Pen #7 _ Solstice with a Full Moon (as it happens)

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Project by Mark Wilson posted 12-22-2018 08:29 AM 783 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It turns out that, as well as being the Winter Solstice, we also have a full moon. Hence, the name of this pen. (I only wish it were more worthy.)

Here’s what happens when I try to “get fancy,” by drilling four, precisely placed, agonized over, holes and epoxying four pieces of coat hanger material (that’s steel, you know – but, soft enough, right?), to add interest to my pen. A pen, I should add, that’s trying to come out of a blank of Wenge. For those of you who haven’t used it, Wenge is an extremely brittle wood. I kinda suspected it wouldn’t work, and wondered why, on God’s green Earth, someone would include that stuff in a pen blank grab bag. I had to try. And, now we know better (signpost).

No. That steel isn’t “soft enough,” Smartypants.

So, I started over with what I still am pretty certain is Ziricote. I went to the table saw with this one, toying with the idea of a Celtic knot. I marked it up for that, then cut the perpendicular kerfs. I stopped toying and just settled for the rings you see. Knots will come later, when I have a thin saw that’ll cut straight. I very precisely, very carefully, made a group of strips of contrasting wood – Canary, I think – precisely 5/64” thick, to fit into my table saw blade’s 3/32” kerf, with room for the glue. There was too much room, so I folded pop can material (Al Yoomeenum, again), twice over, with CA between the folds, and glued that to one of 5/64” thick wood strips. This made a tight enough filler, with the addition of a shiny ring on the wooden ring. (I opted, at this point to forego trying to cut the kerfs for a Celtic Knot. I didn’t want to start over, again. It was getting close to dinnertime, and I really wanted to finish this.)

So, there you have it. Fancy. In a phoned-in sort of a way.

Thank you. And, I apologize, in a phoned in sort of a way.

Why only four photos in the Gallery?

I phoned that in, too. Sorry.

Headsets, if you care.

Note: That gap down towards the smart end of the pen isn’t part of the phoned-in mantra. It closes upon twisting the pen for writing. (Seems a weird setup to me, too.)

-- Mark

12 comments so far

View robscastle's profile


6157 posts in 2598 days

#1 posted 12-22-2018 11:01 AM

As its almost Christmas I will let you off for the unacceptable construction details and lack of project home page pictures.

Now as a result another question/observation, ... Do you USA guys suffer from some sort of ” I forgot where I am from syndrome”

Next thing we will see old glory plastered on Ford Motor vehs !

Anyway Merry Christmas now the leg pulling is over

Nice work on the pen, and yet another question how did get the flag on there?

Some construction details sure has some merrit!!

-- Regards Rob

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

22698 posts in 3499 days

#2 posted 12-22-2018 12:06 PM

Nice pen, Mark.
I tried making some rings out of cocobola and they all cracked on the expanding mandrel. I think it is best to stabilize that wood first so it has some internal ( hold together)strength,

Merry Christmas, Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View doubleDD's profile


8399 posts in 2437 days

#3 posted 12-22-2018 01:51 PM

It’s still a nice looking pen Mark. Thanks for the tip on the wenge. I never used it yet but I have some in the bin. I will have to be careful.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Tooch's profile


2006 posts in 2269 days

#4 posted 12-22-2018 04:33 PM

Looks great Mark. I’ve had a few blanks explode on me as well, mostly when boring out the ends after gluing in the tubes. I’ve found that inserting the bit the full way before turning on my drill press has been the most effective to ensuring that the smooth bit is going in perpendicular.

Merry Christmas!

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View Andybb's profile


1920 posts in 997 days

#5 posted 12-22-2018 05:22 PM

Very nice pen Mark. Is that wood dyed or is that the natural coloration? I gave up on the barrel trimmer and went with sanding on the disc sander. Too many exploded blanks.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Andre's profile


2626 posts in 2199 days

#6 posted 12-22-2018 05:29 PM

Pen looks great, but you sure that is Wenge? I have some Vera that looks exactly like that. and the Wenge boards I have are almost a black color with tight grain?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Andre's profile


2626 posts in 2199 days

#7 posted 12-22-2018 05:32 PM

Very nice pen Mark. Is that wood dyed or is that the natural coloration? I gave up on the barrel trimmer and went with sanding on the disc sander. Too many exploded blanks.

