Pen turners, a lil help please. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Pen turners, a lil help please.

I've done segmented turning, NE turnings and much more. What I haven't done is pens. I'd like to change that. I went to Wood crafters and Woodworkers source and no one seems to know exactly what I need to do this right. I was hoping you guys might be able to tell me what tools are the best for the job and a little advice on how to use them. Being a segmented turner means I have boxes and boxes of beautifully figured woods that are slightly too small for anything other than pens.
Thanks in advance and I look forward to giving pen turning a shot.
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-23-2011, 09:13 PM
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Hey Bill,
I've only done a handful of pens but I know what works well for me. You need to get several things before you can even start turning the pens themselves. you need a mandrel, the correct size drill bit and the bushing specific to the pen. I've been buying my stuff from lee-valley. typically the standard A- mandrel works for most pens. buying a starter kit is typically an ok thing i find, it includes 2 pen kits, the drill bit which is usually 7mm, and the bushings. it's not a bad deal. as far as tools to use, i typically use a roughing gouge to round off the blank. and then i just use a spindle gouge to shape it. this is the basics for turning a pen. you can get into more complex stuff, wire burning, making grooves for finger grips. etc. i found the first i did to be a little overwhelming because of the amount of steps involved, but now i've gotten the hang of it and can make a pen in less than an hour, from boring a hole to applying a finish. good luck and hope this helps a little.
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post #3 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 11:10 AM
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Most of the pen kits, and tooling...I bought at PSI. Great service, although I've heard the opposite on this site.

Harrison, at your service!
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 02:26 PM
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Hi Bill

If I were you I would get the mandrel, barrel cleaner set, a 7 mm drill bit, and if you have a vise you can use it as a pen press. You will also need a DP vise or something to use as a centering jig to drill your holes. If not they sell pre-drilled blanks at PSI. I use a carbide scraper for all my pens but you can use a regular scraper or other tools if your comfortable with them. You will also need CA glue a nail punch or something similar and your choice of finishes. I use CA, Canuba wax stick and a polishing compound but that up to you.

I get almost everything from PSI except the barrel cleaner I ordered mine from craft supply or Rockler. PSI has a 8 pen sampler set of the 7 mm pens that is like $34 and it comes with the bushings I believe.

Step one is to cut the blanks to the proper length 2 1/16 for most 7 mm pens. (if your blank is 5-6 inches before you cut it use a pen or marker to draw a line on one side long ways but don't go all the way to the ends.) This will work as registration mark for the grain when you put it on the mandrel.

Step two drill your holes using a centering jig or vise.

Step three is rough up the brass tubes bith sandpaper and apply aome CA glue, enough to hold but not have it spilling out the other end. Then using a punch insert the tubes into the blanks with a twist while insuring they are seated correctly.

During this step if you have multiple blans of the same species draw a number one on each side of the line you have drawn. Then a 2 and so one. This way you know which 2 pieces go together and how they were originally oriented before cut in half.

Step four After the tubes are glued and dried using you barrel cleaner in the drill press and you blank in the centering jig/vise, run the barrel cleaner in the tube. This does two things it gets any glue out the tube and as you apply pressure it also cuts and flattens the ends of the blanks. do this to both sides of the blanks until you see the edge of the brass tubes.

Step five assuming your mandrel is in the lathe already you will put the proper bushing on then one 1/2 of the pen blank another bushing and then the other 1/2 followed by another bushing. Tighten it all up on the mandrel the bring your tail stock up to the end of the mandrel. Snug it up and when you start the lathe (I use high for the entire process) you should here that little hum.

Step six using your choice of tools shape your pen. You have turned other things so no need to say all that stuff. You want to go up to the bushing without cutting into it and leaving enough room for sanding to the thickness of the bushing. You don't want to got below the bushing slightly thicker is better.

I sand from 150 - 1000 on most pens then up to 4000 after the finish has been applied.

My finish for wood is using a paper towel square about 4 layers thick (bounty to be specific) to apply the CA while it is spinning then I spray some accelerator. 3-4 coats min then I buff that with 1000 - 4000 grit. I then apply canuba wax buff with a soft cloth then use a polishing compound to finish. all while spinning on high. The polishing compound has to heat up a little so apply a little pinching pressure until it does. Not to much

Step seven is to assemble your pen I use a pen vise but did use a regular vise with wood pads and some use a table and rubber mallet.

