Challenges Roughing Acrylic Pen blank

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Forum topic by BikerDad posted 12-23-2015 08:04 PM 431 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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284 posts in 3022 days

12-23-2015 08:04 PM

Yesterday, I mounted my first acrylic pen blank on the lathe and set to it. I’ve done about 2 dozen pens thus far, and NONE of them, including hard maple and purpleheart, have been as much trouble to rough out as this acrylic blank. Once I got it roughed down, it turned nice and sweet, but getting it to that point was full of catches and stalls. I first tried with my roughing gouge, no love there. Then I switched to using my EWT Pen Turner (mini-rougher with 2” radius square cutter), and got more success, but it still took at least 3 times as long as wood blanks take. I know, because I had roughed and turned two purpleheart blanks just before tackling the acrylic.

Are there any secrets to roughing acrylic blanks that folks would care to share?

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

3 replies so far

View Zboom's profile


72 posts in 1775 days

#1 posted 12-23-2015 08:12 PM

If you can knock the edges off with a band saw or some type of sander it will be a little easier for you. You may also try holding your carbide cutter an angle which will cut better for roughing. Good luck!

-- Michael,

View Kenbu's profile


28 posts in 1301 days

#2 posted 12-23-2015 09:43 PM

After shattering a few of my first acrylic blanks, I ended up having success with initial rounding using a skew. Suggestions so far are also good ideas.


View Wildwood's profile


1851 posts in 1555 days

#3 posted 12-23-2015 10:25 PM

I can get three or four acrylic blanks turned with a sharp roughing gouge. Yes will run a skew over some not ready to sand. I wet sand & polish acrylic blanks using micromesh.

Simply crank up the speed and use a light touch whether using a roughing gouge or skew.

-- Bill

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