- Andybb

I trim my barrels before turning? Only problem turning was on some Oak that did not want to be so thin!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View leafherder's profile


1772 posts in 2346 days

#8 posted 12-22-2018 08:35 PM

A lovely pen Mark, as for the Full Moon/Solstice thing – enjoy it but be prepared for crazy behavior among the general populace if you are out and about at all. (I stayed home – too many years in retail taught me that this type of planetary alignment this close to Christmas was not fun).

As for the Aluminum – I have always enjoyed hearing my British friends say it – Al-you-MIN-yum. So much more interesting than the way we Americans say it.

Merry Christmas

-- Leafherder

View robscastle's profile


6157 posts in 2598 days

#9 posted 12-22-2018 09:50 PM

I forgot to mention I see what looks to be a Tap in picture No 2, I am not sure if you are aware there is a Blog by LBD on tapping wood, and I see quite a few other LJs as well.
I tried it and failed too, seems you may have to get a special tap?

-- Regards Rob

View lew's profile


12774 posts in 4149 days

#10 posted 12-22-2018 11:57 PM

Looks like the buddy emails have quit working again.

Nice pen! I like the aluminum rings. They really accent the pen fittings.

I quit using the barrel trimmer method and instead use my belt/disk sanding station to trim/square the blanks before turning. Here is a link to a jig made by a fellow LJ-

I do mine freehand but the jig is simple and easy to make.

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

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2552 posts in 1457 days

#11 posted 12-24-2018 07:02 AM

Rob: Thanks. Your levity is appreciated. The flag was on there. It’s part of the kit. It’s called, “American Beauty” (not to be confused with the lathe of the same name).

Jim: I’m pretty sure that all pen blanks have been stabilized. Except, of course for the ones we make ourownbadselves, like the Claro Walnut I used in #8.

Dave: Having had experience with some Wenge, in the past (the corner pieces), one of the first things I did was to soak the ends with CA. Unfortunately, I never got past the drill press with it.

Tooch: Yeah. My pathetic little bench top drill press requires that I do that. It just doesn’t have the reach, otherwise. I also have to raise the table midway through the drilling operation.

AndyBB: I did the disc sander thing with the Retro Pen, #8, for lack of a proper reamer.

John: You got it – Al Yoomeenum. Funny little people, what??

Rob: That’s not a tap. It’s the barrel reamer.

Andre: It’s definitely Wenge – the blank that shattered. The pen that came of this is of Ziricote, I’m fairly certain.

Lew: I used the disc sander on #8. It worked well enough, but, the way the dungeon is laid out – in a sort of Early- American-it-lives-where-it-lands – way, I don’t see myownbadself making a habit of it. It involves squeezing between things to get to the disc sander, then remembering that it’s not plugged in, squeezing back out, unplugging the lathe, plugging in the disc sander, squeezing back in, remembering that the dust collector hose needs to be hooked up, squeezing back out to hook up the hose, squeezing back in, squeezing back out to turn on the dust collector, squeezing back in and thinking, Now, where did I put the piece I need to put to the disc sander? What did I do with it?, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. You know what I’m saying. If you don’t, I can go on. I’ve nothing better to do…

The Dungeon seriously needs an electrician. And, a French Maid. And, a big-boy drill press. And, a big-boy bandsaw. Sometimes, I wish I were an artist in a third-world country, where they do amazing things with the most rudimentary resources. But then, I wouldn’t be me. Would I? Although, that’s only about half as glamorous as you might think it is.

So many words. I need a nap.

-- Mark

View robscastle's profile


6157 posts in 2598 days

#12 posted 12-24-2018 03:31 PM


Its your lucky day!!

I might be able to help you out … as its Christmas and I have some French maids who are all a bit bored here at the moment, they may be able to help you out, that is if your still interested.

-- Regards Rob

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