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How to turn a wooden pen on a lathe

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Step 6: Turning

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This is my favorite part. You can use a wood working lathe and skew or make a lathe like in Catwood's Instructable 100%Homemade Lathe.( If your lathe has a speed control you will want this to be as fast as possible) For a skew I use a round tip. You could also use a gouge or a chisel. Now take your Mandrel and bushings and put the blanks on there so there is a bushing then blank then bushing then blank then bushing. The bushings are your guide to how much you turn down the wood. Remember you can always take off more but you can't but wood back on. (or can you) Try to turn as smooth as possible so you don't have ridges.
 
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keaton42 years ago
An actual "skew" chisel will likely leave as good a finish as you will get straight of a tool, as it cuts with a shearing action, where as a scraper, well it scrapes and tends to tear the fibers more than actually cut them. As well most turners regard the scraper as a tool for face work and not center work, such as pen turning. A properly ground and sharpened spindle gouge does very well also. But a skew is ideal, as it truly shines on spindles with either straight or gradually flowing lines and will produce a finer finish than most any other tool.

The Crown "Skewchigouge" is sort of a version of a skew, and it's easier to cut with and produces good results. It's very affordable too. I often will use just it to turn out a run of 20 or 30 pens, as it's just easy to use and cuts better than most anything except a true skew.

Also, you may want to try backing the speed down a bit. I find I have good results @ 800-1000rpm when initially rounding the blank, and 1500-1800rpm when shaping.
Superninjacamper941 (author)  keaton42 years ago
Thanks for the feedback, I will definitely have to try out the "Skewchigouge"!
Wi112 years ago
Nice pens but that's not a skew, it's called a round-nose scraper. Still, it's name doesn't matter. All that matters is that this method works well for you (oh, and safety too, lol).
yyeessno4 years ago
Do you think that you would have more control/get a better finish using a gouge?
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