Euro Style Pens

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Project by Stonekettle posted 06-25-2011 05:25 AM 2170 views 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

As a carver and bowl turner, I never thought I’d enjoy turning pens.

Until I turned one.

For me pen turning is addictive, and a lot of fun. I like the technical precision of it. I still turn primarily large bowls and vases, but on those days when I don’t have time for a large project, I can still get some turning in by making pens. I’ve been known to get up at 5AM and get in a couple of pens before leaving for work, it’s a great way to start my day. Pen turning also lets me use those small pieces of exotic woods that might otherwise go to waste.

In the first picture, the pens are Euro Style twist pens, from right to left: Yellowheart and Corian, Cocobolo and Corian, Sunken Heart of Pine and Corian, Redheart and Corian, Morado (pau ferro) and a matrix made from Gorilla glue with redheart, walnut, and Morado chips.

The Sunken Heart of Pine was a real find. This piece come from a log that was salvaged from the bottom of Lake Superior. It’s amazing stuff.

I often use Corian (a resin-based synthetic counter top material) in my pens. It turns beautifully and wears very well. I get scraps of it for free from a local counter installation company, I give them a couple of pens to show off to customers and they give me more Corian scraps than I can carry.

The Gorillia glue matrix was inspired by Rance’s ring project: I built a mold from hardboard around the morado end pieces, which had already been drilled out and had the brass tubes glued in place. Then I packed the gorilla glue and wood chip filler in around the brass tube. I closed the form with another piece of hardboard and clamped the whole thing together. The next day I cut the hardboard form off on the bandsaw and it was ready to turn. The gorilla glue matrix turns just like regular wood and polishes up great. Next time I’ll add copper and crushed turquoise instead of wood chips. Or gold and coffee grounds. Or silver and walnut shells. Or… well, you know, the possibilities here are endless. Thanks to Rance for giving me the idea.

All the pens are finished with several coats of BLO/CA, wet sanded with micromesh to 14,000grit, polished, and finished with Mylan’s friction wax.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

6 comments so far

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2846 posts in 4759 days

#1 posted 06-25-2011 05:37 AM

Can see why you enjoyed turning them. A great variety woods and by your message this is only the start.
Something I have never wanted to turn but is now in the to do book. Well done Jim.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4093 days

#2 posted 06-25-2011 06:13 AM

These are very nice pens, I’m impressed! Pens are something I have not got to yet. So far I’m too busy doing many other things that I enjoy. Keep up the good work.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View rance's profile


4278 posts in 4236 days

#3 posted 06-25-2011 06:36 AM

Jim, you have a nice set of pens there. There’s not a bad one in the bunch. I’m partial to the Yelloheart one though. You did well on ALL of these. You got it right, there’s all kinds of materials you can use. I’m glad you got something out of my ring post. Keep up the good work.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Karson's profile


35273 posts in 5476 days

#4 posted 06-25-2011 02:36 PM

Great pens. Nice job on the design and turning.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4240 days

#5 posted 06-26-2011 02:41 AM

Alaska Jim,

OK, I am not a turner yet (not counting my 8th grade shops experience). But I like your pens and the varied materials. Got to get a lathe, just not high on my priorities right now.

In La Conner WA right now at our vacation house. Did a little DIYer woodwork today, but mostly recovery from the hard workweek. There was a postcap for one of the balconies railings absent. The post top was cut too low. So I bought and painted a near identical one last trip. Today I padded the inside with some wood stripping, and then using a brad nailer, attached it. Covered the nails tops with some CA glue, a poor choice, but it was all I had. Looks good, but this environment is different than our home environment in Alaska…...much more humid. We’ll see how it does.

I have a mini-shop here, but extremely limited.

Have a good one….....absolutely beautiful here today…..........looks like Anchorage is a little cooler…..assume Palmer is slightly warmer….......

........the other Alaska Jim….....(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Stonekettle's profile


135 posts in 3980 days

#6 posted 06-26-2011 03:36 AM

Other Alaska Jim, we’re going to have to meet up one of these days. Next time you’re back in Anchorage. And you are right, it is cool today, and raining. Perfect day to spend in the shop.

I spent the day experimenting with Rance’s Gorilla glue matrix idea.

This one was made with coffee grounds, walnut chunks, copper, and turquoise with end caps of morado.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

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