Introduction: Making a Galaxy Inspired Epoxy Pen
When it comes to woodturning making an ink pen is one of those projects that everyone should give a try. So I decided to put my own spin on to this classic project and see if I could come up with something kind of cool involving epoxy and some white ash that I had laying around. What I came up with was this really interesting look of almost like a Galaxy inspired pen so this the process I used to make the pen. This will just be a bit of an overview of the steps I took while making us if you would like it to read a full write-up and article on how I made this cool looking pen head over to my website jpaynewoodworking.com.
Step 1: Printing the Molds
One thing I decided to do a little different on this particular project was to use the 3D printer to design and print out what I was hoping would be a reusable mold for the pen blanks. While this did not quite work as well as I was hoping as the resin I used was much less flexible than I had previously thought it would be it still was a cool concept and was a learning experience. I used Fusion 360 to design the molds before printing them out on the zortrax inkspire liquid 3D printer. This made the molds very precise and eliminated the worry of any type of sizing problems for the pen blanks. Not only did it print out a precise mold but it look really cool while doing so.
Step 2: Cutting the Wood to Size
With the molds printed I went ahead and cut down the White Ash to a size that would fit inside the molds. I did this keeping in mind the that I wanted the grains of the wood to set the vertical inside the mold wow only taking up half the space. Worried that the wood would take up too much space and after turning down to a smaller size for a pen it might look unbalanced if there was too much wood or epoxy showing I decided to try to fill up as close to exactly half of them old as I could with each. This was quite a simple process using the band saw and taking a couple of measurements from the molds to cut down the wood where it's set perfectly inside of the mold.
Step 3: Preparing the Molds
Preparing the molds was a little bit of a learning curve as these were solid and not made of individual pieces that could be pre-taped and prepared beforehand. Using packing tape I covered the top opening of the mold and cut the tape to shave with a razor blade. after the tape was cut I pressed the tape down into place repeating this process several times over each and every surface of the inside of the mold. I also made sure to overlap the tape in multiple areas to ensure a complete coverage of the inside of the mold. I was really hoping to get to use these molds more than once so I did not want epoxy sticking to the inside so prepping with packing tape was essential.
Step 4: Placing the Wood
After prepping the molds and getting all of the sides completely taped and ready for the epoxy I used hot glue to hold down the wood pieces inside of the molds. Normally I would seal every seam around the wood to ensure no epoxy would leak between the wood in the mold, but for this particular project that was unnecessary as all of the outermost layers would be turned away on the lathe. I did however want to ensure that they would would not move once the epoxy was poured. So a single bead of hot glue on the back and bottom of the pieces of wood made sure there would be no problems with floating or movement inside the mold.
Step 5: Mix and Pour the Epoxy
While the process of mixing the total boat epoxy with the KP pigments is the exact same as any other epoxy project for this one I decided to do a two-color pour. I decided to use a Galaxy color shift and a beautiful red color from KP pigments as I thought these colors would be complementary to each other. Pour both colors from opposite ends of the mold at the same time. I was really hoping for a more distinct color line once finished but when doing poor such as this it is difficult to know exactly what you're going to get until after it is cured and you get to see the final product. With that being said I am extremely happy with all the colors came out the red took a little more precedence over the color shift with these beautiful wisps of the color shift looking like galaxies floating in a red background.
Step 6: Let the Epoxy Cure and Remove Molds
After letting the epoxy cure in the pressure tank fully I removed the molds from the tank and proceeded with removing the pen blanks from the mold. As previously stated I was hoping to be able to reuse the molds made by the 3D printer. The resin used during a 3D printing process was a flexible resin that wound up not being nearly as flexible as I had anticipated. Due to this I was not able to reuse the molds and literally had to destroy them to remove the pen blanks.
Step 7: Drill the Hole for the Pen Barrel
Once your blanks are completely removed from the molds your next step should be to drill out the hole in the center of the blanks that will house the pen Barrel. This is Dawn using a 7 mm drill bit if you are making a Slimline pen. The best way to do this is to use pin Jaws on your lathe chuck to secure the blank on to the lathe. Using the drill chuck tailstock drill the whole completely through the length of your blank. Before starting to drill do your best to center the pen blank to ensure as little wobble as possible as this can affect the size of the hole you bore into the center. Take your time and do not rush this process as it is essential that the barrel fits correctly inside your pen blank.
