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View tyskkvinna's profile

Finishing pen off the lathe

by tyskkvinna
posted 11-12-2011 04:52 PM

17 replies so far

View kayakdude's profile


97 posts in 2801 days

#1 posted 11-12-2011 05:03 PM

i use somtimes that work great is bouling alla wax or bee’s wax low or high speed it works and has a nice finish , and for about $ 300.00 you can buy a jet lathe good for pen making .

good luck

-- kayakdude

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3365 days

#2 posted 11-12-2011 05:05 PM

maybe a drill in a vise
and the mandrel turning
at medium

slower setting CA glue
on a rag

and wax

what i’ve heard

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3010 days

#3 posted 11-12-2011 05:12 PM

I’m not going to buy a lathe to make pens on. The CNC lathe I have will churn out pens for me as often as I want and lets me do other things while it makes them. :) This is strictly a profit operation so things like that matter.

Can’t use a drill. I don’t have a spare at the moment. (Really) Which is why I was looking for ideas that would work without that kind of action.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3022 days

#4 posted 11-12-2011 06:03 PM

The friction finishes like HUT wax are best on the late. Just takes seconds. It comes in several shades. As the workpiece turns, you rub the block against it and then switch to a rag. Works like a charm and no mess, muss. or fuss.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#5 posted 11-12-2011 06:36 PM

Liz, I am confused. I think I am looking at 2 tathes in your photo. The big white one is a CNC machine and to the left is a green one. Is this some kind of a community shop with several different busineses in it?

I also can’t understand why your business can have a CNC lathe that cost more than my wife’s Ford Expedition and every thing in my shop combined, but can’t have a spare drill or a little $100 lathe.

Not being critical at all. just confused. ? ?

As far as finish alternates, you can use clear sanding sealer and after it dries buff it with fine steel wool and follow with any good furniture wax; even Pledge spray wax. Looks great.

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3130 days

#6 posted 11-12-2011 07:49 PM

If you can spare about $200, you can setup a low speed (1700 to 1800 rpm) grinder with a dedicated Beall Buffer.

I find that I use the Beal Buffer so frequently that it is worth having a dedicated setup. I use it for everything from pens to large bowls, so the setup will not be limited in use to only your pen making operation.

You can also add a coat of Boiled Linseed Oil, letting it dry about 24 hours before buffing. That is, if you can afford the dry time. Otherwise skip the oil and go right to buffing.

Are you also sanding the pens off lathe? If so, and if you decide to use the Boiled Linseed Oil, try wet sanding with the Boiled Linseed Oil. Kill two birds with one stone!

I prefer uncomplicated, simple, quick finishing regiments for turning, as a big part of the fun of turning, I find, is the instant gratification. So, now you have one of my favorite such regiments (and the one I use most often for pens): wet sand with BLO, and buff

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View Brian Havens's profile

Brian Havens

196 posts in 3130 days

#7 posted 11-12-2011 08:08 PM

I was just thinking, if you cannot splurge for the Beall and must finish off lathe, I would try wet sanding by hand with Boiled Linseed Oil with 240, then 320, and then buff with brown paper bag.

-- Brian Havens, Woodworker

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3207 days

#8 posted 11-12-2011 08:34 PM

Use a drill press. Chuck the shaft from the mandrill or use all thread the same diameter as the mandrill shaft load the blanks and bushings onto the shaft and with light pressure apply your friction polish or finish to the blank. If you need to sand the blank for finishing then add a block of hard wood that will hold a roller ball bearing that has an inner diameter of 1/4” with a 1/4” dowel center inserted in the bearing and this acts as the live center. Attach the block to the drill press table, line up the dowel center point with the live center end of the mandrill shaft and secure the block to the table and sand and finish as you would on the lathe. Takes about 30 minutes and $15.00 in materials. I’ve used this method to turn and finish pens and it works very well.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3985 days

#9 posted 11-12-2011 10:43 PM

I use Hut wax too. That stuff is very good, but it has to be applied on the product while it is on the lathe. In a production environment, a dedicated spray booth is probably best. Hang the turnings, spray.
There is gonna be some hand work involved to get good results with either the wax or spray process.


