Introduction: Making Kubotan Pens - No Lathe Pen Challenge

About: Hi I'm Alex and I love to make stuff! I mainly work with different metals but I also love to explore new (to me) materials and dabble in woodworking, jewelry, knife making, design and many more.

Hi Instructables Community,

its been a while since I posted my last project.

Here is my entry to the "No Lathe Pen Challenge" by Bill Livolsi. If you haven't heard of this challenge I highly recommend you check it out since it has inspired over 200 videos and a lot of creativity.

I decided to make kubotan pens because I wanted to make a Kubotan for a long time and thought it was a great way to combine the two things.

At the same time I also wanted to do another giveaway for my followers since I didn't do any for my 2000 & 3000 subscriber milestones.

If you want to know more about the giveaway you should head to the last page of this Instructable.

Happy Making

Step 1: Choosing the Material & First Measurements

As a material I decided to use 10mm mild steel round stock. I thought about using other materials to such as steel tubes and brass but in the end it was a matter of getting stock in time for the project and the 10mm steel was what was available at the time.

I measured three sections of 15cm (6") and marked each (a few millimeters longer to account for loss during cutting.

Step 2: Cutting

This is pretty straight forward and you can use whatever tools for this that you might have.

In my case I used a mounted angle grinder with a 1mm cut-off wheel. But you cut use the angle grinder free hand as well or go with a hacksaw, bandsaw or whatever else is at your disposal.

Step 3: Cleaning the Cuts

The angle grinder didn't really made the cleanest of cuts and left some burrs and so I went to clean up the ends on my disk sander.

I used this opportunity to check my disk sander for squareness.

Step 4: Chucking the Rod (Optional)

For the next work step I inserted one of the rods into the chuck of my cordless drill. This will make consistent sanding much easier.

Step 5: Removing Surface Coating

The steel stock was coated with some sort of protection against corrosion. Although useful it didn't look good so I went on to remove it. This was done incredibly fast with a 120 grit belt and the rod inside of my drill chuck. I chose a slightly higher grit belt because I didn't want to loose too much material in the process.

Step 6: Semi-Polishing

After the coating was removed I cleaned up and semi-polished my rods (Excuse the pun) with a 240 grit belt. They looked quite pretty & shinny in the end.

Step 7: Prepping for Marking

In the next step I'm attempting to find the center of each rod for this reason I started by painting the ends with a blue marker. Using calipers I checked the actual diameter of the rod to be ten millimeters.

Step 8: Marking the Center

With the previous information I adjusted the calipers to 5mm and started to scribe the ends several times. The idea was that the point where the scribed lines would meet would indicate the center to me.

This worked surprisingly well and I was able to move on to center punching.

Step 9: Center Punching

With the center marked I used a center punch and a hammer to create little dimples in the center o each rod.

This dimple will give the drill in the next step something to grip and start cutting and prevent the drill from wandering off.

Step 10: Drilling the Center

If you are reader of my Instructables you know by now that I do not own a drill press. This is probably one tool I find very hard to replace or improvise. It would have been fairly easy to drill a straight hole into the rods using a drill press along with a proper machinist vise. So I had to improvise by clamping down the rods and trying to drill a parallel hole with my cordless drill and later a corded drill.

Starting with a 2mm drill I moved up to a final 4mm drill and drilled to a depth of approx. 4cm.

The improvised techniques resulted in two of the holes being slightly off-center and the whole process taking almost one hour after which I went to buy new expensive drills too.

Using plenty of cutting oil helped a lot though removing the cut chips and keeping things cool.

Step 11: Deburring

Once all holes were drilled I used a counter-sink hand tool to deburr the holes. I have since then invested in a more expensive version that is actually meant for this job and delivers much cleaner results.

Step 12: More Marking

For the next step I required a straight & parallel line to be scribed onto each pen.

I solved this by marking each rod with a blue marker and then using a drill bit with the same diameter as the rod. I ran the drill along the rod which created a nice straight line along the rods.

Step 13: More Scribing

In this step I used a scribe to determine the middle of each rod and then mark 1,5cm on either side of the center. This would give me a 3cm gap to fit a loop for one finger.

Step 14: More Punching

After I scribed all points I took my center punch again and created more dimples for later drilling operations.

