Pen Blanks Square vs Round?

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Forum topic by LarryDNJR posted 03-04-2010 11:13 AM 3244 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View LarryDNJR's profile


209 posts in 2512 days

03-04-2010 11:13 AM

Does anyone out there have opinions and input on using a round pen blank as opposed to a square blank?

-- ~Larry Columbus, OH

10 replies so far

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 2483 days

#1 posted 03-04-2010 12:46 PM

Other than making sure it is centered no..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2493 days

#2 posted 03-04-2010 03:20 PM

I find pen blanks to be some of the most expensive wood one can buy. It is much more economical to buy a piece of lumber and cut your own blanks. It is often possible to get some blanks out of leftover scrap from another project. Because of my preference for making my own, I am always using square blanks.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jack Gaskins's profile

Jack Gaskins

46 posts in 2432 days

#3 posted 03-04-2010 10:15 PM

Hi Larry. IMO I like the round pen blanks. They are easier to chuck up on my lathe then drill a hole in them versa the square blanks. If you buy square blanks they are NEVER square. Drill blanks on the lathe is more accurate IMO.

-- USAF Ret. 2006

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

555 posts in 2475 days

#4 posted 03-05-2010 04:19 AM

Since we turn them round anyway, there doesn’t seem to be any disadvantage with starting round other than possibly the price. Lumber doesn’t come round (except logs or branches). The only disadvantage I can see is that to get round blanks someone has had to have already turned them which means another step in the process which probably means more cost. I find myself agreeing with Rich. Although I sometimes by little bits of pretty wood for pens, chisel handles and other turned pieces. It must be my Iowa connection.
Go Grinnell Pioneers.

-- Glen

View grub32's profile


212 posts in 2467 days

#5 posted 03-05-2010 04:24 AM

I have to say that its cheaper to buy square and do the work yourself….Like Glen said, you will not be limited by variety of wood that way.

A lot of lumber suppliers will sell you small amounts of virtually any wood you want. Some places even sell cutoffs for almost nothing. Get in good with your local supplier and they may save them for you for free.

Good luck,


-- Science Teacher by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3516 days

#6 posted 03-05-2010 04:31 AM

I agree, I find it much more cost effective to buy the wood and cut into blanks.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View cut3times's profile


116 posts in 2425 days

#7 posted 03-05-2010 04:34 AM

Larry I am curious as to why your asking this. I do not think I have ever used a round blank. If the blank is pre-drilled I would not buy it. I like knowing that the tubes are going to fit with no slop.

-- And Still Too Short - "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." John Lennon

View LarryDNJR's profile


209 posts in 2512 days

#8 posted 03-05-2010 05:16 AM

Appreciate all the input. I think personally I’d like the square blanks so I can turn them myself from start to finish so to speak. Reason I started this was I found some suppliers of round blanks online that seemed to be going for a decent price so it just got me thinking of what the pros and cons would be of round vs square blanks.

As for pre-drilled blanks those I would definitely avoid. Rounded I think I can deal with, price being right. :)

-- ~Larry Columbus, OH

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 2907 days

#9 posted 03-05-2010 06:11 AM

What Rich said. you will find it a matter of a few seconds difference in turning round or square. Making your own blanks out of stock wood is the way to go.

I also drill my blanks on my drill press using a pen vise. I have never had any problems and the holes are always straight and true.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View Edziu's profile


150 posts in 2469 days

#10 posted 03-05-2010 06:44 AM

I am going to agree with Rich and the others. I work at a store where I have a lady coming in to the shop, buying large boards and sawing them up into her own pen blanks, she also sells them to other turners. What Rich and others have not touched on is your aBility to cut the pen blanks differently. This lady goes nuts cutting blanks diagonally on the saw; the look is incredible. I’m trying to get her to make one with the grain 90 degrees to the length of the pen.

BUT, if the pen blanks are comparable to square blanks, but of course, buy them!

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