Introduction: Turrning a European Style Wooden Pen
Turning wooden pens is a fast turning operation, that is great for gifts, practice, or just making a great pen. These pens are made with kits that go from around 7$ for a smaller pen with a standard blank, to 50$+ for high quality pens with rare burl blanks. This is a European style pen from woodcraft and the blank is a piece of claro walnut left over from another project. I use the HUT Perfect Pen Polish or P.P.P. to finish it and it is turned on a 12 by 24 jet mini lathe.
Step 1: Material
For this project you will need:
a pen mandrel and the proper bushings
a pen kit and a matching drill bit
a barrel trimmer that matches your pen kit
turning tools (i actually only used a roughing gouge)
a drill press
and a saw
Step 2: Blank Preperation
for this you'll want a nice piece of wood, that's at least 3/4 on an inch think. the nice thing about turning pens is that pretty much all other woodworking projects will give you some scrap that is big enough to make a pen out of. you can also buy nicer pen blanks or laminated blanks for fancier pens. you can laminated your own blanks if you want, and this works well if you want a cool effect or have thinner scrap lying around. there are also some amazing laser cut pen blanks that you can get that have puzzles and flags and the like in them.
once you have your scrap, use the copper pipes in the kit to make sure the pieces are the right length. drill a 7mm hole through the pen and supper glue the tube in. its better to use a thin to medium glue. if you use a medium super glue, or some other glue scuff up tube a bit with sandpaper so it stick better. then use a barrel trimmer to get it clean and squared up. Mount it on the mandrel with the appropriate bushings and take it over to your lathe.
Step 3: Turning and Polishing
now we finally get to use the lathe. mount the mandrel on the lathe and use your tail stock to steady it. when i turn pens, i tend to actualy only use my rouging gouge or 1" rounded scarper, because they have a wide cutting radius, and it is easier to turn larger radius's and smooth lines, and harder to make the small deep cuts that mess up projects. if you want to put in ridges, or some type of grip you could use a smaller gouge or maybe even a skew, but i haven't ever been successful with that sort of thing. IMPORTANT make sure you correctly turn the smaller blank and large blanks to size. if you reverse them, your pen wont work, or it will look strange
now that you've turned your pen you finally get to see the beauty of the wood. first sand the pen to about 220-400 grit and buff it with 0000 steel wool. now you have many options as to what to do. you could leave it be if it is a wood that take a good natural polish. you could polish it with carnuba wax and a buffing wheel. you could aply some paste wax or Renaissance wax with a rag. you could friction polish it, or you can do what i did and use PPP. PPP is a polish made by HUT that comes in a bar. its easy to use because you just rub it on the spinning blank, and the buff it off with a rag, all without turning off the lathe. you and also leave it at satin gloss or take it up to high gloss if you want to.
Step 4: Final Notes
pen assembly is pretty straight forward for this type of pen. just use a clamp with wood, plastic, or soft jaws to press the pieces together. the most important part is to get the tube lengths right or the pen won't actually come out of the tip, thought it's to late at this point itfyou have them wrong and you'll have to strip the wood off the tubes and start over.
the pens should stay-polished , but they will dull to a satin sheen with handling if you want to ploish them up again, i would recomend a unloaded buffing wheel so that you don't take the layer of gold off of the fittings.
and there you have it, enjoy your new pen.
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