My First Pens

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Project by Danpaddles posted 01-07-2014 12:28 AM 1319 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
My First Pens
My First Pens No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
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No huge story here, not all that big a deal for experienced turners.

My wife bought me a starter set for turning pens, for a Christmas present. Yes, she is a good wife. And, I dropped some hints. And I had bought a new (to me) lathe, which I showed to her, two weeks before Christmas. (I do not always show new tools to her. She has NO IDEA what my RBI Hawk does).

The first effort sits on her desk. Sorry, no photo.

The 2nd, third, and fourth efforts taught me to buy spare tubes at Rockler. I made a very pretty hunk of cocobolo shatter, along with purple heart, and (??) yellow heart. Gotta use a lot of that glue when you slide that tube in! And the gouge needs to be VERY sharp.

One of the good ones is pictured.

I worked out the details, but busted wood tubes caused me to go in search of instruction, youtube this time, since it was late at night and I was enjoying a cold beer and warm fireplace.

While cruising Youtube, I happened upon Cap’t Eddie! Very nice presence on the camera, full of hints about turning, and he really knows what he is doing. One of his videos convinced me I could turn some Bic style pens, cutting the cost of pen guts drastically.

That is the other picture. Four pens pictured, there is another camera shy one rolling around here somewhere. There is a somewhat separate learning curve for the simple pens. Yes, I made some more kindling. That’s okay, though. They were small pieces.

One hint Cap’t Eddie did not share. I found that the Bic pen tube had some embossing, enough that I could not force it into the hole I had drilled. (My fingers are still blue from the one that broke!) I drilled a hole all the way thru a piece of rectangular steel tubing, I usually use it to make wood dowel rod. The 1/8 inch hole worked just right to scrape the embossing off the pen tube.

I would be out there tonight making some more pens, but when it gets to minus 10, it is very difficult to heat the shop- which masqueraded as a garage, until I bought this house.

So I’ll just write about woodworking tonight!

Next up- figuring out how to get some shine on the pens. I bought some Hut. Then I tried some bees wax, I had some very dark stuff here. It looked great on red oak, right up until I cracked the tiny end of that one.

I tried the super glue, holding the rag to work it in. Got pretty exciting when the glue all of a sudden decided it was time to set up. (That was one of the ‘learning pens’ I referred to earlier). Now I know why Cap’t Eddie uses toilet paper to rub out turnings. Yup, my rag tried to become a permanent part of the pen.

Last effort was nothing more then spraying some shellac on the pen while it was turning in the lathe. I think that one needs some further 600 grit sanding though. Oh well, I’ll get there!

-- Dan V. in Indy

6 comments so far

View Brett's profile


953 posts in 3646 days

#1 posted 01-07-2014 05:54 AM

Wow! You have been in the battle with those pens. Good job on the victory. Your pens came out nicely.

The CA/super glue does the trick with protecting and finishing those pens. Youtube has some great pen turning/finishing tips on there using the glue. I like using superglue for my pens. Only about 3-4 coats and fine sanding in between them.

Stay warm!

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

View deparrott's profile


92 posts in 2993 days

#2 posted 01-07-2014 01:41 PM

Great start on the pens! I also have a cold shop and totally understand that whole scenario. I wanted to mention that since you are in Indy you might be interested in the woodworking show coming up in a couple of weeks as there are usually some pen supplies vendors there.


View NaptownWood's profile


293 posts in 2760 days

#3 posted 01-07-2014 02:27 PM

Cool. Ive just started to do some pens and feel your pain. I am in Indy as well, and will be going to the woodworking show. There is an indianapolis wood turners club as well that will have a presence at the show. There is a meeting for the woodturners club that will meet this upcoming sunday in zionsville.

One tip i learned was that those bushings and pen components arent always perfect, so if you get a cheap pair of digital calipers, you can more easily check your diameter with that of the components and get a more seamless gap.

The stabilized blanks are stinky but stay in one piece easier than the others.

-- Witty signature line still pending

View Thewoodman2000's profile


822 posts in 2857 days

#4 posted 01-07-2014 05:19 PM

Those look great! how long was the drill bit and where did you find one to drill the full length? I have had good luck with CA glue but not when its cold out.
Stay warm and keep up the good work.

-- (the only thing in there she says is....tap on head..........tap..........tap..... saw dust) - James

View Danpaddles's profile


588 posts in 3199 days

#5 posted 01-07-2014 05:54 PM

I may be able to hit the WW show, but the 1500 G-n-K show, and RV show are all that same weekend.

I have been to the turners club meetings, a few years back. Time to go again maybe, thanks for mentioning it. I recall they were a nice bunch of fellows!

I bought a bit at my local hardware, it is a 12 inch bit. Only need a 6 inch bit. Dremel could shorten it, but I set it in an old chuck that allows the bit to extend out the back. Then that chuck went into my Oneway. With a little persuasion, I have it to where there is almost no run out. And I still own a 12 inch drill bit, I just use the first 6 inches at this time.

They listed those bits at WW Grainger, but I didn’t feel like driving up there. The Irwin web site also lists them.

The trick to the 6 inch depth hole, is to go slow, keep clearing chips, just go a little at a time. I tried not to let the bit get too hot. (-trying to avoid off color jokes about keeping your 6 inches from getting too hot…..)

Thanks for the words of encouragement. It is always fun to add a new skill. and- hey- look there! the outside temp just went up over zero!

-- Dan V. in Indy

View Danpaddles's profile


588 posts in 3199 days

#6 posted 02-09-2014 01:25 AM

Post script- a buddy gave me some brass, I figured out to make a pen around it! First one I cut the shell with a tubing cutter. That sort of made a neck at the cut, so the second one, I cut it on the scroll saw (three blades-) and trued the brass edge on the lathe.

No pen insert pictured in the taller one, I’ll run out tomorrow and buy some more pens!

-- Dan V. in Indy

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