Newbie Pen Turning

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Forum topic by MidnightTurner posted 06-10-2016 01:07 AM 979 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MidnightTurner's profile


1 post in 1684 days

06-10-2016 01:07 AM

Topic tags/keywords: pen turning

Why call myself the Midnight Turner? Because as much as I love my family, all us guys need some downtime – I’ve always been interested in woodworking and even did an a level in it at school. My main passion is cricket, but this is an all day job and not possible so much with a young family. So my friend gave me a load of tools, and I got a cheap second hand beginners lathe, and here I am – aiming to only spend the odd couple of hours at night on this after the family have gone to bed – hence the name the Midnight Turner – plus I like the rolling sones too lol!!

I’m a complete newbie to turning, as of only four weeks ago. I wanted to start off with something simple and I was told pen turning would be good. I’ve learnt a hec of a lot already about tools needed and finishing, and I’m getting to the stage after wasting about 5 slimline kits where I like the shape of what I’m doing, however, one issue I still have is that the mandril is still wobbling only ever so slightly, but it’s enough to see a difference when the pen is put together as it is ever so slightly off centre. Has anyone got any ideas?

I’ve been a bit influenced by Keith Barrow on YouTube so I thought I’d film myself making a pen and post it on YouTube, but I’d feel a bit embarrassed at the minute as it isn’t straight.

Any help much appreciated,

Kind regards,


4 replies so far

View jeff's profile


1284 posts in 4433 days

#1 posted 06-10-2016 06:21 AM
Try one of these.I have the one from Craft Supplies Usa.Also make sure you are drilling square and centered on your pen blanks.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View Wildwood's profile


2932 posts in 3102 days

#2 posted 06-10-2016 10:35 AM

Several things can give you out of round pen barrels.

Dull tools and you are forcing the cut; even with sharp tools don’t want to force the cut. When people try to rush the cut tend to push too hard while turning, take it easier & let tool do the job.

Bent mandrel; Knurl nut to tight; or Tailstock pressure too tight just snug up so blanks don’t spin while turning.

Also glue inside the tubes if have to force blanks onto the mandrel check & clean tubes if needed.

Anyone or combination of these factors lead to poor final assembly .

Sometimes can get away with off centered hole drilled in the blank if have a big blank. To increase accuracy when drilling take less of a bite when drilling and clear chips more often.

Welcome to the forum & good luck with it!

-- Bill

View Bill7255's profile


428 posts in 3253 days

#3 posted 06-11-2016 09:55 PM

Mandrel saver is what you want to get. Also when I am almost done turning I rotate the tubes 180 degrees for that last light cut.

-- Bill R

View Wildwood's profile


2932 posts in 3102 days

#4 posted 06-12-2016 04:21 PM

I forgot to mention many live/revolving centers that come with a new lathe do not have a 60 degree nose or tip.
This style of live center is very popular with pen & non pen turners. You can shop around for better price.

You could definitely buy a better center like Nova or Oneway with lot more bells & whistles for more money too.

Have never used a mandrel saver but seem to be very popular too!

-- Bill

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