Introduction: American Patriot Pen
I turned this slimline pen from stars and stripes blanks and I'll show you how I did it.
Step 1: Cutting and Drilling Your Blanks
I purchased a stars blank and a stripes blank from Packard Woodworks (though you can buy them at a lot of other woodturning stores). I also bought a chrome fancy slimline pen kit from Craft Supplies. I took the brass tubes and laid them onto each blank and marked their length plus 1/16"-1/8" or so. That measurement doesn't have to be exact as long as it's not shorter than the tube itself. I then cut at the mark at my bandsaw. After that I marked center on the end of each blank and mounted them into my drilling jig. The photo above shows my old jig which was a 2"x4" ripped in have with a notch in the center and two clamps. I have since added a nut and a bolt on either side so I no longer need the clamps. I used my 7mm drill bit specified for the slimline kit and drilled straight through each blank at my drill press. Don't drill too fast and hard with acrylic (especially cheaper acrylics) because they can be quite brittle and will crack. Take your time.
Step 2: Gluing in the Brass Tubes
Next, I glued in each brass tube. There's a lot of places to screw up here so pay close attention to the process. First, I rough up each tube with a scotch brite pad (any 320 or 400 grit sandpaper will do the trick as well). This will remove the luster of the brass and provide more surface area for the glue to bond too. This is the difference between trying to stick two pieces of glass together and trying to stick some velcro together. Very important! Next, I slip the 7mm tube onto the tip of a pencil so I don't get my fingers sticky. Then, I use a medium CA glue. I used to use epoxy, however I have since then changed gears and went with CA. I run several beads of medium CA along the brass tube. After that, I insert the tube two thirds of the way in from one end. Be sure to twirl the tube as it pushes it so the glue spreads. Now, I pull it out and reinsert it from the opposite end. Here's the science behind that move: When the brass tube reaches the end of a blank, almost all of the glue has squeezed out. So you'll end up with a weak bond on the end of the blank opposite the end you inserted the brass tube. Pushing in from one side first will coat that side with CA and prep it for the end of the tube to be pushed in from the other side. You'll be thanking me for that trick later on. Trust me. Next, I take a scrap of plywood and scrape the each end of the blank on it too remove excess glue and make the tube flush with an end if it's not already. I spray the ends of the blanks with an accelerator to speed up the drying process and I let them sit for five to ten minutes.
Step 3: Barrel Trimming
I used to flush the ends of the blanks with the tubes via disc sander, but now I use a barrel trimmer. A barrel trimmer ensures a perfectly flat and level end of the blank. It also removes dried excess glue from the inside of the tubes which makes life a lot easier. I clamp each blank in my drilling jig and mount the barrel trimmer in my drill press and carve down until I see the brass tube's edge.
Step 4: Turning the Blanks
Now I mount each blank on my pen mandrel with the slimline bushings. I crank my mini lathe up to full speed (2800 rpm) and start turning. I like to use a 3/4" roughing gouge but I also have enjoyed turning pens with a low fluted 1" spindle gouge. I turn down the blanks until I get a shape that I like and the ends are nice and flush with the bushings. After the turning, I sand each blank with 180, 240, 320, 400, 600, 800, and a burnish with 2000. It's very important to go through the grits evenly and up into the high grits with acrylics. The goal with sanding acrylic is to reduce the sand scratch too a size that the human eye cannot see, thus making it look glossy and shiny. So I remove the tool marks with 180 grit and then I remove the 180 grit scratches with 240 grit. Then the 240 grit sand scratch gets removed with 320 and so forth. This process stops at the burnish with 2000 grit paper but resumes with a different type of sandpaper, micro mesh. Micro Mesh is a series of super fine grit sandpaper that is intended to polish acrylics and plastics. It starts somewhere around 1500 and moves up through a long series of grits to 12,000. This involves the same theory of removing the previous sand scratch with an even finer sand scratch until it looks shiny and polished. Now, you can stop polishing there, but I like to use an automotive buffing compound to really put a glassy surface on the pen. I use a damp cloth to keep the cutting action cool and smooth. I apply a drop of compound to the cloth and start buffing the pen with the lathe at high speed. After that, the turning is done.
Step 5: Assembly
I assemable my pens with a pen press but I've used the lathe's tail stock, clamps, and even my bench vice to press the pen's parts together. But honestly, the pen press is a lot easier to use. I followed the instructions for the slimline pen. It's a fairly simple process. Just press the tip into one blank, the twist mechanism into the opposite end of that blank, the ink refill goes into the twist mechanism, the cap and clip press into the top, and the center band along with the top half slide over the twist mechanism. One thing that I do differently is apply a drop of CA to the cap and clip. With use, the clip/cap assembly loosens up and can be quite a bother, so to avoid that happening, I put a tiny little drop of CA into the inside of the brass tube that the cap gets pressed into. And that's it! I hope you all enjoyed! Learn more at www.peterturnswood.com
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