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post #1 of 12 Old 12-21-2011, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Pen setup

I'd like to start my journey with my new lathe with some pens. They seem simple enough, but once again, my ignorance strikes again. I plan on getting a drill chuck for the tailstock, if for no other reason than to just make drilling perfectly centered holes easily. That's not just useful for pens; plenty of ways that can come in handy. Anyway, I've found basic pen starter sets, and regular pen starter sets, and an advanced pen starter set, and some super duper ultra deluxe pen starter sets... They all have different stuff in them, and I don't want to buy a bunch of items I don't need.

Is there a specific chuck that I need for the pens, or will a standard 4 jaw chuck work? I don't have one yet, but I plan to get one anyway. Once I get the pen blanks turned, do I need a pen press to fit it all together, or will a block of wood and a light tap with a hammer work just as well? Is there a specific finish that works best on the pens, or a standard finish that's used? I hate bugging you with these newbie questions, but there's nothing better than the advice of those that have been there and done that.
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-22-2011, 12:24 AM
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Welcome. You don't need a chuck to turn pens, you can drill them on a drill press. Pen press not needed but helpful. Need more control than "tap with a hammer". Can use quick clamps if careful. Finish- personal preference.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-22-2011, 05:27 AM
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pen state industries offers a free video on how to turn pens, It will answer a lot off questions about what you need. there are also some videos on you tube.

clinton township, mi. without wood their is no woodworking, mill it.
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-22-2011, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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will check out pen state industries. videos are always helpful. Thanks both of you.
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-22-2011, 06:56 PM
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Tons of videos on youtube.

I just started turning pens last weekend, its a lot of fun.

All I have is a mandrel ($25 at woodcraft), whatever bushings you need for the specific pen your turning (price varies from around $3 to $8 at woodcraft), a lathe and some cutting tools!

I made my own pen press to fit into my drill press and also made my own center drilling jig. You can also use a quick clamp or a wood vice. I used my wood vise for the first one and it works but is kind of a pain to do and is why I made one for my drill press. Some guys use a Jorgenson clamp for drilling. I made a small centering jig out of a couple small blocks of 2X4 and a couple carriage bolts and wing nuts.

You'll also need various sandpapers depending on the finish you want. I have been sanding up to 400 grit and then finishing with CA and then polishing the finish with Micro Mesh up to 12,000 grit for a glass like finish.

A tube of 5 minute epoxy also comes in handy for glueing in your tubes.

RRBrown, knottscott and many others were banned, they didn't just leave. They were banned for standing up to the new owners that are destroying this site. Come join us all at woodworking chat, the best new woodworking site on the net!!
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-22-2011, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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I like the idea of a glass like finish. I'll have to give the CA a try. Isn't that just superglue? Or is there a particular formulation used for finishing? Doh, time to do some more research. I feel like my eyeballs are going to turn square soon... www.google...
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-23-2011, 08:14 AM
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It is just super glue but its not the little tubes of super glue that you fix things aroound the house with. Several companies make CA. Ive been using Titebond brand medium for finishing. I got mine at Woodcraft but I know craft supply places sell it and possibly even HD or Lowes. Its pretty pricey at around 10 bucks a bottle but it goes a long way. Ive finished 6 pens with way more coats than is really needed and the bottle still looks full. I also use an accelerater with it that I believe is called Quick or something like that.

I'll try and find the video that taught me how to finish with CA and post it for ya.

Okay, here they are...




I have been doing it exactly like this except I found that 20 coats is way too much. I put 20 on the first one I did and the bushings were stuck and I cracked the finish breaking them loose. I found that 10 coats is about perfect. Some may say that its still too much but the bushings dont stick and the finish looks incredible. I sand to 400 then finish with the ten coats of CA. I then use Micro Mesh up to 12,000 grit to give it the glass like polish. I use it wet. Im sure down the road, I'll buy a polishing system like he has but for now, Micro Mesh gives me the same results and its a lot cheaper!!

RRBrown, knottscott and many others were banned, they didn't just leave. They were banned for standing up to the new owners that are destroying this site. Come join us all at woodworking chat, the best new woodworking site on the net!!

Last edited by BassBlaster; 12-23-2011 at 08:25 AM.
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post #8 of 12 Old 12-23-2011, 08:21 AM
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I recommend checking this site, found it after buying a basic starter kit from Packard Woodworks.
http://www.penturners.org/forum/

Have made pen kits from main three suppliers Berea Hardwood, Craft Supplies, PSI, and few resellers of their kits.

For quick down and dirty instruction used this site.
http://www.woodturnerruss.com/pen10.html

I got tired of making just Slimline pens after first fifty. So do not recommend starter kits. Never used pen blanks that came with kit, used my own wood. Stopped using Crystal Coat that came with kit and Hut sticks bought later after first fifty pens.
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-23-2011, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildwood View Post
Never used pen blanks that came with kit, used my own wood.
That's what I'd like to do for bottle stoppers and seam rippers. How did you dry your wood blanks?
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-23-2011, 06:01 PM
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When you harvest your own wood, go from thick to thinner, end seal and set aside to dry. For bottle stoppers would rough cut blanks two inches thick by 6 to 12 inches long. For seam rippers or pen blanks will cut wood to 1” thick by 12 inches long. I seal ends with wax and let air dry. Depending upon species may take up to 3 months stored in my shop before ready to turn.

I try to use a work smarter than harder approach to drying wood, storing wood out of the weather with good air circulation whether in my woodshed or shop. I end seal with wax or latex paint, only because available locally. Others prefer to use anchor seal or green wood sealer available from commercial vendors.

Other folks like to get fancy with their approach to drying wood and it works for them. I have tried microwave drying, bowl still turned oval so do not do that anymore.

Here are some popular tip, tricks, and techniques:
http://www.woodturningonline.com/Turning/Turning_articles.php?catid=30
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post #11 of 12 Old 12-23-2011, 06:11 PM
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Thanks, sounds like you just basically use air dried blanks. I've got plenty of that. I tried to microwave a blank, but it must have been too quick because it started to crack.

I've got a piece of Redbud that's between 7-10% depending on which of the meter's wood groups you choose. I was just going to use that and then seal it with a CA finish that I've seen here.
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post #12 of 12 Old 12-24-2011, 09:22 AM
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Yes, have been air-drying wood for many years. Personal experience and study causes me to disagree with some of the information provided here:

http://www.turningblanks.net/servlet/the-template/newsletteraugust2011/Page

These folks sell wood to individuals and vendors and have a lot of useful information on many domestic woods they sell. Website and newsletters worth a look.
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