Introduction: Hand Made Desk Pen
I’ve been turning wood and making a lot of shavings for the past 20 years, and have made quite a few pens for friends, family and colleges, However I’ve always started from a kit of parts, then created the blank pen barrel and turned the pen to a design that I liked. For a long time I have wanted to have a go at a pen without relying on wood turning suppliers for all the mechanical parts of the pen, but have only recently been able to buy some long drill bits. This is my first attempt at such a pen and is almost entirely from wood. The only part not turned is the refill, this being a simple BIC Biro.
Step 1: Materials
All the wood for this project was just spare pieces I had laying around in the workshop.
I started by using a roughing gouge to turn a long pen blank (approximately 17 cm long) between centres - into a cylinder, and then mounting this into a set of pin jaws
Step 2: Drill Bits and Safety
With the blank in the jaws the next step is the most important.
That is to drill the center out of the wood to take the BIC re-fill when finished. I measured the portion of the re-fill between the ink tube and the nib and used the closest drill bit I could find (4mm). The bit length is 160 mm.
Safety Point– Advance the tail stock slowly holding the chuck to prevent possible spinning, more importantly stopping it from binding and pulling out of the tail stock as you remove the bit from the wood. I've had this happen and it can be a scary moment to watch a bent drill bit spinning on the lathe with the chuck still attached.
With that said just take your time and retract the bit regularly to remove the waste wood. Once the hole was finished I used another drill bit to measure the depth.
Using the depth I reset the drill bit in the chuck so that it was shorter than the length of the hole, I also transferred the length to the pen blank making a mark with a pencil.
Step 3: Starting to Turn
Turning a thin peace with no end support is not easy, and if you don’t have to do it, then don’t. To support the wood while turning the remainder of the shaping was done with the drill bit left in place on the tail stock. Before finishing the pen shape I used a parting tool to mark the final length of the pen (approx. 1 cm past the length of the hole in the blank. At the same time I tidied up the nib end of the pen to give me a definite point to shape the pen down to
Step 4: Shaping the Pen
The rest of the pen shape was created using a skew chisel, I think this a great tool that gives a near perfect finish with practice. (NOTE I need more practice).
I set a pair of calipers to the diameter of the BIC nib and shape the business end of the pen to this size, tapering it down from a slight bead. The rest of the pen is narrower than the this section – this gives the user something to hold and better control the nib in use.
For decoration I put a double bead at the mid point and a rounded over bead on the end of the pen.
Step 5: Removing the Rough
I like to seal the grain on pens, it helps to keep the color for longer and makes it easier to polish the pen. To do this I heat up some mineral oil and melt into this bees wax. The mix is approximately 80:20 oil to wax. Don’t be too fussy on this. The mixture is a really lose emulsion, apply a little using your fingers (its good for your skin) make sure the pen is covered then wipe off the excess and start sanding – it does clog the grit on the paper so you might want to switch to something like Abranet (this is a wire mesh material that comes in various grits and is great for sanding)
Finally I sand along the grain using 400 grit Abranet, this removes any stray sanding lines around the circumference of the pen.
Parting the pen of is simple because it is still supported on the drill bit, as it comes off the stock it will just slide along the drill and away from the chuck.
Step 6: Fitting the Refill
To fit the refill you will find that a little PTFE tape helps here, as it is very unlikely that you will find a drill bit that is exactly the size you need, the tape allows you to get a snug fit without using glue and makes it simple to replace the refill when empty.
Step 7: Start on the Base
For the base another piece of scrap cut roughly to shape by taking the corners off on the band saw. It was then turned round between centres. It needed a recess on both sides so, I set a pair of callipers to the diameter of my chuck and scribed a circle on one side with the lathe turning. I then cut the recess using a parting tool one ring at a time. Once I had the first recess it was a simple matter of remounting the piece back on the lathe, this time on the jaws, using the recess just cut. I then formed the second recess and shaped/finished the bottom of the pen base
Step 8: Shaping the Base
The pen would need somewhere to stand so I marked a point between the recess and the edge and then used an old coal chisel to place the disk at an angle on my bench drill and made a 10 mm hole at the punch mark. This would make the pen stand at an angle when in place.
I then remounted the wood on the lathe and finished turning the base using a small spindle gouge. Its basically a shallow bowl with a rounded edge. I made sure not to remove too much on the out side of the base as this would have opened up the hole on the outer edge and weakened the support for the pen.
Step 9: Finishing the Pen
Finishing the base started as with the pen, by sealing the wood grain using the bees wax and oil mixture. With this done I polished both the pen and the bas using three grades of buffing wheel (coarse, medium and fine) with an appropriate cutting compound on the first two and carnauba wax on the final wheel.
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