Pens With No Lathe or Drill Press




Introduction: Pens With No Lathe or Drill Press

In this Instructable, I challenged myself to making a pen without a lathe or a drill press. But, let me be honest, I just don’t have those tools. The slim-line pen kits came from Rockler and they were on sale over the holiday season. The wood that was used is Cocobolo.

Step 1: Measuring and Cutting Pen Blank

Here I am measuring out the blank to be cut in half. One line is the halfway mark while the other is for alignment purposes.

Step 2: Drilling Channel for the Pen Cylinder

Here I'm using a jig to make a straighter hole for the pen cylinder.

Step 3: Cutting Off Some Excess

Here I'm cutting off some excess pen blank.

Step 4: Scuffing Up the Pen Cylinder

Use some 120 grit sandpaper to scuff up the pen cylinder.

Step 5: Glueing in the Pen Cylinder

Use CA Glue (super glue) to bond the pen cylinder into place.

Step 6: Sanding to Make Pen Blank Flush

Use the belt sander with 120 grit to make the pen blanks flush.

Step 7: Cleaning Out the Cylinders

Step 8: Mandrel and Alignment

In this step, align the blanks on the mandrel. Use the center line that was drawn on the pen blank to align where the blank was cut. This will insure the correct grain pattern.

Step 9: Belt Sanding to Rough Out Shape

Here, I'm using 120 grit sandpaper to rough out the shape of the pen.

In this step, use the backboard on the beltsander it will assist with cutting away the material faster.

Advice - take your time and leave plenty of material and avoid the bushing on the mandrel.

Step 10: Belt-Sanding to Finalize the Shape

Here, I'm using 400 grit sandpaper to create the final shape of the pen.

In this step, the sandpaper is being used without the backboard on the beltsander. This allows for the material to be slowly taken away and gives more control to the worker.

Step 11: Hand-Sanding

In this step, serveral grits of sandpaper is being used to create a glass-like finish. The sandpaper is cut into small strips approximately 1x4 inches.

Grits - 220 - 320 - 400 - 800 - 1500 - and 2000

Advice: I like using the gloves because the sanding causes a great deal of friction and will begin to burn fingers.

Step 12: Finishing

I'm just using a paste wax for the finish. Give an ample amout of wax and let sit for about twenty minutes. After letting the wax settle into the wood, clean any excess off with a rag.

Step 13: Stage One of Pen Assembly

I take the time to lay out the pen materials in their order:

First: press in the nib

Step 14: Stage Two of Pen Assembly

Second: Press in the twist mechanism.

Advice: go slow when pressing in the twist mechanism as you don't want to press it in too deep.

Test the fitting by twisting to full extension and the full closed position.

Step 15: Stage Three of Pen Assembly

Press in the cap and clip

Step 16: Final Stage of Pen Assembly

Slip on center gold ring and slide on pen cap.

Step 17: The Beautiful Pen Completed

I actually made a few pens and a Youtube video to demonstrate the process.

Make time to be creative.



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    19 Discussions

    Nice work The pen looks Amazing. Great Instructable. Thank you for sharing your very good Method without a lathe.. Very Impressive..

    1 reply

    Just for future reference, Harbor Freight has a variable speed bench top lathe that works great for pens, bottle stoppers, etc and if you watch for a sale and use the right coupons you can get it for about $100.00. Well worth it just for the therapeutic value alone. Helps me unwind a lot. Good job on the pen, keep it up.

    1 reply

    At first, I read the header to your post as:

    Penis With No Lathe or Drill Press

    you really had my curiosity...


    2 years ago

    Interesting posting. If this really is going to be your hobby, I would most certainly suggest you buy either used or new lathe to built them. I have made literally hundreds of pen/pencil sets over the years out of every conceivable type wood and acrylic and even rattlesnake skin. And a lathe will make your efforts a lot easier and faster as well. You can watch Craigslist for an old used one and it would work fine for doing that. I will say that using your belt sander machine will work for a while, but unless you're very cautious, you will turn down the metal parts real fast and then the wood sections will not be the correct diameter anymore. I know because even on a lathe that happens when sanding lots of them. But I do applaud you for an inventive way to built them.

    3 replies

    "… every conceivable wood …" I asked a friend if he could make a pen out of a particular exotic wood. Several months later, after I'd forgotten about the conversation, he surprised me with a pen made from poison ivy wood. Now I'm well equipped to write poison pen letters.

    Scumbdyoit, that brings up a really good issue. Some woods are toxic to breathing their dust. So when trying new woods, make sure you are not allergic to their dust and fibers. Exotic woods from all over the world have their issues. So read up about them if you decide to use them in your hobbies.

    This was an instructable only for its inventive
    approach. I had bought 25 pen kits a few months ago and just had to make
    a few. This is my approach at least for now. A lathe would be nice
    but the local Craigslist want retail prices so I'll just wait until I can find
    something that suits me. BTW- your reply is spot on.

    Beautifully done! :)

    Cool project! How much sandpaper did you go through for one pen?

    2 replies

    6 pieces of 1x4 various grits and two 1x30 belts - overall not that much but if I attempted to make money it would be futile.

    That's not as much as I would have thought, but yeah, you may not get a private island with that method :) Still, really cool project - I never thought of using a sander like that. Great idea!

    Great method!Clear and concise.
    You could turn them with a hand drill and a couple of v blocks?

    very nice! I'm a professional pen turner (among other woodworking) so I use a lathe, but this method is very intriguing, and I can see some potential for interesting things such as facets on the wood that would be interesting, maybe even a little hand carving.
    As an assembly tip: the indent just past the brass transmission is a guide line for how deep to set the transmission a little bit of experimenting and you ought to be able to eye ball exactly where it needs to be every time.
    Marketing tip: If you are planning on making them as gifts or for sale, I have had the most success with a straight pen with no fancy bulges, I thought bulges at the grip are would make it more ergonomic but I had several people say things like "I like this wood and metal combo, but can you make on that's straight?" I've yet to have anyone ask me to make one curvedy, but I do think they look cool.
    supplier tips: As an added bit, if you want to know, slim lines are cheapest from penn state industries, but you have to buy them in minimums of 5, but be sure to inventory every order, they've shorted me several times, and never respond to emails.
    I get my higher end fountain and roller ball kits from Beartooth Woods, they have absolutely the best customer service and decent to excellent prices.
    I hope that info is of benefit, it took about a year and a half of research, purchasing, and making to gather those tidbits, they might have been obvious to everyone else though.

    1 reply

    Thanks you just gave me and everyone else wonderful input.

    Great idea. I always wondered how to do this without a lathe.

    very awesome. Makes it even more personal of a gift.


    2 years ago

    Beauutiful finish! I've never used Cocobolo, and I know I won't be able to afford a Cocobolo desk anytime soon; but till then a pen will suit me just fine! Thanks for the upload