Chrysalis of a Pen

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Project by LittleBlackDuck posted 02-09-2019 10:04 AM 638 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Boys and Girls,

While there seems to be an upsurge on the presentation of individuals’ pen creations here at LJ (well a couple in the last 3 months), I had to do a bit of searching for a how to blog/project. While there are plenty, I’m sure many readers only delve so deep into the archives and badly chosen keyword searches may get you to some embarrassing XXX site… and then the missus happens to peek over your shoulder.

I made a PDF covering the Chrysalis of a Pen just over 10 years ago when I was young an foolish and thought I’d make my fortunes selling pens on the Internet… Please disregard the bad lighting, poor photography and an obvious inaptitude to pen making… not that my pen making skills have improved since then… but since then I have acquired one helluva more expensive camera, a bigger lathe and workshop with running water and a fridge.

Well my WEB site never got off the ground but re-reading (UGH!!! hate reading… even pictures in English) the PDF made me realise that it still holds some merit today.

Now there are many great videos and tutorials on the WEB/YouTube about pen making, however, I decided to take the liberty to try a new post here to get some LJ newbies that have never embraced the idea of making one of those seldom used writing implements.
Just as an FYI, my most popular pens (for distribution) are high end fountain pens… no not a little dutch boy pissing in a big concrete tank but a pen that uses INK (the stuff that scared squids squirt at you if you get in their way) and a built in nib! You may have notice, or you may have not… probably one of the two… but all presidential documents are signed by fountain pen(s)... I heard rumours that The Donald had to take a course in hand writing before inauguration.

I currently have a sore throat, so rather than bore you with my standard verbose BS, this link to my Chrysalis of a Pen outlines how I used to make a pen when I first started. About the only difference I do today is replace the 600 to 2000 grit sanding by water based sanding pads, however, after I get sick of cleaning the rust of my lathe bed (from spilled water), I resort back to sandpaper, even if only for a short time. Nevertheless, I always use sandpaper for my high end pens.

The subject pen is not necessarily a thing of beauty and the kit is a non-smokeable cigar, but it demonstrates that you can get life out of a useless discarded log.

And as always, if you didn’t like this read, try to forget it as there is no follow up video as YouTube was just a baby 10 years ago.

If the above link to the PDF doesn’t work try this one.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

13 comments so far

View crowie's profile


3207 posts in 2465 days

#1 posted 02-09-2019 10:28 AM

G’Day Ducky,
While I appreciate writing with a good fountain pen of the ink kind, I have little interest in making them.
I’ll leave that to those such as yourself with first class lathe skills and heaps of patience.

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View TheWoz's profile


37 posts in 402 days

#2 posted 02-09-2019 02:47 PM

Another fine pen and article by the Duck!
Hope all is well, any recommendation for turning pen blanks with brass embedded?

View recycle1943's profile


3282 posts in 2136 days

#3 posted 02-09-2019 03:01 PM

that’s a beautiful pen but like crowie said, I’ll do my thing and let you experts do yours

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6463 posts in 1226 days

#4 posted 02-09-2019 03:39 PM

good tutotial BUT no way im jumping in dat rabbit hole pen turning is like owning a B.O.A.T :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Dutchy's profile


3424 posts in 2682 days

#5 posted 02-09-2019 03:58 PM

Like to see your skills and knowledge, and maybe there will be a time to try it by my own.


View Andre's profile


2807 posts in 2320 days

#6 posted 02-09-2019 07:47 PM

LOL! Made me want to go check the firewood pile for my next pen blank! Well seeing that a lot of my past pen blanks came out of the scrap burn box in the shop??? Nah will wait until it warms up some, still in the – 30s here.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View robscastle's profile


6372 posts in 2718 days

#7 posted 02-10-2019 01:45 AM

Interesting stuff LBD, now a question or so,

1. Where on earth did you come up with the word chrysalis from? I know you dont read much but that one blew me out. I had to go look it up even before getting into post!

The reference to possibly some XXXX present got my attention, so after waiting ages for the file to arrive.
Thinking there was going to be some hot material included as I waited so long, but it was just a pen file!
I then scoured it for hidden interesting information.

I found I needed to ask more questions.

2. 7/32 What sort of timbermate it that and why have you reveresed it so we cannot see the type?
3. 12/32 What do you call that odd looking countersink bit
4. 21/32 Nice job on the velcro grit graded sanding blocks, do they work OK?
5. 23/32 I hope that is a Parker pen insert you have used, again I cannot read the manufacuterers details as they have been hidden again.

