First and second attempts at pens.

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Project by derosa posted 09-03-2012 12:01 PM 1319 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I decided to get into pen making a little since I have a lathe and some people seem to like it so much; I can see the attraction in getting something done so quickly and efficiently and finding a way to really bring out the grain in a piece of wood. Not to mention turning something on the lathe just seems so much more satisfying then cutting and gluing; even if you have to do that just to get to the lathe. Both these pens are slimlines and I’ve discovered that even with a lathe and turning tools this is not a cheap thing to get into.

The first of the two is applewood and I’m only satisfied with it as it is the first I ever made. I knew I wanted the bottom to be fatter but I wasn’t certain how to deal with the top. I slimmed it down a little but it made the pen tipsy and top heavy; not to mention the pieces are too thick and so the ends don’t smooth down into the trim pieces. I’d never used CA glue before and that has a bit of a curve as well so the surface isn’t as smooth as I’d like. Hard to tell in the pic but the grain does line up, on this one I left off the clip to make it smoother looking. The end is slightly dirty in the pic because my toddler managed to chew on it before I could get the pic.

The second is ebony with the black line clip in the gold slimline kit. This looks every bit as sweet as I would have liked. Learning from the first piece the top is thinned right down. The polishing of the top gave me fits though; I think I was putting the same time and effort into sanding the glue and applying polish to both pieces but with the thinner diameter that was over doing the job; I eventually sanded all the CA off the one, put it on the mandrel with just an insert and reglued and polished it as its own piece. That did the trick. Both pieces came out exactly smooth and polished. One end of the top piece didn’t exactly match the band but since the grain doesn’t show up on the ebony I just flipped it over and it fit without noticing it being oversized on the clip end.

Overall it has been a learning experience and I’ll be turning these out for family gifts; just enough to enjoy the satisfaction but not build into an addiction.

-- A posse ad esse

6 comments so far

View Remedyman's profile


47 posts in 2674 days

#1 posted 09-03-2012 08:31 PM

They look really good. I am screwing with wood, just to practice using the tools before I start turning pens. Like you, I hope to turn some decent ones, but if you are like me, it will become an addiction regardless of how much you try to stop it.

One question, did you pay attention to how much time was spent (start to finish) on those two?

Good luck on your future projects.

-- As long as our customers are happy, we have done a good job. Even if we are our own customer.

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2701 days

#2 posted 09-03-2012 08:45 PM

I am betting that ebony one is very comfortable to write with. I know I do not have the patience and steady hand needed to turn out these pens but what a great way to get your work into the hands of those you love. You may say you are not going to get addicted but from the evidence around here, you may be optimistic!

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View oldnovice's profile


7498 posts in 3844 days

#3 posted 09-03-2012 10:16 PM

The ebony one looks familiar! It looks like the pens that one of my former employers used to give out for 10 years of service. ... for 20 years they awarded the ink cartridge!

Good looking! You say these are your first two?

Perhaps I should start making pens. It can’t take up as much room as cabinetry. I used to get catalogs from some place that offered blanks made out of many different woods and epoxied into one blank. Some of the color combinations were fantastic and nothing like it in nature.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4262 posts in 3038 days

#4 posted 09-03-2012 10:28 PM

Great job buddy.

I do have several books and DVDs if you want to borrow them just send me a PM.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3312 days

#5 posted 09-04-2012 12:15 AM

Remedy- not a lot of time. I bought the ebony blank, the applewood took longer as I made it from the tree. I set the fence on the bandsaw to almost the same width as the tube and slice off the two lengths, so all of 2-3 minutes there then only a couple minutes to drill the blank. I use a wood clamp, the kind that is made of wood with double screws and make sure the piece is roughly straight up and down and mark the center. So about 5 minutes to mark off and clamp then drill the hole. All of 30 sec to CA glue in the inserts. Next day I ran a different bit down the tube to clean out the tube of extra glue and and face the blanks maybe 3-4 min. I’d say less then 10 minutes to turn, another 3-4 minutes of sanding at top speed, and using the CA glue drier I’d say 10-15 minutes for the gluing. Overall less then an hour easy except the delay for the tube to dry in place.

Kay- My FIL says the ebony is nicely balanced and easy to hold with the bulge. He’s a patent lawyer at a firm and deals with lots of clients, I told him to tell anyone who is interested 40.00 so maybe I’ll get a little more addicted.

Oldnovice- it does seem like a pleasant diversion, I keep looking at the epoxied stone blanks.

Arlin- Thanks, I’ve been trying to make my way through the FWW dvd with all the issues on it so I’m all set for the time being.

-- A posse ad esse

View JJones98042's profile


228 posts in 2729 days

#6 posted 09-05-2012 02:39 PM

Very nice work!

-- "Keep thy airspeed up, lest the earth come from below and smite thee." - William Kershner

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