One turn deserves another

Teknatool have just released a beta jaw for testing by the great unwashed, which will particularly (and specifically) appeal to pen turners.

A beta, in the sense that it is a limited release, and subject to change I guess.

It is a 2 jaw, long nose set for holding square pen blanks for drilling on the lathe. I’d assume that once you finished that step, you can open the jaws wide enough to be able to slip your morse-taper pen mandrel in in through the chuck and complete the pen turning operation all without leaving he lathe.




At some stage, when I can get a set of these jaws, I will mount them on my Nova Titan chuck! The ultimate pen turner’s setup!

Episode 85 Kallenshaan Laser Pen Turning

Episode 85 Kallenshaan Laser Pen Turning

Tommy Gun Pen

Once the Tommy Gun pen kit & case arrived, I wasn’t going to waste much time putting it together. That case is seriously cool!

Kallenshaan Pen Kit & Case

The kit doesn’t come with the actual pen- it takes a standard Sierra Pen, which gives you plenty of choices for which kit you choose. In this case, I thought gun metal was entirely appropriate.

Sierra Pen Kit

The Kallenshaan kits have serious attention to detail. Everything down to the pin holding the stock to the gun, and the space around the trigger- amazingly fine detail. One part did not look like it would fit. With a solid push, it clicked perfectly into place. It is obvious every part is cut from a round source- they fit into the round pen blank as if they came from there, without any kerf, so either the laser cuts very fine, or the pieces are cut taking that into account.

Laying out the laser-cut parts

Once the individual parts are all in place, CA glue (thin) is flooded over the surface, and by using the thin CA it penetrates the full depth. This is important, as a lot needs to be turned and you don’t want to discover the parts suddenly becoming detached near the end of the turning.

Assembled Pen Kit

On the lathe, with sharp tools and careful turning, the pen is turned to the right size, then finished with EEE and then Ubeaut Glow. When using EEE, you have to be careful as it will tarnish the pen bushes, and this can be transferred to the wood if you burnish towards the timber rather than towards the bushes. Of course, you may just choose not to use EEE, but with care there is no need to avoid it.

Turned & Polished

It is a great looking kit and case, with that extra twist! There are actual violin pen kits, which would also look excellent with that case for obvious reason. Kallenshaan will also have shortly (if not already), a guitar case for the guitar kit, and a banjo case for a new banjo pen kit. Not sure what sort of case is needed for the Grand Piano kit!

Tommy Gun Pen & Case


Attending Hogwarts

As Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger have been learning over the years, simply being a wizard does not result in quality magic, unless there is plenty of practice, trial and error, and the Beall Pen Wizard from Carrolls is no different.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I haven’t had a chance to play with the Beall for a little while, so I was really happy to get it out for some trials and tests today, to start properly building an understanding of how it works.

I deliberately did not have any pens to test on – I wanted to concentrate on the Beall, and not waste time turning pens that I’d then want finished properly, and not just used for trials.  So instead, I have a length of dowel that I cut to pen-blank lengths, and drilled a hole for the pen mandrel and got into trying the Beall out.

If you have a bit of a mechanical mind, the Beall offers lots of possibilities.  With various gears and gear combinations possible, it will bring out the inner meccano engineer in any woodworker!  Its fun playing with all the different settings and combinations, but what’s even more impressive, is by changing the cutter, varying the depth of cut, changing the angle of approach of the cutter (top vs side of the pen, creating flats vs grooves), use (or otherwise) of the guilloche attachment (for wavy/sine wave patterns), and the reversing gear which is part of the gearbox, each gear ratio setting can produce a myriad of designs.  The total number of different designs is staggering.

I wasn’t worried about the quality of the finish at all – the dowel is pretty ordinary timber, unfinished and not sanded.  The point was to start discovering how to control the Beall, the various settings, and not producing a quality finish/result.  There is plenty of time for that, and better to learn how to use the machine properly, rather than trying to run before walking.  The first couple of pens I did a ways back did work out pretty well, but now I wanted to know how to reconfigure the gearbox etc. and get the most out of the ornamental lathe.

Just some of the different results without changing the gear settings at all (other than removal of the guilloche attachment), and three different cutters.

For much of the session, I used the Dremel with the flex shaft, but decided I actually preferred the Dremel directly attached to the Wizard.  The thread in the holding plate matches that of the Dremel – one of the reasons I got it, and it feels a lot more stable that way.  Let alone having better access to the on/off switch and speed control.

So a successful little session, and again putting the new workbench to good use.  Now I just need some form of height adjustable bar stool!

Kallenshaan Pen Kits

It was only the evening of the 20th that I ordered a couple of pen kits from the USA and they arrived 5 days later, from Kallenshaan Woods, who supply specialist laser cut pen kits (such as the Fire Pen kit I made about a year ago…

and the Betsy Ross I got as a bit of a memento from my trip to the US last year (sadly, I still have to actually make it!))

After seeing examples of Kallenshaan’s recent designs, I definitely wanted to get these:

A woodworker’s laser cut pen

And one for Wood Turners

It always surprises me how such fragile-looking components make it safely through the post, but they do.  Both kits will be interesting to make (and use), and I might finally get on with the Betsy Ross one as well. (I was waiting to source a supplier of Sierra Vista pen kits, but it is proving too hard to bother with, so I’ll stick to a normal Sierra kit)

Think I’m getting the pen-making bug back again!


Big day of preparation for various upcoming events.  The obvious one of course is this weekend, with the National Tradesman’s Expo at the Showgrounds (Melbourne) where there is a Stu’s Shed stand 9m x 3m that has to look the part.

Gathering tools etc for that – routers, saws, Torque Workcentres, etc – at least I have another day to assess if anything is missing.

