It’s been years since I’ve turned any pens. With a new Nova Comet II midi lathe, an MT2 pen mandrel and a Mandrel Saver live center, turning out beautiful pens and pencils is more enjoyable than ever. So far, all of my pen kits and supplies are from Penn State Industries (PSI), but I hope to branch out to some of the other suppliers and try their kits and supplies, too. Being frugal, and I thought it would be a fun challenge, I designed and built my own self-centering Pen Blank Vise for drilling out pen blanks on the drill press. It works well, but I also ordered a set of pen blank jaws for the Nova G3 scroll chuck, so I will probably be drilling most of my pen blanks right on the lathe. This is an ongoing project page, so check back once in a while for updates!
Gluing barrels into Brazilian Cherry blanks with CA.
This barrel trimmer is a new piece of kit for me. It works great if it’s fed slowly. I accidentally blew out the end of a cocobolo blank, but I was able to save it with CA glue and the vise.
Blanks trimmed down to the barrels.
Blanks mounted on the MT2 mandrel system, with compression provided by the Mandrel Saver in the tailstock.
My first experience with Aussie Oil, a friction finish done right on the lathe. I think it’s basically a 1:1:1 mixture of shellac, denatured alcohol and linseed oil.
After sanding to about 1200 grit, six coats of Aussie Oil put a beautiful shine on the blanks.
Components for a Slimline Pro click pen kit.
Completed Slimline Pro click pen with Brazilian Cherry barrels and an Antique Brass finish.
Walnut blanks from a log my brother gave me several years ago.
Finished walnut barrels.
Completed Slimline Pro click pen with walnut barrels and an Antique Brass finish.
Finished barrels from a special piece of cocobolo.
Completed 5mm Sketch Pencil with cocobolo barrels and a Chrome finish. This kit uses a fat 5mm lead.
Cross cutting Brazilian Cherry blanks to length for a couple of pen and pencil sets.
Aligning my home made pen blank drilling vise with a length of 1/2 brass rod.
Drilling the pen blanks with an 8mm brad point bit.
The 8mm brad point bit produces a very clean bore in this Brazilian Cherry.
Blanks drilled and ready for CA gluing in the Slimline Pro barrels. I appreciate how the barrels are coming from PSI already roughed up, eliminating the need to hand sand each of them for better adhesion.
Making a Brazilian Cherry pen and pencil set for Linda’s Mother’s Day, I realized that the SlimLine Pro has both pen and pencil kits, so I wouldn’t have needed to buy two pen kits and a pencil conversion kit
Finished barrels setting up over night
Second set of barrels setting up on the lathe
Lots of pieces from the kits to keep straight
My woodworking vise has worked great for assembly so far
SlimLine Pro 24kt Gold Pen and (converted) Pencil set
Pen and Pencil set tip details
A DIY jig makes cutting 3/4″ x 3/4″ pen blanks safe and efficient
Drilling pen blanks on the lathe with pen blank jaws mounted on the G3 scroll chuck
An 8mm brad point bit in the drill chuck mounted in the tailstock
The barrel insertion tool ended up being more trouble than it was worth
Trimming pen blanks with the carbide barrel trimmer mounted in the tailstock of the lathe
Ebony pen bodies ready for sanding and finishing
A sharp roughing gouge and a light touch produce pen bodies ready for sanding
Dust collector positioned to capture ultra fine sanding dust from micro mesh sanding pads
Ebony and gold pen and pencil set completed
Ebony and titanium pen completed
Batching pen blanks from zebrawood, Brazilian cherry, and a sample of finger-jointed maple
Cutting pen blanks to length with the Incra miter gage and stop block set up
Pen blank sets marked to maintain grain orientation
Drilling a zebrawood pen blank on the lathe
Ready to glue in a batch of brass tubes
Watching for tiny brass shavings on the barrel trimmer indicates the proper depth of trimming
A trimmed maple blank in the pen blank jaws
A satisfying pile of chips after roughing several pan blank sets
Another set ready for sanding and finishing, with other sets in the background
Wiping on six coats of Aussie Oil friction finish
Six sets of finished pen barrel sets ready for assembly
Three projects in the shop at one time
Pen kit finishes selected for each wood species
The wood working vise works well for pen assembly
Maple and Antique Brass click pen
Maple pen showing finger jointing in gift box
Brazilian cherry and titanium click pen and pencil set
Brazilian cherry set in gift box
Zebrawood and gold click pen and pencil set
Zebrawood set in gift box
Three birthday gifts, ready to go
Brazilian Cherry blank for a Seam Ripper Kit
Sanding steps with dust collection in place
Final sanding is glossy, even before any finish applications
Seam Ripper body finished with six coats of Aussie Oil
Double-ended Seam Ripper Kit with seam ripper and stiletto ends