I hope this helps and make sense.

Last edited by rrbrown; 03-24-2011 at 02:29 PM.
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 02:32 PM
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Richard - Do you know about how long it takes CA glue to cure without using an accelerator? I'm trying to learn to finish with CA glue but I'm messing up the finish when sanding between coats. I don't think I'm allowing enough time for the previous coat of CA to cure.

Gakkuri
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 02:37 PM
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Richard - Do you know about how long it takes CA glue to cure without using an accelerator? I'm trying to learn to finish with CA glue but I'm messing up the finish when sanding between coats. I don't think I'm allowing enough time for the previous coat of CA to cure.
I would guess 5 minutes minimum but then they have different types of CA. I use the medium I think. Why don't you use the accelerator? It works great 30 sec or so and ready for the next coat. I don't sand until I have 2-3 coats on but if I get it on smooth I wait until after the last coat.
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rrbrown View Post
I would guess 5 minutes minimum but then they have different types of CA. I use the medium I think. Why don't you use the accelerator? It works great 30 sec or so and ready for the next coat. I don't sand until I have 2-3 coats on but if I get it on smooth I wait until after the last coat.
I forgot to buy accelerator when I placed the order that included the CA. I wanted to try it anyway instead of waiting for the accelerator. I'm just that impatient. LOL.

Gakkuri
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post #8 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 03:14 PM
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I forgot to buy accelerator when I placed the order that included the CA. I wanted to try it anyway instead of waiting for the accelerator. I'm just that impatient. LOL.
Most hobby shops probably carry it. I get mine a a local hobby shop or my turning club also sells it and cheaper.
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post #9 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirkus View Post
Richard - Do you know about how long it takes CA glue to cure without using an accelerator? I'm trying to learn to finish with CA glue but I'm messing up the finish when sanding between coats. I don't think I'm allowing enough time for the previous coat of CA to cure.
If you are using thin CA only the cure is pretty quick. I use thin the first two coats then medium for the next four coats. I never sand between coats but if theres a ripple or bump from filling a void I will use the skew to level out the surface before a final coat and sanding. I use accelerator on mine but I've learned you can speed the process up by adding heat.
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post #10 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so very much. You guys have better info that both stores I went to. I'll start acquiring all the goodies and give it a try. Again, thanks very much. I can't wait.
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post #11 of 21 Old 03-24-2011, 10:05 PM
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Bill, I've been turning pens for sometime now and maybe I can add to this pen turning situation. I myself turn alot of slimline pens because they are easy to make,they sell well,and they also make great gifts. You can modify them to your taste as long as the ends match up with the bushings. Sand your pens to 600 grit sanding with the grain in between coats to prevent scratches. I use a pure CA glue on all my pens. Once you have finished sanding through 600 grit rub on a light coat of acetone to remove sanding dust. Next get a paper towl ,tare it in half and fold it up several times and break out the "THIN" CA and turn your lathe down to about 300rpm or so.Put your paper towel under your blank and apply 2-3 drops of CA and rub back and forth about twice with light pressure. Next apply one quick spray of accelorator.(By the time you set the accelorator down it will be ready for the second coat of CA). Repeat this for 4-5 coats. After this you will use some Micro Mesh sanding pads and wet sand from 1500-12000 grit. Then apply 1 coat of (Huts) plastic polish and remove with a paper towel. Your pen blank should look like a piece of glass and it's ready to assemble. If you have any trouble PM me and I can answer questions. Good Turning.
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post #12 of 21 Old 03-25-2011, 01:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Beasley View Post
If you are using thin CA only the cure is pretty quick. I use thin the first two coats then medium for the next four coats. I never sand between coats but if theres a ripple or bump from filling a void I will use the skew to level out the surface before a final coat and sanding. I use accelerator on mine but I've learned you can speed the process up by adding heat.
That is so funny that you mention heat. I didn't know if it would make a difference, but I have a lamp attached to the bench next to my lathe; one of the adjustable kinds with a regular bulb. After applying each coat, I let it spin for 10 - 15 seconds and brought the lamp down close to the piece. It cured considerable faster doing it that way.

