of the pens I have turned. Also, the paper that goes with the pen would not fit in the boxes I’ve been making.

Here is the inside of the box, and the paper I am talking about. The paper has a stylish front which tells who turned it and what kind of wood is used on it.
Inside that paper is information about the different parts of the pen and why they were chose for the hardware on a civil war pen. The clip is the replica of an 1861 Springfield musket. The cap is a .58 caliber “Minnie” ball, and the tip is the replica of a .44 caliber 1860 Colt Army revolver bullet.
If any of you would like to read more about this, please let me know and I’ll type up the information for you to read.

For the .30 caliber twist pen, I decided that since I love burl so much, I would try some of the live oak burl on it.

By this time, the idea had struck me to combine two things that are very popular in the area where I live, bullets (or guns) and white tail deer. So I done the last pen, the gold click pen, in white tail deer antler.

With all these ideas floating around in my head, I somehow came out of the starter set with one piece of untouched acrylic. So I decided to do the woodland camo blank for another slimline pen.

Then, through all this, one of my older sons had seen each pen with great interest. He loves guns and hunting. He recently bought a .45-70 and was bugging me to death about making him a pen out of a .45-70 cartridge. I kept telling him they don’t make kits for that and carried on. Then, as I was nearing completion of all of the kit pens, I thought one evening about how much I’ve done in the past without proper kits. So I knew there had to be a way.
I took what was left of the urban camo blank. I cut one end off to length for a slimline tube. The other end I glued what was left to one end of a slimline tube. Next, I used calipers to carefully measure and turn a shoulder to fit snugly inside the .45-70 cartridge. Then, resetting the calipers, again carefully turned the rest of the pen to be exactly the same diameter as the outside of the cartridge. From there, I just turned the tip end to shape of a regular pen and used gold slimline parts to make a pen. The shoulder I turned before got glued inside the .45-70 cartridge.

These are unrelated, but both the pink slimline pen and the zebra wood with cross grain slimline pen have left my shop. Since both of these pens seem to be very popular, I felt I needed to replace them.

While doing the pink pen though, which is actually pink dyed maple, I had another idea. I also had a piece of black dyed maple. These two together made perfect ends for a teacher’s pen. For the middle I used a piece of cocabolo that has really interested me since I first laid eyes on it. It had sap wood in it, which is something I had never seen before.

While doing that teachers pen, I had yet another idea. You may remember how much I love burl. I had just enough box elder burl from the start set to go with some cherry burl and live oak burl, and make a teachers pen with three different types of burl on it.

I had just enough left of that cocabolo with the sapwood to do one more thing with. I wanted to make something special for my Dad.
My Dad, if some of you remember, is part of S.A.S.S. They shoot old west era guns. One of the guns he shoot is a .45 Colt. It is the same ones I made gun blocks for some time back.
Well I knew if I could make a pen with a .45-70, then I should be able to do the same with a .45 Colt. So, using the same method as for the pen previously described, I made my Dad a cocabolo pen with a .45 Colt cap.

Well, if you haven’t left yet or fell asleep, that is what I have been able to get done in the last couple of weeks. I have been down a bit in my health, but hope to get back in the shop soon. Also, I hope I am able to order more bullet pen kits soon. I really enjoy them and have all kinds of idea for them. In the meantime, I still have seven more teachers pen kits to come up with ideas for.


24 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2851 days

#1 posted 10-04-2013 09:53 PM

That was some catching up.
Good to see you back, I hope you get back to normal


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2837 days

#2 posted 10-04-2013 10:40 PM

Thank you Jamie and you know I’ll bounce back like always.
Sorry for such a long catch up post.


View lew's profile


12055 posts in 3750 days

#3 posted 10-04-2013 11:36 PM

Those are some fine looking pens, William, and really nice “enclosures”.

Never tried any of the “Teacher” pens but did make a couple of Civil War models for some of historians I know. Used local walnut- nothing as fancy as yours.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2837 days

#4 posted 10-04-2013 11:53 PM

Thank you lew.
I thought of doing the teacher pens because we have a few friends who are teachers. I’m hoping that giving them as gifts this year will be nice and also maybe generate a few sales.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#5 posted 10-05-2013 12:26 AM

You have again raised the bar in your pen turning! I love the teachers pens but never saw those before you posted these. I am a big fan of all the burl pens you have done but the live oak is my favorite of the burls. BUT the coolest one you posted tonight is the one you made for your dad with the .45 Long Colt casing. I may have to own one of those!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2070 days

#6 posted 10-05-2013 01:16 AM

I’ve never heard of bullet pens before.
My two favourite are the burl pens, beautiful.
Nice to see you posting!

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2837 days

#7 posted 10-05-2013 01:38 AM

Thank you Sandra.
Andy, let me think of an add on for a certain piece of orange wood you sent me and the next .45Colt pen I make will be headed your way.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3298 days

#8 posted 10-05-2013 02:13 AM

well you know i understand your reasons for short shop time, but i do have to say with what time your getting, your doing some fantastic work william, and that is shootin from the hip, i could get more specific, but i dont want to be out gunned by anyone who has better things to say….lol…take care, do what it takes to feel well and will look forward to the next time you post…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8029 posts in 2323 days

#9 posted 10-05-2013 04:08 AM

You certainly have mastered pen turning William!

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2609 days

#10 posted 10-05-2013 05:16 AM

william you have come a long way with these pen s,they are going to sell well ,beautiful pens

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Doe's profile


1402 posts in 2825 days

#11 posted 10-05-2013 09:17 AM

You are a true craftsman. They are all outstanding! I’m not at all surprised that you made bullet pens with slimline kits; you are totally unstoppable when you’re thinking of new ideas.

I’d like to know more about the civil war pen, but I don’t want to take you away from what shop time you can manage.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2837 days

#12 posted 10-05-2013 11:44 AM

Thank you all for your compliments and kind words.
Doe, I am posting from my phone, but will pull out the laptop this evening and type up the info on the civil war pen. I don’t mind at all, as it is my favorite pen to date.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2685 days

#13 posted 10-05-2013 04:19 PM

William, I’m still not sure if my pen is hedge or mulberry but it is keeping its great color and I get a lot of compliments on it. Thanks again. I got more hedge but no mulberry yet.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2837 days

#14 posted 10-05-2013 05:11 PM

I like the hedge better than the mulberry.
The mulberry is petty but the hedge just seems to “pop” more.
So far, with three coats of CA glue finish, all the pens I have done in hedge and mulberry hold their color very well.
I left one hedge pen unfinished just to test it, and it started changing colors pretty quickly when left were it was in sun light.


View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3930 days

#15 posted 10-05-2013 05:21 PM

William, Great to see this post from you. What a great collection of pens. I have to say bullet pens have not really wowed me much, yours though look great. Have to agree with you on acrylics, I still have a few small pieces of them around here and I have not really gone out of my way to find a use for them. I much prefer wood, the look and the smell of it is better :)

Keep well, looking forward to your next post.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

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