Turning Pens

In the past I’ve only ever used slimline pen kits for turning pens (and pencils), but I’ve been planning on trying some different styles.  I bought some at the Melbourne Wood Show last year, and again at the open day over the weekend I picked up another couple to try.

Unusually for me, I didn’t wait very long before giving them a go.  I was going to make a video at the same time, but I’m not thrilled with the result so will reshoot it (and that is an excuse to get another) 😉  I did catch some photos, so can step through the process.

Pen Mandrel

Pen Mandrel

This is my current pen mandrel.  It does the job, and has a #2 morse taper to fit the lathe, but I’m now planning on replacing / upgrading it to one with a chuck that allows the length of shaft to be changed to suit the pen type.  This current mandrel requires me to use various spacers depending on the pen being made.

Pen Blanks

Pen Blanks

The lower pen blank is actually resin, and is the one used for the pen that you’ll see at the end of the article. The other blank I used was a piece of red malee burl from “Brad’s Burls”.

Pen Kit

Pen Kit

This is one of the new (for me) pen kits I was giving a try.  It is an “Elegant Beauty” with a Rhodium / Black Titanium finish. As you can see from the price, it certainly isn’t the cheapest type of pen kit out there!

Turning the blank

Turning the blank

After boring a hole and gluing in the brass core, the blank is turned on the lathe, supported by the pen mandrel.  A pen mill was used beforehand to sqaure up the ends, and get the length precise.

Rather than the original live centre on the lathe which was too sharp and had the wrong angle of cone, I found this one (at the right of the mandrel in the photo), which is still accurately centred, but is blunt with a rounded end and as such is perfect for fitting into the end of the pen mandrel, supporting it.

Once the blank is turned, sanded and finished, I assemble using the JawHorse to squeeze then components together.

Red Malee Burl Elegant Beauty Pen

Red Malee Burl Elegant Beauty Pen

The other that I made at the same time is a Sierra Black Titanium pen with a black and orange/yellow/gold resin.  I made it for my wife who is a huge (AFL) Tigers fan.

Sierra Black Titanium Black and Gold Pen

Sierra Black Titanium Black and Gold Pen

I will revisit the video on making a pen, although I will make very clear now – I am by no means a good turner – I manage to get things round, but my techniques are nothing to write home about! However, if it inspires you to try to make a pen of your own, then objective achieved! And you don’t actually need a lathe (although it makes life a damned sight easier).  Many a pen has been turned by mounting the pen mandrel in a drill press and turning the pen vertically – using sharpened screwdrivers as chisels. However, there are plenty of cheap lathes out there, so there really isn’t a good excuse not to try.

One Response

  1. Nice pens Stu!

    I like turning Sierra/EB kits – you can get several done in an hour if you’re after a ‘quick fix’

    I only wish that my mandrel was long enough to do two at once! (It’s very close… but not quite)


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