Gakkuri
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post #13 of 21 Old 03-25-2011, 05:31 AM
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We use medium CA for our pens and we don't use an accelerator at all (if you miss you end up with some unsightly blotches). Instead we allow the CA to cure on its own and it doesn't take long, just a couple of minutes. On some of the pens we do finish them off with the micro-mesh pads and if you stop at about half way with them you get a great , soft feel and a somewhat satin look to the pen which is great for highly figured woods.

As stated Bill, get a mandrel in 7mm but be ready to buy the slightly larger one (I believe it is 7.5mm) because there are pens out there need the larger one. If you get your supplies from a Woodcraft store, ask the associate to print out the instruction sheet for the pens you are looking to buy. The easiest pen out there is the Wall Street variant and some of the more difficult ones are the two piece models where a specific amount of one blank needs to be cut down or off for the center ring, but none of them are so difficult as to need and expert to do them! My 14 year old son makes more then I do and he taught me!

Once you get your first couple completed you're going to want more so be careful or you'll be doing bottle stoppers, yo-yo's, letter openers, etc.!

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:17
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post #14 of 21 Old 03-25-2011, 07:27 AM
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These kit instructions easy to follow hopefully give an idea of what is involved and tools needed. Of course, lot of U-tube videos can watch too.

http://www.bereahardwoods.com/price/kits/pdf/7MMPenBH.pdf

http://www.bereahardwoods.com/price/kits/pdf/SierraPen.pdf

The big three suppliers of pen kits & accessories:

Berea Hardwoods http://www.bereahardwoods.com
Craft Supplies: http://www,woodturnerscatalog.com
Penn State Industries: http://www.pennstateind.com

Berea and PSI have many resellers selling their products CS does not. These three vendors have many of the same popular kits names may or may not be the same. Resellers change names of kits too! Sizes of bushings and drill bit, and brass tubes required can vary.

It is important to know when buying from resellers who supplies their kits, mandrels, drill bits, bushings, and tube can and do vary.

Berea has the thickest mandrels A and B
CS and PSI bushing normally do not fit on my Berea mandrels. I have no trouble with CS kit bushings on my PSI mandrel.

If you go to IAP site will find list of vendors in Links section and lot of how to and tool information in the Library as well as the forum.

http://www.penturners.org/forum/
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post #15 of 21 Old 03-25-2011, 07:28 AM
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Cannot wait to see some of your segment pens!
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post #16 of 21 Old 03-25-2011, 10:38 AM
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You can also request a free pen making dvd from Penn State Ind. You can go to their web site or give them a call at 1-800-377-7297 and they will send it to you. It is good for the beginning pen turner and best of all it is FREE!

John
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post #17 of 21 Old 03-26-2011, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
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This is great everyone. I get more education on turning pens here than I could expect from a class on it. I'll be starting to gather up the tools over the next few weeks. I really appreciate everyones help. Now I'll have to see if I can turn a few out when I get everything together. Again, thanks very much.
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post #18 of 21 Old 03-28-2011, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Wyko View Post
I've done segmented turning, NE turnings and much more. What I haven't done is pens. I'd like to change that. I went to Wood crafters and Woodworkers source and no one seems to know exactly what I need to do this right. I was hoping you guys might be able to tell me what tools are the best for the job and a little advice on how to use them. Being a segmented turner means I have boxes and boxes of beautifully figured woods that are slightly too small for anything other than pens.
Thanks in advance and I look forward to giving pen turning a shot.
Is this something related to manufacturing... If so Then tell me about the business... !! Can i be into this business!!
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post #19 of 21 Old 03-30-2011, 05:10 PM
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I buy my pen kits from Woodnwhimsies.com they have good prices.

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post #20 of 21 Old 03-31-2011, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, nothing to do with Mfg'ing, just fun. I've made money building Humidors and vessels but more as a hobby than a business. I did figure out how I can make a million dollars doing wood work.......Start with 2 million. I'm just too slow.
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