Introduction: Wooden Pen Cup

About: I'm Jack and I like to make stuff :)

This Christmas my mom asked me to make her a new pen jar for her desk. The one she has currently is too deep and makes it hard to find whatever you are looking for. It seemed like a fun, small project, so I took her up on it and consulted the scrap pile.

Step 1: Making the Octagon

We found some nice pieces of maple in the scrap pile (both Oregon and Eastern) and we planed them down to half and inch. The making of the pieces was not documented very well, but it is fairly simple. To make an octagon each piece has to be cut to 22.5 degrees on both sides. We did this on the table saw and chopped them into strips on the chop saw. The pieces were 4 inches long which was longer than the final dimensions were intended to be. The only tricky part was figuring out how wide to make each strip to accomplish a final inside diameter of about three inches. This could have been determined with geometry, but instead we experimented by cutting plywood strips, lining them up, and measuring. The final cut ended up making pieces that tapered roughly from 1 1/8 inches to 1 5/8 inches, which got it pretty close to a 3 inch diameter.

We laid out the pieces, alternating between the two types of maple, and attached them all with masking tape. This is where the photos started being taken again. After a dry-fit, we waxed all the faces that would be inside the cup, and laid glue in the joints.

The masking tape held everything well enough, so no clamps were necessary. The whole assembly glued up very nicely and I was surprised at the lack of gaps.

Step 2: The Top and Bottom

Once the initial glue up was dried, we chopped off the ends on the chop saw to make sure that the top and bottom of the cup were level. I wanted a contrasting color on the top and bottom of the cup, so we sawed up a some walnut squares on the bandsaw and flattened them with the drum sander. We glued the bottom piece on with a couple clamps.

For both the top and bottom, the plan was to glue, then cut off the excess on the bandsaw, and trim it flush with the router table. However, the top need to be open, so we drilled a large hole with a forsner bit before we glued it on. Then, using the handheld router, we trimmed the inside flush. I think that at the time, the router table was set up for another project, which is why I ended up trimming the top with the handheld router. This did make it a little sloppier, since there was less surface area to slide along, but it worked out.

Step 3: Finishing Up

I think I sanded everything down to at least 150 grit, maybe 180. If desired, I could have done a lot more shaping and rounded out the side to turn this into a circular cup. But I didn't want to. The octagon looks cleaner.

We started finishing with a coat of Amber Shellac, to make the colors pop. Then, after scuff sanding, a coat of clear polyurethane. I wiped the shellac on and sprayed the polyurethane, which was just sanded with a "super fine" scuff pad. Just for kicks I waxed the cup by wiping on a bunch of wax, and then wiping off what hadn't been absorbed.

Step 4: Final Thoughts

This is a very simple design, and the process is just basic wood working, but I think the product is very elegant and beautiful. It serves it's purpose well on my mom's desk, and she is very pleased and impressed.

This project can be accomplished without some of the large tools I have access to and is definitely a very simple, fun, and beautiful gift for anyone you care about.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2015

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2015