6. Finally where is the XXXX material ? I saw nuffng as Shultz would say.

Apart from some information missing you have done a great job and presented a very comprehensive little story, ... and a credit to you. (Worth writing home about)

-- Regards Rob

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


2936 posts in 1335 days

#8 posted 02-10-2019 05:11 AM

rc, I shall attempt to answer all your questions… Chrysalis is a Hungarian Fern cutting term for a sharpened duck feather sticking out of an ink well.
  1. Sorry about the XXXX… but I am a gentile man and only go for XXX. The missus put the X on me which is where you may have got the extra X, however, in her eyes I had to remove an X… and XX is less revealing than the page 3 girls from The Truth so I deleted those pages.
  2. 7/32 is a jar of peanut butter that I secret in my workshop as I am nut intolerant in the kitchen.
  3. Actually I call it an odd looking countersink bit, however, some members of the aristocracy refer to it as a pen reamer.
  4. No they don’t work… that’s why they are sitting on the bench and not in my hands. I heard rumours that some quack cuts strips (100, 150, 180, 240 grits) from bulk stock (not 1” wide rolls) so it can apply more pressure to sand faster.
    This jig is used

    to butcher bulk stock
  5. Mais certainement! Ran out of Mont Blanc refills.
  6. They’re in Hogan’s barracks… after all, we now know all about Bobby Crane.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View robscastle's profile


6372 posts in 2718 days

#9 posted 02-10-2019 05:31 AM

XXX it is, ... sorry about that Chief! XXXX I must have been thinking about beer

-- Regards Rob

View robscastle's profile


6372 posts in 2718 days

#10 posted 02-11-2019 12:27 AM

OK its me again,

I just realised I had made some errors with the references
those being:-
23/32 is actually a questionrelating to some beaded chain, so whats that for please?
and the parker pen question is actually 27/32 whic I think you have supplied a satisfactory andwer.

BTW do you happen to know what Corelz125 means?

-- Regards Rob

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


2936 posts in 1335 days

#11 posted 02-11-2019 11:35 AM

OK its me again, OK its me again, (too)

..... 23/32 is actually a questionrelating to some beaded chain, so whats that for please?.....
- robscastle

For a minute there I thought you sprung me,

with the keys to my handcuffs,

Then I had a closer look and rest assured there’s little kinky stuff (by that I mean not big and not necessarily too much),

happening in my workshop!

..... do you happen to know what Corelz125 means…..

- robscastle

Is this a trick question? Isn’t that a pen for 125 sleeping sheep? Or is it corelz125!

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View bushmaster's profile


3673 posts in 2797 days

#12 posted 02-12-2019 03:25 PM

Never have turned a pen, always like to try new things but the cost of getting the equipment and kit to expensive to just have one fancy pen sitting on ones desk. No market in the rural far north. I remember going to a small country school as a kid. Old wooden desks with a hole for the ink glass insert. Dip pens and the ink would freeze in cold weather overnight. We had to light the wood fire and carry water from the creek every day. Out houses too. Some kids would come on horseback that lived far away. Imagine that in grade one. some walked up to 3 miles, summer and winter. Last part of grade 6 they closed the school and we then had to go by bus 17 miles to town.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


2936 posts in 1335 days

#13 posted 02-12-2019 05:44 PM

Never have turned a pen, always like to try new things but the cost of getting the equipment and kit …..
- bushmaster
bushie, for a turner that surprises me. Every woodworker should make at least one pen in their lifetime… especially us oldies that remember how to write.

They’re a great little project if you want to just veg out in the workshop. I know you have all the ancillaries (lathe, drill press, drill bits, chisels, sandpaper, CA glue and finishing polish) and would only need a mandrel ($16), set of bushings ($6) and the pen kit.

Most people start on a slimline which is OK for a novice woodworker (by that I mean woodworker not a novice penturner… I believe you know which is the pointy end of a skew). Would suggest a cigar ($8) and I’ll bet you’d eventually kick yourself if you only bought one. The blank can come from any scraps (preferably exotic), however, also consider a LOSR (Log On Side of Road) or a BOOMBY (Branch Out Of My Back Yard… thick rose clippings

would surprise you… OK you missed out on the cigar).
You can always use a bench vice (carefully) for a pen press and a sanding disc/belt (sound familiar) to square up the blank’s ends (with care).

The beauty of a pen is you can keep it economical and not go crazy like me and try to buy every model… steer clear of the high end ones as few people are prepared to part with their retail value in shekels. I always recommend cigars for the boys and Sierras (Elegant Beauties) ($8.50 + a set of $6 bushes) for the girls, though it goes without saying the girlie one will cost you more.

My first cigar was made out of black palm with a gold plated kit,

I still carry it around in my top pocket (all my upper body coverings have a pocket for that reason… I discard T-shirts without pockets) everywhere since it’s creation over 10 years ago. The gold plating has worn off and I have replaced refill countless times, but I’d feel more uneasy leaving home without my pen that trousers and knickers.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

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