It should be an interesting display – 3 machines (3.5m, 2m & router master), couple of vacs (one being the shop vac with cyclone), Protool SwordSaw, Festool Circular saw, Triton circular saw, Triton router, Hitachi router, Protool drill – think that covers the main machinery involved.

Along with that, I was also in Carbatec arranging the next two month’s demonstrations.

June (which has (shockingly) already started) will be on MagSwitch, and will include the technology and how it is ideally suited in the woodworking environment.  I will be showing the MagSwitch products for the tablesaw and router table, and those specifically suited for the bandsaw.  I’m hoping to have the bandsaw running, and to do a bit of resawing/veneer slicing (it will be interesting to see if my skills measure up!).  So that is on the 26th June from 10am to 12pm.

July (and specifically the 31st July) will be me demonstrating pen turning.  Talk about jumping in the deep end!  I’m not professing to be an expert turner, or pen turner, but if you’ve wanted to at least see how the average person can still produce a pretty good looking pen, then this will be of definite interest.  I will be turning wood and acrylic, going through each step, and also looking at finishing methods, including my take on CA (superglue) finish (I still use the DJ’s Timber technique of approx 20 layers of CA which I showed in a video aways back).  Carbatec are making a bit of a day of it as well – and will have a sausage sizzle going to feed the hordes!  Looking forward to it – think it will be an interesting demo day!

So that has been the day so far – too much to do, too little time!

Pop’s Shed Lathe

PS Lathe

With all the (non shed related) happenings this week, I haven’t been able to commission the PS Tools lathe yet, but hope to rectify that shortly.  I did get to plug it in and push the on button!

I could really become a fan of variable speed lathes – the ease of changing speeds (without having to change belts) is really refreshing.  The speed readout is also not based on the controller, but the actual speed of the shaft.  This means that if turning a larger item (or placing more load on it with aggressive cuts), the speed readout reflects the actual RPM being achieved.  It does this with a toothed wheel inside the lathe head mounted directly to the shaft, and a light sensor circuit that counts and times each tooth.  The same principle was used in computer mice pre optical and laser days.

The lathe still has 3 belts, so you can get 3 ranges of variable speeds, from the slowest around 650RPM right up to 3000RPM.

Sitting on top of the Torque Workcentre is not it’s usual position (too high), but the juxtaposition is deliberate even so.  I have an idea about using the lathe, with the overhead router for turning helices, and also for cutting evenly positioned flutes.

Something to mull over.  In the meantime, I will get to a better introduction to the lathe, and all the accessories it comes with shortly.

Laser Cut Inlay Kits for Pen Turners

Rockler in the US have just bought out an interesting concept for pen turners – inlay kits for pen turners.

They are specifically for Sierra pen kits, (and not for novice pen turners).

Laser Cut Pen Kits

Laser Cut Pen Kits

The Jigsaw Puzzle

The Jigsaw Puzzle

There’s one there that looks to be a representation of an historic Stars and Stripes – be interesting if there were kits for flags of other countries – perhaps in time!

Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes

There are some rather intricate kits, where every component is shaped specifically (such as the one above, and the flame pen below) Click each image to be taken directly to the Rockler page for that item.

Flame Pen

Flame Pen

And others which look more traditionally like a segmented pen kit (still with some laser cut aspects)

Star of David

Star of David

And of course, there is always the obligatory fishing one!



And just out of interest, Rockler has a new Customer Project Page which is featuring my Toyhouse Kitchen Furniture

Aftermath pt2 – The Wallet’s Response

I did pick up a few things at the show, being conscious of how much I could get on the plane – I knew I had about 12kg spare!

A friend recently showed me a very stylish case he had sourced for the pens he has started making. I still may get around to getting one as well (purchased from the USA) as his one is real leather.  However while at the show I found one that had a similar look and feel, just not leather.

Pen Case

Pen Case

Better get making more pens!

Better get making more pens!

Stores 24 pens in a zippable case, with an internal soft flap to protect the pens on one side from the other.  Cost was around $25 from Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies. Think it is so new that it isn’t even on their website yet.

I did buy a $6 chainsaw bag – didn’t seem a bad price, and it may mean I will look after the chainsaw a little better!

I wasn’t planning on buying much timber – perhaps a few pen blanks, but the Solomon Ebony looked really interesting, and was a surprisingly good price.  I’ve bought ebony before, and gotten very small pieces that still cost quite a bit, and only ever intended to use them for details in other creations.  Instead these pieces are affordable enough to really use them, rather than conserve them.

Solomon Ebony

Solomon Ebony

From left to right, there are some lengths around 18mm square – a bit thicker than normal, but I got them specifically for pens.  They actually came as 2 lengths, but at around 1.5m long, they were going to be tricky to get onto the plane.  I left my run too late to find a saw as the show was packing up, but I found someone with a running chainsaw who was happy to help pop these in half for me.

The next piece is just a nice lump of timber.  The endgrain of the ebony is stunning, and when I do a writeup of the timber itself, I’ll get you some better photos and details images. Same with the stack of 3.

The ebony darkens up to a near black significantly over time as it oxidises, so these pieces will look remarkably different in a year or two!  (I don’t know how fast they oxidise though).  When I turn a pen, if I do a CA finish it will obviously keep the air away from the timber.  Apparently (when I asked about it), the timber will still oxidise over time, it would just take a lot longer through the CA finish.  The gentleman selling the timber had a pen made from it, and it was a beautiful deep black.

The final piece of timber I know nothing about, other than coming from the Solomons, and its name – Kwila.

Episode 50a Preparing and Turning a Wooden Pen

Episode 50a Preparing and Turning a Wooden Pen.

Part b will include finishing with a CA finish (Superglue), and assembly.

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