As The Lathe Turns #64: Higher End

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Blog entry by William posted 11-27-2013 02:16 AM 2267 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 63: Pens For Sale Part 64 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 65: More Turning Adventures »

As most of you know, I am hooked on turning pens. It is more than an enjoyment factor for me. It is the one thing I have found that bothers me the least when I am hurting in my back. Even on my worst days, I can set a stool at my lathe and still turn a pen or two. So it is the perfect hobby for someone with my health issues.
Since I started turning though, I look at the Penn State website on a regular basis and lust after the nicer pen kits. Now, I do not want anyone to think I am saying that a nice pen kit alone makes for a nice pen. I’ve seen some beautiful pens that others have made with the cheapest kits available. Then again, I have seen some ugly pens made with some extremely expensive kits.
All that being said, I still knew that if I ever got the opportunity, it would still be nice to turn some pens using nicer kits than the slim line kits I normally use. The pens I turned today are from some nicer kits. They aren’t necessarily the most expensive in that Penn State catalogue, but nicer than I am used to. Yes, I will still be turning mostly the cheap slim lines. It is what my budget allows unless I can make a lot more sales than I have been. It sure was a treat to turn a little higher end than usual though.

This is the over and under shotgun kit.
I used ziricote for the upper barrel and lignum vitae for the lower barrel. This pen is massive in size. It’s massive size though may fool you in the delicate touch you had better have while turning it. That upper barrel is so thin that I believe I could have written a secret message on the brass sleeve inside the wood. You could probably read it under a bright enough light. I normally rough my pen blanks out with a three eighths gouge and then finish it up with light touches with a quarter inch detail gouge or skew chisel. On this pen, the roughing gouge never got used. You just go straight for the detail tools.
Other than using a light touch at the lathe, the pen was not hard to make after I ruined three ziricote blanks trying to drill for the huge nine sixteenth sleeve on the upper barrel. After drilling, the blank would be left so thin that the vice on my drill press would distort, or in one case just crush, the remaining wood. The way I wound up doing it was to sneak up on it. First I used a piece of blank way longer than I needed so that the part I was drilling was left sitting above the pen vice. This kept the jaws from adding sidewards pressure. Then I drilled it in three steps, working up to the final hole size.
I think the extra effort was worth it. In my opinion it is a very nice pen.

This one is the Olympian Elite kit.
I decided to use a wood I’d never turned before on this one. The wood is called tulip wood. I think I made a good choice. In my opinion it went well with the gold and black of the pen hardware. I may be a little biased though.
The wood on this one is quite thin as well. I had no issues though. I think think that was because I learned my lesson with these big barreled pen on the first pen I showed you above. This one is a real nice looking pen. My only complaint with this one is the plastic. While all the pens have some plastic parts here and there, all the parts in this one are completely plastic. They are nice looking and done tastefully. I just really don’t care for that much of the stuff. Metal makes me feel much more comfortable. All this concerned me when it came time to press everything together. I could just see in the back of my mind plastic parts shattering and ending all the work I had put into it. Everything went together just fine though. So I guess I was worried for nothing.
That was all I got done today. I spent a lot of today hugging my wood burning stove in the shop. My joints don’t like cold air. So on days like today, even with the shop at a comfortable temperature, I simply hurt less sitting as close to the heater as I can stand.
So until next time my friends, happy turning.


15 comments so far

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4385 days

#1 posted 11-27-2013 08:40 AM

Beautiful pens William. The kit parts do look a bit better than the slim lines.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#2 posted 11-27-2013 11:09 AM

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3725 days

#3 posted 11-27-2013 01:23 PM

Nice job on the pens, they look marvelous!!!

I can appreciate what you are saying, as it relates to working with the “finer” pen kits….
It is kind of like comparing working with MDF/melamine to working with Birdseye/burl or exotics….

Keep the “fire” burning….
Both in the stove and your heart!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#4 posted 11-27-2013 03:17 PM

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4068 days

#5 posted 11-27-2013 11:07 PM

The tulip wood pen turned out magnificent! How did you like the odor it produced?

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#6 posted 11-27-2013 11:25 PM

I really can’t tell you Erwin.
I’m coming down with something and can’t smell a thing.
I do love the way it looks though.
Thank you.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3740 days

#7 posted 11-28-2013 01:50 AM

Those “high end” pens all turned out very nice (but I wouldn’t trade my hedge pen for any of them :).

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#8 posted 11-28-2013 02:02 AM

Thank you Andy.
That is a very kind compliment.


View lew's profile


13331 posts in 4806 days

#9 posted 11-29-2013 01:08 AM

I think you made the perfect choice with the wood in that olympic pen. It is beautiful!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View boxcarmarty's profile


17435 posts in 3410 days

#10 posted 11-29-2013 01:31 AM

William, It’s not the fancy hardware that makes a great pen. It’s the thought and the work that goes into the turning. My 6 wood pen that you made is a perfect example…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#11 posted 11-29-2013 01:40 PM

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3881 days

#12 posted 11-29-2013 10:46 PM

Beautiful pens as always. I’m shocked about the plastic although I do agree with Marty.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#13 posted 11-30-2013 12:51 AM

Thank you lew and doe.


View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3854 days

#14 posted 12-02-2013 12:36 AM

They are definitely beauties.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3893 days

#15 posted 12-02-2013 11:04 AM

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