Making my own bushings for pen kits?

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Forum topic by COACHJ posted 10-27-2012 10:48 PM 9448 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 2279 days

10-27-2012 10:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource tip lathe

HI, I do a lot of pens, I am doing my first show next Saturday. As I open new pen kits to try different pens I notice every pen needs different bushings, I mean the one I am doing now needs 9.55 mm and a cigar kit is 10! WHy not make them match? SO that increases pen costs 6.00 so I had an idea!!
uh oh :)

I am going to spin my own bushings out of a hard wood. I will measure carefully and let you all know if it works.

Has anyone tried this??

thanks :)


7 replies so far

View Gary's profile


9386 posts in 3673 days

#1 posted 10-27-2012 10:51 PM

Welcome to the site I’m not a pen turner or turner of any kind. But, I hope it works for you. Looking forward to see how you do with your new challenge.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Wildwood's profile


2529 posts in 2374 days

#2 posted 10-28-2012 02:24 PM

Coach, bushings are cheap insurance on getting close to final dimensions. A digital caliper for measuring components and pen barrels helps a lot. Pen kit bushings have a tendency to wear out faster if folks sand them too.
People do make their own bushings from plastic, steel, & wood. Think have to ask yourself how many pens can I make from just one set of bushings?

Not sure where getting your pen kits Berea Hardwoods (Berea) Penn State (PSI), or Woodturners catalog (Craft supplies) but many of resellers for Berea & PSI sell kit accessories for less, Craft Supplies has no resellers. Berea sometimes has reduced price on bushings in their introductory offerings. Same with PSI if buy certain number of kits. Take a look at list of vendors at this site.

If link does not work click on then links, vendors:

Many pen turners including myself turn pen barrels between centers without mandrel, and may or may not use bushings. I still use bushing to turn but not finish. We use a dead and live center in head/tailstock.

Good luck.

-- Bill

View derosa's profile


1590 posts in 3075 days

#3 posted 10-28-2012 04:59 PM

It may be due to my inexperience with making pens, I’ve only made a half dozen. But I need those bushings to let me know that I have the ends sitting nice and flush with the trim pieces and as a result my tools touch them more then perhaps they should although I try to avoid that. If the bushings were wood I would lose some degree of precision in the first pen and even if I got the second one right I’d have to replace the bushing after the second pen. Seems the 6-10.00 that each bushing sets costs is worth it over having to make multiple bushings to keep everything precise. And even if you only got 24 pens out of say a 6.00 bushing that’s only a .25 markup per pen; even as clumsy as I am I suspect that I will get 100 pens out of the one set dropping it to an additional cost of .06 a pen.

-- A posse ad esse

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3423 days

#4 posted 10-28-2012 06:09 PM

Coach As Bill stated has a wealth of information in the library and the forums. Some very talented and dedicated craftsman provide great examples, how to articles and are eager to help anyone interested in pen turning.

Derosa I use the bushings to get close and then use a micrometer and start measuring and turn until I get to the final dimension that’s the same as the kit parts that the barrel is going to be mated with. There are differences between individual pen kits within a line of kits and the same is true for bushings.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2488 days

#5 posted 10-29-2012 12:44 PM

Pen making is such a racket, but I play along because it is so fun. Not only do you need the bushings, you need a drill bit and a reamer. If you square your blanks with a disk sander and fill the tube ends with clay to keep the epoxy out, you can skip the reamer, but I prefer to mill/ream my blanks. I have seen bushings made from wood and brass, but as you’ve found out form turning pens, precision is key here to get that perfect fit. Also wood or brass bushings would likely be single use. One hit from a gouge or skew and they are done. In addition sandpaper will wear them down quickly as well.

When I want to try a new pen style, I’ll order a starter kit from PSI, like this one I just got. You get a few pen kits and the bushings. This also comes with the drill bit, but I’ve learned my lesson with cheap bits. I will only by Colt Pen makers bits from now on. They are really pricey, but completely worth the money.


View COACHJ's profile


12 posts in 2279 days

#6 posted 11-05-2012 05:30 PM

OK the verdict is NO ! iT did the job but its not a suitable substitute.


View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3825 days

#7 posted 11-05-2012 06:17 PM

wood is too soft and will not allow the register to come out perfect without perhaps removing a bit of the bush too. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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