Never Again! - Coffee Bean Pen Blank

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Project by wecoyote posted 12-07-2009 07:07 AM 5591 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is my latest trial… Our 11 year old decided he wanted to give his teacher a double ended “teachers pen” for Christmas. He thought it would be cool to use the coffee bean blank for the middle part since his teacher is a coffee drinker.

Well, I found out that I do not like coffee bean blanks. As you shape the blank, the beans have a tendancy to come apart. This is actually my second attempt. The first was coated with CA to preserve the beans. CA cased two problems. Frist, it did not allow the smell of coffee to come out. Second, when removing from the mandrel, the bond between the bushing and the bean was stronger than between the bean and the rest of the pen. The end completely fell apart as I took it off the mandrel.

The second attempt was finished as smooth as possible with a skew and then sanding pads. I went as fine as I had and removed any scraches. Then, to preserve the coffee smell, I just melted candle wax and let that soak into the beans. Then, with friction and a cotton towel on a spinning lathe, I melted the wax into the voids and finished the blank.

In the first picture, the beans look like they have turned a bit white, however that is just the reflection of the flash. As you can see in the second picture, the beans kept their dark brown color and with the wax, polished up pretty good.

Oh, and the ends are made with Walnut (for the black ink end) and Rosewood (for the red ink end).

-- B. Corliss

13 comments so far

View rickf16's profile


390 posts in 3546 days

#1 posted 12-07-2009 09:20 AM

Nice looking pen. Thanks for giving me another reason not to use the coffee blank. My daughter wants one, but at 15 bucks a blank…forget it! Does the aroma still come through?

-- Rick

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4125 days

#2 posted 12-07-2009 01:43 PM

wonderful gift
great tips!! (don’t use coffee bean blank…. )

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View aldente's profile


175 posts in 3379 days

#3 posted 12-07-2009 03:24 PM

Nice looking pen. I’ve never done a coffee bean, and it sounds like I don’t want to. But as far as your bushing and blank issue, have you tried waxing your bushings with carnuba? I do some CA finishes and have no issue’s with seperation.

-- Rodd, Texas grandpa

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3085 days

#4 posted 12-07-2009 05:42 PM

too cool

-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#5 posted 12-07-2009 05:56 PM

A unique pen and unusual material in spite of your problems in making it, it came out very well

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3163 days

#6 posted 12-07-2009 07:07 PM

A lot of great info for us, nice job and thanks for sharing.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View branch's profile


1142 posts in 3119 days

#7 posted 12-07-2009 07:20 PM

cool locking pen unusual thanks for sharing

View wecoyote's profile


31 posts in 3135 days

#8 posted 12-08-2009 06:18 AM

I have heard about people using wax on their bushings. I will have to give it a try. When I did the Walnut and Rosewood pieces I actually got CA under the bushing and under the brass tube. That was sure a PITA to get off.

It took me most of the day Sunday when it should have only taken me an hour or so. Though it was a pain, having something this novel is pretty cool. I think, however, I will have to warranty this one in case the beans fall out. I can always just glue them back in with CA.

When all was said and done, you can still smell the coffee. I hope it is a hit…

-- B. Corliss

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4365 days

#9 posted 12-10-2009 04:30 AM

A cool looking blank, but I guess to tough to be really cool.

Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4292 days

#10 posted 12-13-2009 04:03 PM

was thinking about making one with coffee grounds… making my own blank. $15!!! thats crazy.
great job, and learning experience. Thanks for sharing the pitfalls and methods you used.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Dave's profile


74 posts in 4229 days

#11 posted 01-10-2010 01:56 AM

i like the coffee bean blank i was at a wood working show and a bought a coffee bean blank do you have eny tips when i make it.

-- ))penmaker((

View wecoyote's profile


31 posts in 3135 days

#12 posted 01-10-2010 02:00 PM

Yes, I do have a couple tips. First, when you are cutting, be careful not to take off too much at once. Deep cuts cause the beans to break and shatter. Also, if you use a Skew like a scraper, you are able to make it round. Otherwise, the beans cut easier than the surrounding material and you end up with “low” spots.

So, the biggest things are to go slow and use SHARP tools.

-- B. Corliss

View CaptainCook's profile


3 posts in 2883 days

#13 posted 05-30-2010 05:42 PM

I just finished my first coffee pen as well. I approached a little differently. A few months ago I was working on a rattlesnake pen and kept get blow outs. So instead of using my scew I first rounded the blank on my sander then used course (80 grit) sand paper to shape the pen and finished with micro surface sanding pads. It worked very well. After hearing several people mention the tendency of the beans to pop out I decided to try the same technique. It worked like a charm. I had no pop outs, the pen came out great.

-- Clay, California

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