Make Your Own Pen Press

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Introduction: Make Your Own Pen Press

About: I'm just a guy that likes to make things.

I started turning pens and found it very enjoyable. One part of the pen making process I found difficult, was pressing the parts together with a clamp. I was still able to get the job done but it was slow and awkward to use a clamp.

I realized that I would need a dedicated pen press if I was going to continue making pens. I decided to make my own pen press and include some handy features. This pen press is easy to adjust by rotating spacers in and out as well as a micro adjust. It is fitted with a long handle to add leverage while pressing parts.

Step 1: Materials Needed and Dimesions

Most of the materials need for this build can be found lying around a well stocked shop.
Materials
*3/16 metal rod

*Horizontal push/pull toggle clamp

*You can use whatever wood you have but hardwood or plywood would be a better choice.

*5 minute epoxy

If you will to make a handle, it would be a good idea to use metal pipe or tubing as a Ferrule.This will make the handle more durable and lessen the chance of breaking.

Dimensions:

Base: 4 1/2 in by 12in

Back stop: 2 inch (add 3/8 of an inch if using dado for joinery) by 4 1/2 in.

Front plate: 1 1/2 in by 4 1/2 inchs

Spacers: 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches

Handle: 1 1/4 by 7 inches

Step 2: Additional Information

I have a full build video available on youtube. If you are interested in making your own please make sure to check it out.

Step 3: Preparing the Base

* Base*
I started by cutting a piece of 3/4 inch cherry to the final dimension.

My table saw does not accept a dado stack therefore this is my method for cutting a dado.

I started by marking two lines on the base. These two lines are the exact thickness of the board that will become the back stop of the press.

I used a square to transfer the lines from the top to the sides of the board.

With my crosscut sled installed, I set the table saw blade height to 3/8 of an inch.

I made the first pass as close to line as possible. I continued to make passes on the table saw sliding the board about an 1/16th of an inch at a time. When I was close to the other line I checked for fit and until it was a perfect fit.

Step 4: Making the Spacers and Rail

*Making a template for the spacer*
With the back stop in position, I set the toggle clamp into position. I cut a piece of cardboard to an approxiimate shape. It should allow for the clamp foot to be in its path but when rotated it should be out of its path.

I used a screw driver to hold the template until I was sure the template was perfect. The screw driver make a mark on the template as well as the back stop.

I used that template to make several spacers blocks and drilled a 1/4 hole through the mark the screwdriver made in the earlier step.

I cut a small piece of wood that would act as a from plate. This piece will be removable and will be attached with screws later.
*Cutting the rail to size*
With all the backstop and front plate in place I measured for thelength and marked. The rod will be 1/2 in longer than the inside measurement.

Step 5: Dry Fit and Test

I drilled a 1/4 inch hole on the backstop as well as the front plate. The hole should be 1/4 depth. (Do not drill all the way through.)

Dry fitting the entire set up paid off. I realized I needed to round the corner on the spacers. After rounding the corners, everything was working great. The spacers rotated completely out of the way.

Step 6: Glue Up and Finish

I glued the back stop in place, making sure it was square. I realized this back stop would take most of the pressure while pressing and decided to make a couple of braces for the back stop.These braces can be as simple or ornate as you like.

Once everything was glued up, I applied a coat of boiled linseed oil.

Step 7: Making a Handle

This step is not necessary but I figured I would enhance the performance and looks of the press if I made a handle. The longer handle will give me extra leverage when pressing parts.

I glued a couple of pieces of wood together to make a handle blank.

Once the blank was dry, I drilled a centered 1/4 inch hole on one end. I chucked the blank in my lathe and started to turn it round.

Working on the end with the hole, I turned it down to the exact inside dimension of my ferrule material. In my case it was a piece of aluminum tubing.

I used 5 minute epoxy to set the ferrule in place.

Once the epoxy dried, I began to work on turning the blank down to a comfortable handle profile.

After sanding and finish, I parted the handle from the rest of the blank.

Step 8: Affix the Handle

I removed the Plastic handle from the toggle clamp using a utility knife.

I used a drill and a 1/4 drill bit to elongate the hole on the handle I made. I continued to check for fit until the metal handle fit snug into the elongated hole of the wood handle.

I used 5 min epoxy to permanently attached the handle to the clamp

Step 9: Final Assembly

I set the metal rod in place and slid the spacers through the rod.

I used a small amount of C.A. glue to temporarily hold the front plate. Then I turned the assembly on its side and predrilled two holes. I drove two 1 1/4 inch wood screws through the base and into the front plate.

I secured the toggle clamp to the base using four 1/2 in screws.

In order to protect the pen parts, I cut a piece of HDPE and attached it to the adjustment bolt of the clamp. Since HPDE does not bind with most glues or epoxies, I heated up the bolt and Pressed it onto the HDPE. I also used an additional piece of HDPE to make a spacer that could be easily lifted out of place.

I have a full video of my process for attaching HDPE to a bolt on my Youtube channel if interested on more information.

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    33 Discussions

    Do you have any specific measurements from the ends of the base for the plates? What do you do with the pens you make? Sell them at swap meets, craft shows, online, etc.?

    Moy Perez, please add at the top what a pen press is! I have no idea either.

    When you buy or make a lathe and make pens, the pen kits can be put together using a pen press. A long clamp, 12 inches will do the same job if you fasten it to a bench or board. Pens are fun to make and give away.

    These pens were made using a slim-line kit, $1.47 each kit, from Penn-State. The center bands were discarded because I made my own out of a contrasting color of wood. These pens have a Keltic Knot design and it is made by cutting on the table saw at the angel you chose in increments of six divisions. There are lots of views on YouTube. Have fun and be safe.

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    GEE! That's a great looking tool to help make all of those Custom Ball Point pens in your pictures! They'd make some terrific stocking sufferers for people who are hard to buy for! Clever!

    Mr Cadillac of Pen presses. Nice Job on the press. After making pens for years, my press of choice is a clamp 12 inches long turned up side down. Works easier than the two I bought for $39.95 !!! If it is made by you, you will appreciate the press more than one purchased (maybe)- I did.

    That was a great build man. Good job and a fine concept.

    I wish I had the skills and confidence to try making pens.

    5 replies

    You could totally make pens. The start up cost can be expensive though. I got into the hobby by making my own drill powered lathe. I also made my own mandrel so the start up cost was minimal.

    I too would like to start, and I've been told that it's really easy once you get started. The hardest part is getting the starting tools!

    It is alot of fun to make pens. I started out with the bare minimum. I made my own lathe and mandrel. I received a small set of carbide tool as a gift and I was ready to go.

    Yeah and the place to put them... A lathe takes a lot of place in a condo...

    :(

    Little trick for non-dado owner...

    I do like he said two cuts with my table saw. Then I remove the middle with my router. I could do all with the router, but you get nicer edge with your table saw. And removing the middle will be easier with your router. Plus you wont need the exact width or router bit, as long as it is equal or smaller to your channel.

    Cool project, but can't you just use the end-stock on the lathe as a press?

    2 replies

    Sure you can, several different types of clamp can also be used. The pen press makes is alot faster and I have alot more control.

    Sure, you would probably want to grab a piece of wood or plastic in a chuck and have one with tap in the back you can put on your center on the tail stock but it would work. Good idea if you dont have storage space for accessories.

    Great video Man,I really enjoyed it & found it easy to follow.Thank you,James.

    1 reply