Archive for July, 2016

Pens, Pens, Pens

I have been having a lot of fun making pens on the lathe. I ordered 7 kits to start, one expensive pen kit, and 6 inexpensive pen kits to “practice” with. I wasn’t confident enough to start out with my $20 pen kit. 🙂 My second and third pens were out of Purpleheart that I cut up from a scrap piece I was saving. I gave those to my wife and brother. The forth pen kit was made out of oak scraps I had and I thought it turned out very nice. I think that one was the best so far, but it is a little slimmer then my previous attempts. I’ll keep that one at work and bring my Bubinga pen home. Since that one is my first pen I would hate to loose it. I managed to make all 3 in one evening and still have enough time to finish the faceframe for an Oak/Ash cabinet for our entryway. (Will post about that when it is finished!)

I thought I messed up a redheart blank I purchaced from William Wood-Write when I order my pen kits, but after going back and looking at it, it was JUST big enough. So I made a redheart pen as my fifth pen. I then cut up some walnut I had into blanks and made a very nice Walnut pen for my sixth and final “practice” pen. Both of those pens were given to co-workers. On my next order I think I will try and sell the pens to recoup the cost of the kits, blanks, sand paper and finish. I am thinking $20 – $25 depending on the cost of the kit.

I think I am going to wait for my expensive Pen kit until Monday when my Lee Valley order comes in. I ordered a Shellawax finsih that is made for pen turning to see if I can get a glossier finish on the pen. I saved a zebrawood blank especailly for this pen. Hopefully it looks nice.


2nd3rd4th Pens

4th5th Pens

July 26th Update:

I received my finish yesterday so I tried it out on my “fancy” kit I bought from Lee Valley. It turned out very nice, although I am not too sure I like the design on the middle piece 100%. The smaller chrome band doesn’t really match the size of the upper band. The smaller band is built into the twist mechanism, so I know that is how it is supposed to go. I also checked pictures of someone else who built the pen and it looks very similar so I don’t think I did something wrong. Anyway, here it is. Made from Zebrawood!

Zebrawood Pen

Bubinga Pen

I have been watching a lot of Pen turning videos lately from Ron Calverly. So much that I decided to get a lathe and give it a shot. It looked like a lot of fun and you can have a finished product in the same day rather than spending weeks or months on a project.

I first looked at Busy Bee Tools for a lathe, and found one I liked. The problem though is that I don’t live anywhere near a Busy Bee Tools and shipping was $120! I looked at other comparable mini lathes and found that some Craftex lathes are very similar to lathes made by Rikon, Grizzly, Excelsior as well as Harbor Freight Tools. After doing a lot of research I decided that I would try the Harbor Freight Mini-Lathe as it was on sale for $199 plus a 25% off coupon! It wasn’t a lariable speed lathe, but it seemed like a great starer-lathe from the reviews. It must come from the same factory as the other lathes as some reviewers bought Excelsior bed extensions and they fit the Harbour Freight Lathe just fine. But wait, my concern was about shipping costs before. How much would the Harbour Freight lathe cost to ship? $7. Yup. $7 . By Fedex no less. 😐 So for $188 shipped I bought a lathe.

I didn’t have any lathe or pen turning tools but luckily my birthday was right around the corner and I quickly prepaired a “wish list” of items from Lee Valley and William Wood-Write. Lee Valley is usually my go-to website for all things woodworking. They sell top-quality items there so you know you are getting the best when you buy from Lee Valley. But Ron Calverly mentioned William Wood-Write in one of his videos about where a pen kit was from so I had a look. I think William Wood-Write is my new favourite web site/online store. 🙂 They are geared towards pen turning and have great deals on pen blanks.

Now I have a lathe, turning tools and pen kits. On with the production!!

After my in-laws left after celebrating my birthday I made my way into my workshop to put my birthday gifts to use.

I bought a Bubinga pen blank from William Wood-Write and that would be the base for my new pen. I also bought several Streamline 7 mm Flat Top ballpoint pen kits since they were cheaper and I would be less upset if I wrecked one on my first go. Luckily that did not happen.

I was amazed at how fast everything went. I cut the blank down to size, drilled the center whole, glued in the brass insert, trimmed the blank to it’s final size, mounted it on the lathe, turned it down to size, sanded to 600 grit and then finally applied a finishing wax to the pen. I then took it off the lathe and assembled the pen. The whole process probably took 1 to 1 1/2 hours to complete. I love the instant satisfaction from pen projects. I went from parts to finish product very quickly rather than spending days, weeks or months on a woodworking project. I was so excited when I came in to show my wife the finished pen. I see a lot more pens in my future!

Bubinga PenBubinga Pen