The good news---NO lathe is required. I decided to do this project to prove to myself and others that a lathe is not always necessary to make a handmade pen. Don't get me wrong--I'd much rather use my lathe, but I realize not everyone owns one. It normally takes me about 45 min to 1 hour to make a pen on my lathe. This one probably took about 1.5 to 2 hours. It was a lot of fun to make, and I'm confident you can make one also.
Okay---let's get started!
Step 1: A Word on Safety
Have a plan to control certain hazards: eye protection, dust, hearing protection, protection for skin. Use common sense and don't do anything you're uncertain about or don't understand.
Have fun and be safe!
Step 2: The Tools, Equipment, and Materials Needed
Pen mandrel (purchase through Penn State Industries or Woodcraft or Rockler)
Barrel trimmer (purchase through Penn Sate Industries or Woodcraft or Rockler)
Bushings (purchase from Penn State Industries or Rockler)
Electric hand drill
3/8 inch drill bit
CA Glue (Medium Super glue -- get at Hobby Lobby)
Steampunk Bolt Action Pen Kit (purchase through Pen State Industries or Rockler)
Sandpaper - 120, 220, 400 grits
Micro Mesh (optional - can purchase at Hobby Lobby)
Finish - we will discuss some options later.
Options for sanding (You will need one of these)
Dremel with sanding drum attachment
Small orbital sander
Incidentally the URL for Penn State Industries is www.pennstateind.com
Step 3: Read Your Pen Instructions
Step 4: Check Your Pen Kit
Step 5: Select Wood and Measure With Pen Tube
The good news with this particular kit is that you only have to shape one barrel for the pen. Some pen kits (like the Slimline kit) come with 2 barrels.
Step 6: Cut the Blank
Step 7: Drill Hole for Pen Tube
Step 8: Glue in the Pen Tube
Step 9: Use Barrel Trimmer to Square Up the Blanks
Step 10: Mount Blank and Bushings to Pen Mandrel
I'm also using some smaller bushings that are normally used with a pen kit called Slimline. In this case, I'm only using them as additional spacers to give me room to maneuver the blank around my sander.
The last picture shows how I've mounted everything to the mandrel. You will need a couple of channel lock pliers to tighten / untighten the morse taper end. This is the part that would normally slide into a lathe's headstock. On the opposite end is a brass nut. Use the brass nut to tighten everything into place so that the blank does not revolved around the mandrel shaft.
Step 11: Begin Sanding the Blank
Option 1 - Take a carving knife to whittle the blank down and then sand it by hand.
Option 2 - Use a Dremel with a sanding drum attachment.
Option 3 - Use a small orbital sander.
Option 4 - Use a belt sander.
Option 5 - Fix the mandrel in a vise and sand by hand with sandpaper strips
Option 6 - Attach mandrel to electric hand drill for final sanding.
I decided to use options 4, 5, & 6. A Picture is worth a thousand words. My first two pictures show me using a belt sander I bought for $50 from Harbor Freight. I used the belt sander to take off the majority of the wood. I recommend that you constantly keep the wood moving as you sand. What I did was rotate the wood blank to help create the round profile. My goal was to sand down close to the bushings but not all the way. My other goal was to leave the blank fatter in the middle.
In the next picture, I have the mandrel clamped in my bench vise, and I'm using a long 1 inch strip of 120 grit and 220 grit sand paper. I'm grabbing both ends and working it back and forth around the blank. This also helps create the round profile that's needed for the pen. Continue to sand the ends near the bushing until they are flush with the bushing. I like to run my fingernail along the wood and bushing until they are the same dimension. Be careful here not to sand on the metal bushing, because you don't want to ruin it for future pens. Too much sanding applied to the metal bushings could altar their dimensions.
Also, you need to take the sandpaper and sand lengthwise along the wood to cancel out any scratches.
In the final picture, I've taken the morse taper end off the mandrel and mounted that end into my hand drill. I placed the hand drill very carefully in the bench vise, not tightening the vise much at all (don't want to ruin the drill). Turn the drill on and sand with the 400 grit and then move to the Micro Mesh. This final sanding will bring everything to the proper dimensions and create a smooth surface along the wood.
Once done, inspect the wood blank to make sure you have a round and symmetrical profile.
Step 12: Apply a Finish
Since I had the pen mandrel already mounted in the bench vise, I decided to use my friction polish made by Hut. This is a mixture of shellac and wax, and it cures with friction. The first picture shows a bottle of the friction polish, and the next one shows me applying the polish to the wood as it's turning in the drill. I squirted out about a quarter-sized amount and then move the cloth and polish along the bottom of the wood, back and forth. You can feel some heat coming through the cloth which is good. Be careful not to let the cloth get tangled on the spinning mandrel. In fact, it would be safer to use a paper towel. Wear your safety glasses so none of the polish slings up in your eyes.
The final picture shows the pen blank after I've finished applying the friction polish. I like to give it a few minutes to completely dry and cure.
If you don't want to go the friction polish route, I you could try a wipe-on polyurethane. Read the instructions on the container and apply the finish.
Or another option would be to apply a wax and buff it or don't apply a finish.
Step 13: Assemble the Pen
In the next picture I am pressing the pen's rear-end assembly into the other end of the wood pen barrel. Again, go slow and keep everything aligned.
Final steps are to uncrew the tip, slide the ink refill into the hole, slide the spring onto the front of the ink refill, and then reattach the tip.
Slide the bolt back and forth to make sure the mechanism is working correctly. Write something on a scrap piece of paper to see how well it works.
And presto --- you're done!
Step 14: Enter the Steampunk Pen Giveaway
Go to the bottom of my post and look for the Rafflecopter Entry Form. It will direct you on how to enter the giveaway.
No purchase is required, and I will ship the pen to the winner free of charge.