I am on a few wood-related mailing lists that send out their weekly e-letters. I am continually amazed at the less than stellar information that is propogated. And the latest one is from a major magazine. It spurred my interest again about a particular aspect of pen making that just keeps being propogated as fact. Where in fact, it is really in error. It has to do with aligning the holes between two halves of a pen blank. Like you would do with a Cigar pen.
When preparing a pen blank for drilling, we often add a witness mark down the side of the blank, spanning where we plan on cutting it:
This make it easier to realign the grain later:
We flip the top piece over:
And then we mark adjacent corners with another witness mark, a dot:
Rotate and ready for the vise:
This dot helps us properly orient the blanks into the vise. We align the dot on the blank with an arbitrary dot we put on one jaw of the vise. Now if we properly align the vise to drill perfectly in the center of the blank, then we have no problem:
Sometimes however, we find that for whatever reason, the setting has wandered and the hole is slightly off center on the first blank:
We’ve been told though, that if we align the dot on the second blank with that same dot on our vise, then the offset will be cancelled out. This would be fine if it actually worked. Actually, it WILL work if the error is in the direction of the other jaw. The problem comes when the bit wanders in ANY other direction, such as shown in the previous picture.
If we drill the second blank with the same setting, the hole will be located at the Red mark, which would be wrong. The proper location would be to drill it at the Green mark:
In the Green location, it would correctly align the grain of the two blanks.
Conclusion: Mark your pen blanks but don’t bother with the ‘Dot Theory’. Just do a better job of setting up your drill press. Or just use your lathe for the drilling. Hope this helps someone out. And I hope I havn’t stepped on any toes out there.
-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--