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post #1 of 9 Old 03-29-2010, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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Pen turning question

So I turned my first pen yesterday and it went pretty well except that when I first started out trying to round the square blank the blank would just spin in the mandrel instead of cut with the chisel. I tightened the wood up by loosening the mandrel and then tightening everything up with the tailstock but I was worried I would damage the mandrel if I tightened it up too much. Am I doing something wrong?

John
Green Bay WI
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-29-2010, 03:57 PM
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Yup, you're doing something wrong. Your mandrel should have a brass nut on it that provided the pressure on the blanks/tubes. The tailstock should only be engaged enough to the end of the mandrel shaft to allow the live center to start to spin. More pressure than that and you're compressing the mandrel, which prevents it from being perfectly straight.

Might double check that you're not missing that nut, which is a critical part.
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-29-2010, 03:58 PM
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Might want to post a picture of how you're setting up. The nut actually pushes against the bushings, which in turn press against the wood and the tube.

Also, remember to take light cuts and make sure you're working with freshly sharpened tools.
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-30-2010, 09:16 AM Thread Starter
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Yes I do have the nut at the end and tightened it up as much as I could. I guess the issue I have is that when I have the bushings, blank and then the nut on I have to loosen the nut on the part of the mandrel that is close to the headstock so that the mandrel snugs slides into the headstock piece and tightens everthing up. I followed the instructions I got with the mandrel, I was able to turn a pen but right when I started the blanks would stop spinning when I applied a little pressure with the chisel. Are they supposed to be able to move at all on the mandrel? Maybe I am just used to turning with a jaw chuck or faceplate whenre the is no movement at all.

John
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-30-2010, 09:35 PM
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Happens to me all the time (only been doing this a month). Try taking a lighter cut. I also played with my speed to help this too and tighten my live center in the tailstock just a bit after I have started going.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-01-2010, 02:58 PM
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They should not be moving to any great degree. If they are, you have an equipment issue or you're doing something wrong. Putting the turning tools to them should not cause them to spin or move.

Are your tools sharp?
Are you taking light cuts?
Are the bushings the same inside diameter as the outside diameter of the mandrel?

Can you post a picture of your setup including pen tubes/blanks mounted up?
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-01-2010, 09:51 PM
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is it possible that you have set everything up correctly but have drilled to large of a hole in the blank?

Treecycle Hardwoods Saving Gods creations since summer of 2009.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-02-2010, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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I ordered a starter pen making kit and it came with the pen blank, pen parts, mandrel, drill bit and followed the instructions. I think one of the problems might be that my tools are a little dull, I am going to sharpen them over the weekend and see how things go.

John
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-02-2010, 09:53 PM
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I had the exact same problem when I first started turning pens a couple months ago. My problem was primarily that my tools weren't sharp enough for one and not enough RPM for another. I try and run at least 1500 when starting and speed up to 2000 or better after its round.

I also went to only using skew chisels for pens, I use a 1" for roughing and a 1/2" for finishing. Turning pens was the best practice I could get for finally figuring out how to use the skew.

Hope this helps.

Matt
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