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.
*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.
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
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.