Step 15: More Drilling

Once again I wished for a proper drill press to make the task at hand easier. But what can I say? Had to improvise again. The machinist vise you see in above pics was so crappy that it didn't tighten properly so I had to keep it shut with two additional clamps.

In addition I clamped the whole contraption down to the workbench which was one cause for the failure I show in the next slide.

So in this step I began to drill 2mm pilot holes using medium speed and plenty of cutting oil again. This went reasonably well until...

Step 16: ...I Broke a Bit.

This was quite annoying since the bit was brand new and on top of it all got lodged irremovably inside the bolt. This was bad and I tried for quite a while to remove it since it had already started to drill out to the other side of the bolt.

Whatever I tried nothing worked so I had to move on but not before finding the cause of the broken bit.

As you can see in the second picture the drill didn't went through straight but instead at an angle. It was caused by the clamped down vise and a bending work surface which I didn't notice during the actual drilling and tried to keep the drill straight which in the end proved too much for the drill.

Step 17: Finishing the Drilling

Since I couldn't remove the broken off drill and I didn't want to risk another I decided to drill another hole 0,5cm further down the rod.

I finished all holes with a 4mm drill and deburred them with a countersink.

Step 18: Shaping the Rods

Once again the rods were fixed into the chuck of my drill. This time however I used this technique to shape the ends of each rod.

There are a number of options here from a spike, rounded spike, dome, flat etc. I decided to go with a rounded blunt end and a slightly tapered end on the writing end.

I started with a 60 grit belt and went through 120 & 240 grits to make the surface smooth.

Step 19: Surface Texture 1: the Rock Pattern

I saw this sort of pattern used on a number of knives before and decided to give it a try. I recommend you try this on a practice piece before you move to the actual project piece.

Using a rotary tool like a Dremel with a 120 grit sanding cylinder hold the hand-piece perpendicular to the work-piece and create small indentations. Depending on your pressure and timing you can smaller or larger indentations and make them look as irregular as you like.

On this sample I went from smaller indentations to larger ones from on end to the other.

Step 20: Surface Texture 2: the Wire Brush (NSFW)

I wont encourage anyone to copy the way I did this. But once again a lack in tools led me to try this technique with my angle grinder and a wire wheel. The safer variant would be to use a wire wheel on a benchgrinder/polisher or clamp the workpiece down for this step.

Any way you choose the result will be a lot of small dimples on the surfaces of your pen.

Step 21: Surface Texture 3: Polishing

The last surface texture I chose was a polishing with 1200, 1500 & 2000 grit belts. This created a smooth polished surface and I guess with a buffing wheel this could be brought up to a mirror finish.

Step 22: Preparing the Pens

Since the holes are only 4cm deep I had to cut down the ball point refills to the according length.

One thing I didn't do however was to seal the ends of the refills after I cut them of. In the end they all leaked out and only one of the ball points was able to write :P

Step 23: Glue Up

For this project I decided to glue the tips in permanently using a two part epoxy.

So I mixed equal amounts of a fast setting epoxy and inserted it into the pen holes and then added the pen tips.

It must have been during this that the tips actually leaked out but at least they are sealed by epoxy and wont create a mess.

Although it was a fast setting epoxy I left the pens overnight to cure.

Step 24: Attaching a Loop

My initial idea was to use paracord for the loops but after some trials I decided to go with plain leather loops instead.

Both ends were threaded though the center holes and closed with simple overhand knots but if you want you can go with a fancier knot too.

Step 25: Final Pens & Double Giveaway

Despite the fact that only one of the pens can write I decided to use them in a giveaway. They still make for a great conversation starter (or ender...)

I have also painted all pens with a clear lacquer to prevent rust. This was done a while after I finished the pens and off camera (apologies for that).

The giveaway is a late celebration for me to pass 2000 & 3000 subscribers on my YouTube channel.

I will give two pens away, one for my YouTube subscribers and the other for one of my Patrons on Patreon.

So if you want to try your luck head over to my channel, subscribe and leave me a comment on the pen video. If you want to double your chances head over to Patreon and become a Patron. For as little as $1 per month you can become a supporter and get access to my patron only feed, direct influence on my projects and more giveaways.

Build a Tool Contest 2017

Participated in the
Build a Tool Contest 2017