First turned pen, comments please.

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Project by Aaron posted 12-01-2011 08:01 AM 1795 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was my first attempt at turning a pen. This was euro-style picked up on sale at woodcraft. The wood is cocobolo… Now before you go there, yes I understand how working with this wood can be dangerous as there are some out there who become highly allergic to it.

I am not, however and since it’s sealed 100% with a CA finish even someone who was would be fine.

This was a bit tricky, as I was not used to working with something so small. The overall process was meticulous to say the least, more so than anything else I’ve turned. The CA finish process is a bit rough the first time (which this is) but I’ve refined it to the following;
(please note this pen did not get this finish I will post the ones that did)

-Sand from 200 down to 600;
-Seal with thin CA
-Sand back from 400-600
-Put on the first coat of thicker CA
-Sand from 400 down to 600 grit between each coat
-After 3-4 coats, get out the wet sanding kit I purchased from woodcraft and sand from 1200 to 12000
-Then use the satin and then finally the gloss polishing compound.

This provides the absolute best finish and really doesn’t take anymore than about 30 minutes (at the most)

What you end up with is a flawless shine, with no real marks, and a hard finish that will stand up to abuse.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed this and please post comments suggestions, or advice I’m always looking to learn.

-- "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed." ~Chinese Proverb~

8 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2382 posts in 3035 days

#1 posted 12-01-2011 12:06 PM

Meh, I finish mine with two coats of thin CA glue, sanded to 600, then AAAA steel wool, then buffed with a scrap piece of leather. Total run time: 5 minutes. Semi-gloss, semi-shine, very hard, which is enough on my book. I do have some cocobolo blanks that my supplier sent me as a gift but keep them for doing banding.

Beware Aaron, now that yo’ve been bit by the pen turning bug, you might find yourself into big trouble if you ever try to quit :)

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View Aaron's profile


34 posts in 2704 days

#2 posted 12-01-2011 12:33 PM

Yeah I agree I have already turned about 6 more in the last 2 days (8O

-- "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed." ~Chinese Proverb~

View TrBlu's profile


386 posts in 2827 days

#3 posted 12-01-2011 02:18 PM

Welcome to the addiction. Penturning can be fun and addicting.

I love working with Cocobolo. I have never experienced any of the reactions described by some turners.

Your fit and finish look great. Your finishing process is a little different from mine, but your results are great. I think each penmaker has to find the process that works best for him.

Here is the process I find works best for me… I turn pens with a scary sharp skew. After turning, I sand the wood dry from 600 – 1500 grit (sharp skew and light touch let me start at 600). I use 5 – 7 coats of thin CA (with less oily woods I use BLO between coats). After CA, I wet sand with 600 grit paper, then switch to MicroMesh pads and wet sand through 12000. Add a final coat of Plastix plastic polich (from the auto parts store), let it dry a few minutes, then buff with a clean cotton cloth. I cut the cotton cloth in small pieces (approximately 3”) from an old t-shirt.

If you are interested in learning more about penturning, let me suggest another great forum:

Great work. Look forward to seeing more real soon.


-- The more I work with wood the more I recognize only God can make something as beautiful as a tree. I hope my humble attempts at this craft do justice by His masterpiece. -- Tim

View jeffl's profile


288 posts in 3512 days

#4 posted 12-01-2011 07:57 PM

I turned a pen at a woodworking store just to try it. They were giving them to the troops which was nice. The excitement is lost on me but I do like seeing them. The smaller and simpler the better.

-- Jeff,

View joej's profile


9 posts in 2659 days

#5 posted 12-01-2011 09:14 PM

nice shape

View Chefdavid's profile


255 posts in 3057 days

#6 posted 12-02-2011 02:50 AM

Welcome to the cult!! Pen looks great. I turn a pen when I want to fire up the lathe but don’t have a lot of time to do a bigger project. As for the finish it took me some time and practice to come up with my own way. Lots of googling and youtube videos. So come up with your own way and don’t let anybody try to change your mind!! Once again great job and thanks for posting!!

-- Become a fan on Facebook...

View thelt's profile


665 posts in 3581 days

#7 posted 12-02-2011 02:05 PM

Yep, you got the bug. You can shorten your finish time by a bunch. 2 coats of medium CA, then polish with the HUT Perfect Pen Polishâ„¢ Gloss: High Gloss 2oz Bar. I polish with Hut bar 2 to three times. I use a paper shop towel to apply the CA and the same thing for the polish. I tried the steel wool and it wrapped around the pen and about took a couple of fingers with it. Paper towel is the only thing that gets used on my lathe polishing. If it does grab it tears off. This whole process after sanding to 600 grit takes less than 5 minutes.

Oh yea very nice pen.

-- When asked what I did to make life worthwhile in my lifetime....I can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served a career in the United States Navy."

View ed220's profile


624 posts in 3595 days

#8 posted 12-04-2011 04:48 PM

Great first attempt. You should be proud. I like the liquid Hut friction polish.

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