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Some, but not all of the pens I turn, malfunction.

When completed and assembled, some work perfectly and others will not easily extend and retract the pen tip through the nib.

The ones that fail don't seem to grip the transmission tight enough, resulting in a very sloppy feel.

Others work smoothly with a firm "stop" when fully extended or retracted.

I use good quality kits from Woodcraft, and I am assuming that the problem is my technique, not the product.

Any idea what I am doing wrong>

Thanks
John
 

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It is frustrating that even after spending $3-4 on a slimline kit you end up with a pen that does not work as good as a 50 cent Bic. The economies of scale are just not there.

I think the solution is to move up to the larger more expensive kits. I cringe a bit at paying $10-15 for a kit, but the quality seems much better. I use slimlines for practice and the better kits for presents. I have probably only made around 20 pens so the total cost is not too great.
 

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I've done half a dozen or so of Lee Valley's Slim line kits and haven't had those problems with any of them. However I've found that the centre band isn't machined to close enough tolerances and sits quite loose on the transmission which can be annoying.
 

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I have done close to 800 slimline / funline kits and have never had such a problem … don't see how it could be anything wrong with your technique. The kits I use have come from either PSI or Rockler.
 

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I went to Woodcraft and ordered 10 Slimline kits at $3.50 each, what am I missing? Rockler gave a quantity discount but price higher than Woodcraft.

At one time Berea Hardwoods supplied Woodcraft & Rockler with their line of pen kits. That may not true anymore, hard to tell resellers often change suppliers and change names of kits & platings.

So went to Berea Hardwoods even though do not sell up-grade gold Slimline kits, their 24 KT kits would cost me less even with shipping than either Woodcraft or Rockler.

http://www.bereahardwoods.com/pen-kit/supplies/pk-7mm-bp.html

If were making Slimline pens today would go to Berea, I still like chrome & new gun metal platings.
I stay away from economy line pen kits after personal experience with Slimline kits from Woodturningz many years ago. I thought was buying PSI kits at the time.

There are a couple ways to mess up a Slimline pen kit I know because I did;

Too aggressive with a pen mill squaring pen barrels, nib stuck out too far.

Press the transmission in too far, damaged the transmission trying to push it back or during disassembly.

Did not press the transmission in straight, or not enough transmission nib did not extend far enough.

I have also received bad transmissions from the vendor and did not know it until after assembled the pen. Biggest reason do not buy economy line pen kits from anyone. I learned to check & clean transmissions about same time looking over parts for assembly. Simple wipe down transmission with DNA gets rid of gunk and can operate by hand before assembly.

We won't go into how I destroyed stuff before assembly!
 

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I've turned hundreds of slimlines and have been getting them from Ryan at Woodturnigz for 2.15 and I buy 10 to 20 at a time. The only issue I've had is pressing transmission in too far. Fix that by sanding off insert a little making ink tube shorter and of course I keep those few myself. Wouldn't want to sell those. Not sure exactly what your procedure is but as mentioned I could see if pen mill isn't centered that could be an issue of the shaft wearing slightly in the tube. Do you have trouble with it being tight on the mandrel? I've had a few, for whatever reason, was hard to slide on and off mandrel but I really don't recall the pieces not pressing in well. After saying all of that I guess what I really am trying to say is I don't think the quality of the kit is the issue, even the cheap ones do what they are supposed to do.
 

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Gerry, just some but not all;

CA glue failures, never a problem with epoxy or polyurethane.

CA glue in tubes, if not removed carefully leads to sloppy component fitting.

Grain does not align because reversed pen barrels.

Dropping and stepping on components.

Reversing cigar pen bushing order even after looking at instructions and correct order clearly illustrated.

I am more organized making pens than any other type of woodturning. Personally not ashamed to admit my pen making mistakes learned something from every one of them! JMHO, once organized turning and making pens pretty much idiot proof if not for Murphy's Law!
 

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FWIW … I rough tubes with 100-grit sandpaper and use Gorilla glue (polyurethane) to glue tubes into blanks. I have never had a failure with it.
 
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