View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3779 days

#10 posted 11-12-2011 10:57 PM

Go to the local Vocational/trade school and check with the HVAC department. They probably have a ton of old donated furnaces. Get a blower motor- 1/3 or 1/4 HP. It will probably have a 5/8” shaft with either a key way or flat spot on the shaft. Next a motor shaft coupling to connect from the motor to a 5/8” buffing wheel mandrel. Or you could connect the motor, using the coupling to a shaft running on a couple of pillow block bearings. Mount several buffing wheels on the shaft between the bearings- instant buffing station.

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

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3318 days

#11 posted 11-12-2011 11:13 PM

If you’re doing this for money making reasons then you’re going to need another lathe. The problem with putting the mandrel on a drill press or anything other than a lathe is that you need to apply the finish and that will spin the mandrel out of whack and maybe even bend it. You need to support both ends of the mandrel.
Go to something like Harbor Frieght or where ever and buy the cheapest possible lathe you can find that will fit your mandrels. You just need something that will hold both ends and spin so you can apply then possibly sand then buff. Can’t think of anything else that will give you a nice finish and not get all over your machinery and be quick, lot of constants in your process.

Put a bearing live center on the plate of the drill press somehow and then mounting the mandrel in a drill press might work.

You could just take the blanks off, stack them all in a row and use a wipe on poly by hand and then wait for them all to dry, recoat, etc.

-- LAS,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20594 posts in 3130 days

#12 posted 11-13-2011 12:31 AM

Can you put it on an arbor and chuck it in the drill press. I was talking to a guy at Woodcraft this morning and he said he used to cut and finish them on the drill press- the turning was hard but the finishing was great, He had a live center mounted on the table and held it between the chuck and the center in the bottom. I’ll bet you can rig that up in no time!! You could even do the sanding on there and reduce the time in the lathe…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3270 days

#13 posted 11-13-2011 12:43 AM

You can get this drill press lathe attachment. It’ll let you stack up a lot of pen parts for finishing at the same time. It’s also really inexpensive.

I’ve also just put a piece of string through the middle and dipped them in a cup of finish. Wipe off the excess and hang up to dry. Of course, just be sure that the string isn’t touching the outside. They came out not great but okay.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3010 days

#14 posted 11-13-2011 04:04 PM

The reason why I have an expensive CNC machine and can’t afford $100 on another tool is because, yes, this is a community workshop-I run a non-profit community workspace. We didn’t buy the CNC machine and it would be a stretch to even consider being able to afford one. :)

We recently broke two of our drills—as in, within the past 10 days. So I literally do not have a spare drill right now. They finally just up and died.

Eventually I can get some dedicated parts for making these, but in the meantime they are a nice fundraiser that I can do to help knock off the list of higher priority items that we need. (Like, yknow, drills.)

Incidentally there is no sanding when I am done making the pen. The finish from the CNC is really great. I may sand to make sure the very edges are perfect, but I may also do that on the tabletop sander.

I wondered if the hang-and-dip method would work. I will try that. That would be perfect. If not, I’ll see what I can rig up with a drill press. I may be able to come up with something.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#15 posted 11-14-2011 04:41 AM

Thanks for clearing that up.

Hang and dip might work but you will have to plug the ends so finish would not get inside.
I’m thinking of a couple small stoppers with tapers small enouth to fit into the barrels and with a sliding wire through the middle.

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3185 days

#16 posted 12-17-2011 12:32 AM

Lis, you might try General’s Turner’s Finish. It is fairly new and is not required you use it on the lathe. It can also be used for flat work. It also dries very fast. You might also try to get a free drill.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Mike's profile


406 posts in 2711 days

#17 posted 12-17-2011 12:44 AM


Here is my solution for you. Put butcher paper on the back side of the CNC. Take Clear Coat automotive spray and while the mandrel (chuck or whatever your using) is turning, spray each pen. With a 2 minute set time you can load allot of pens onto a 7 mm rod in a chuck. cap the free end after loading the pens, set your RPMs to something low, and finish a ton of pens at the same time. Very little hands on and the clear coat can be purchase in a spray can so no new equipment except maybe the rod. If you get several rods you can set one aside to dry and load a new batch on and work on those.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

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