Step 8: Cut the Blank to Length
After drilling the hole for the barrel into your blank precisely measure the barrel or barrels that will be used for the particular pen kit you have. Not all pen kits are Styles use the same length or size barrel. Check the length on both barrels if more than one is in your kit to ensure that you cut both of the blanks to the proper size. If the barrels for your kit are two different sizes be sure to cut your blanks accordingly. I also prefer to cut the blank slightly longer than what is needed for the barrel. This will allow for the flattening of the blank and the barrel with the pen mill to ensure a proper fit.
Step 9: Install the Barrel
Install the barrel or barrels into your pen blanks by first using sandpaper to rough up the outer sides of the barrel. This will increase the surface area of the barrel allowing for better adhesion for whatever adhesive you use gluing the barrel into place. This can be done simply with 80 grit sandpaper and spinning the barrel pinched between the pieces of sandpaper. Once the barrel is prepared apply a moderate bead of CA glue or two-part epoxy to the outside of the barrel. Make sure to not go over the ends of the barrel with the adhesive as you do not want adhesive inside the barrel. As you press the barrel into the hole inside the length of the pen blank spin the pen blank to ensure proper coding of adhesive inside the opening.Press the barrel completely into the pen blank insuring a slight amount of material if the blanks are cut long on each side of the barrel. Once this is done about all the adhesive to completely dry before moving on.
Step 10: Flattening the Barrel
Using a pen Mill tool flatten the end of the barrel with a drill. You should not remove very much material if any from the top of the barrel. This process flattens the top of the barrel and also flushes up the end of the blank with the barrel as well as removes any adhesive that may have drain into the ends of the barrel while sitting the barrel into place. Do not get overly aggressive or angle your drill while doing this process as it could damage the ends or inside of the barrel. Repeat this process on each end of both barrels.
Step 11: Turn to Desired Shape
Install your pen Blanks on to the pen mandrel on the lathe and begin to turn to shape. This is completely user preference on how you would like the shape of the pen. For this particular project I decided to go with a somewhat larger shape that was contoured to fit into your hand. I also wanted to preserve as much of the material as I could as this would help with the look of the pen.The bushings of the pen mandrel are also the same size as the larger diameter of the pen components of a Slimline pen kit. This can be used as reference to the thickness and size of the material while turning as well as ensuring a proper fit to the pen components.
Step 12: Sanding and Finishing
Once you have the pin barrels shaped to the desired rough shape start with the sanding process. Starting with rougher grit between 80 and 120 grit and shape the barrel to its final desired shape. Once you have achieved the shape completely move on two higher grit sandpaper. When sanding above 600 grit I highly recommend a wet sanding technique. For more information on the wet sanding technique make sure to go to the website article. At this point do not send higher than 1000 Grit. Using a CA glue of your choice in this case I used to Starbond thin, apply the CA glue finish and allow to completely dry before wet sanding the Finish up to 12000 Grit micro mesh.Wipe clean any sanding residue before moving on to polishing. Using a Polish of your choice polish the Finish to a high shine.
Step 13: Pen Assembly
Remove the pin from The Mandrell and prepare your press. This can be done with a pin press or a vice if a pin press is not available. Start by installing the tip of the pin into the end of the barrel in which you want to be the base of the pen. Press the tip into the barrel until it is seated completely. By hand install the transmission piece of the kit into the opposite end of the barrel of which you just installed the tip. You will notice on the transmission above the brass caller is a predominant indented line. This is your depth mark for installation of the transmission. Press the transmission to the line into the barrel making sure not to pass the line on the transmission. Install the pen cartridge into the transmission and twist the transmission to ensure the pen cartridge protrudes from the tip at the proper length. With the cartridge still in place place the center ring over the transmission and press the second pin Barrel into place. Remember to align the blanks you have made to whatever configuration you would like the pen to have once finished. Now press on the pain of butt cap as well as the pocket clip. As with the previous step on the pocket clip where you would like it to be positioned on the pan before pressing the butt cap into place. Now you're ready to write.
Step 14: Jot Something Down
Now your pen is completely assembled and you can enjoy riding until your heart and hands are content. These make for great gifts and are a super easy project especially for someone new until lathe turning. Pans are also very customizable and can be done in many shapes sizes and colors. So this is something that once you have learned the technique you can be experimental and try to come up with interesting and new ideas.
I hope you have learn something in this helps if you are planning on making a pan. For a full in-depth article as well as links to some of the tools and supplies used check out jpaynewoodworking.com as well as subscribe on YouTube to my channel Jpayne Woodworking. And four daily pictures and videos follow me on Instagram @jpaynewoodworking.com thank you for reading and like always I will see you on the next one.
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