Realistic Cigar Pens

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Introduction: Realistic Cigar Pens

About: Engineer by trade, amateur woodworker and author in the off-hours. Most commonly, I build flag boxes for retiring military members and occasionally gifts and furniture when the opportunities arise. Outside of …

There is no shortage of wide-barreled cigar pens and their even larger screw-capped cousins available to the apprentice woodturner, so in order to make a pen stand out you need to provide some real creativity. Modifying the metal parts, changing the profiles, and building up blanks consisting of many colors, woods and castings are certainly all viable strategies, but have you changed the true form of a pen?

It's time to make one look like a real, lit cigar!

Construction-wise, these aren't too much more difficult than a normal pen, although they are ideally turned on a closed mandrel. I don't have one of those in my arsenal yet, so I used a Vicmarc chuck with extended jaws and a standard pen mandrel with extra pressure.

Supplies

Basic pen-turning setup:

lathe

https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PENPALSS.html

core set of turning chisels

pen mandrel

https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKMBLB2.html

pen kit of choice, along with the bushings/drill bits to match

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/navigator-screw...

Wood turning blanks large enough for the barrel, at least 7/8" square

-body

-cutoff for burning embers

-cutoff for ash

Optional: Dremel rotary tool to form ash

Step 1: Assembling the Blank

Starting this adventure requires a little prep on the blank. Choose a body that resembles tobacco leaves, ideally a medium-brown wood with plenty of figure. Square off the sides and ends.

Because we want to give the pen the appearance of being lit, we will need to add some material to the end. To do this, I went to the box of leftovers and used a 1/8" layer of double-dyed black/red stabilized burl for the embers and some dark buckeye for the ash, since it is the closest you can get to gray. The length is up to you but ~3/8" seems to look good. Trim these down and assemble with some high-strength glue that will react well with the stabilized blanks.

Step 2: Shaping the Blank

If you have a closed-end mandrel, this is where our paths diverge and you can take the easy road. Ideally, you'd split the blank to make room for the brass inserts, drill each piece on a press and then move to the lathe.

As an alternative method and since the blank was a little long, I started on the lathe. Mark the blank's center and trim the corners. Clamp the end of the blank in the chuck and center it on the tail.

Shaping the blank is easy, you just need a uniform cylinder. Remove the material slowly so you don't take too much, then sand it until you like the look. I usually go up past 1000x, then add sanding wax to get an even shine.

Once there, use the Dremel and a round bit to chew up the buckeye ash at the end. There's no pattern to follow, you just need to deform it a little.

At this point I used a razor saw to split the blank. This was my solution to get a small kerf and have the grain marry back up after assembly. I've had more successful attempts but I think this is better than cutting the blank on a miter saw and losing 3/32" of grain structure.

Step 3: Drilling for the Brass Centers

As I mentioned, this part is just as easily done on a drill press, but I wanted to push the limit on how well aligned I could get the blanks. Wrap the finished blank in a single-layer show towel and secure it back in the chuck.

Pen turning gives you no shortage of crazy-sized bits to fit the outside of the brass tubes. For this project, we also need a step down to sink and conceal the center band and provide for the extended depth required for the spring behind the pen mechanism.

For Woodcraft's Navigator kit, I needed a 9/16" bit to cut the recess for the band, 25/64" and 15/32" for the tubes, and a 7mm for the spring.

The ash side became the cap for my pen, so I started with the 9/16, checked the fit constantly, then moved down to the 15/32" and repeated the process on the opposite side. Once I was done with the writing end, I added a 7mm (checked the size by sigh) hole at the back that went 3/4" deep for the spring, since we won't have the metal end cap.

Step 4: Assembly and Finishing

Almost there now.

Glue the brass tubes into the holes; I used clear polyurethane glue for extra strength.

Line up your metal parts and press them together in a vise. Remember, the goal is to have the grain line up perfectly so this takes some patience.

To complete the look, I add real cigar bands. If you're not keen on buying cigars just for the bands, some shops will give them out if you ask or sell them by the bag. Add CA glue across the back of the band and wrap it on the barrel, but be careful since you only have one shot. (big reminder, if you're making a fountain pen, match the band to the top of the tip)


Complete the pen with a finish of your choice. I went with Renaissance Wax for the warm satin look.

Step 5: Complete the Setup!

For the full effect on your desk, turn the ashtray from some burl and drop the buckeye shavings in the bottom.

Good luck with your own!

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    12 Comments

    0
    muadibe
    muadibe

    6 months ago

    I haven't smoked for the last 15 years, but I can taste cigar right now. A really impressive job well done. The effort you put in is clear to see.

    0
    MissionSRX
    MissionSRX

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thank you for checking out my work and for the kind words!

    0
    zackn75
    zackn75

    Question 6 months ago

    What style lathe are you using?

    0
    MissionSRX
    MissionSRX

    Answer 6 months ago

    I've been running a Jet 1642 EVS 120v for about 10 years now, with a Jet 1014 mini before that. Thanks for checking out the project!

    0
    artworker
    artworker

    6 months ago

    Such an awesome work of art! I totally dig fountain pens. This is at another level.

    0
    MissionSRX
    MissionSRX

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks so much! They're certainly a fun and unique way to improve the pen turning skill set.

    0
    JAMESM466
    JAMESM466

    6 months ago

    I did something similar, without the wood turning. Sometimes cigars get “plugged” when a tight spot in the tobacco restricts air flow. One way to fix this is to run a thin poker up through the length of the cigar. I had a small block of Spanish cedar that I shaped with files and sandpaper to approximate a box-pressed cigar shape. I drilled the end and epoxied in a sharpened brass rod. I daubed some paint to replicate the ash end, added a label and finished it with urethane. I’d love a pen to match.

    66FE4112-B95D-442A-99AD-4C093AA73331.jpeg
    0
    MissionSRX
    MissionSRX

    Reply 6 months ago

    Well done! Very cool project and good to know

    0
    WardS13
    WardS13

    Question 6 months ago

    Where do you get the labels?

    0
    MissionSRX
    MissionSRX

    Answer 6 months ago

    From cigars. :)
    But really, I just asked at a local cigar shop for some old cigar bands. They gave me a few but also sell them by the bag.
    You can also find them new and used on Ebay.

    0
    pemazzei
    pemazzei

    6 months ago

    What a longing when it was possible to buy a "Dona Flor Robusto"! Paulo, from Brazil

    0
    LincolnsCreations
    LincolnsCreations

    Question 6 months ago

    Do you sell these? If so, how much for each and/or 6-8 of them? My father and his buddies (I try to go to) usually go to Las Vegas in April/May each year. I would be interested in maybe bringing these as a token gift for the guys one year.