Wood Turned Pen Making Process

Wood Turned Pen Making Process

Published: Nov 16th, 2019 11:35 AM
Categories: woodturning / pens

This is an article describing my process of making Woodturned Pens to show what goes into making them.

For this guide, I'll be using the Rollerball SN kit supplied by Timberbits. The process is pretty much the same for the majority of pens kits, the sizing and number of wood turned parts may change depending on the kit and pen style.

After deciding on the pen kit to use, timber selection needs to take place. Sizing will again depend on the pen kit, but generally, you want to make sure that blanks are square and have some interesting figure. Figure 1, shows the timber I selected to make several pens in one session. Picture from the top, the Pen kits as they come packaged from the supplier. The timber from the top, Huon Pine, Macrocarpa, Chestnut Burl, and Tasmanian Myrtle. Also shown to the left are the bushings needed to mount these kits on the Mandrel that each pen will be mounted on to be turned.

Also shown on the timber is the marking out I did for the lengths of the brass tubes that will be glued into the blanks once they are cut to size and drilled to accept the brass tubes supplied in the kits.

Figure 1: After selecting some nice figured wood I lay out the sizes of the pen tubes.

Figure 2 below shows the marked out timber before being cut into lengths. You will notice that each is numbered for each kit, "T" and "B" indicate top or bottom of the pen. And the short mark that is parallel to the length of the blank indicates the orientation to help orientate the blanks for lining up the grain.

Figure 2: Close up details of the marked out blanks before being cut to length.

Figure 3 shows how the short parallel mark helps to orientate the blanks for lining up the grain. Numbering also helps if the blanks get mixed up, so they can be sorted. Especially helpful when using the same timber species with similar colouring.

Figure 3: The blanks cut to size.

Figure 4 is a close up of the marking out, and the interesting grain in Huon Pine.

Figure 4: Close up of the marking out.

Figure 5 shows the marked centre for drilling so the brass tubes can be inserted. As you can see with the bottom blanks (Tasmanian Myrtle), the marks are purposely off-centre to avoid the split in the timber which would produce a not so nice pen.

Figure 5: Before Drilling the blanks, mark and centre punch.
Figure 6: All the blanks ready to be drilled.
Figure 7: About to drill a pilot hole.

Figure 8: About to drill out the brass tube size for the top or cap.

Figure 9: About to drill out the bottom for the pen section of the kit.

Figure 10 shows gathering the swarf and shavings comes in handy for fixing chip out, or can be used for other projects that have inlay designs.

Figure 10: I like to keep and gather the swarf to grind into powder for filling gaps or other projects that have inlay.
Figure 11: Making use of old pen kit packaging.

Testing fitting the tubes before gluing in as in Figure 12 helps to avoid issues once the blanks are mounted on the mandrel.

Figure 12: Making sure the tubes fit correctly, before gluing in.

Roughing up the surface like in Figure 13 helps to the glue to key and adhere to the inside of the timber blank.

Figure 13: Before gluing I like to rough up the surface to help adhering the brass to the timber.
Figure 14: Cyano Acrylate (CA) glue that I use, this is medium thickness.
Figure 15: I use the end of the larger drill bit as it's end is machined down, and the larger tube fits, making it easier to push the tube into the blank.
Figure 16: Tube glued in.
Figure 17: All tubes glued, then left overnight to allow the glue to fully cure.
Figure 18: Pen Mill Cutter for removing timber down to the tubes to give the exact length of the pen.
Figure 19: About to Mill and square up the timber to the brass tube.
Figure 20: This is the result of Milling the blank down to the tube.
Figure 21: Blanks for the first pen mounted with it's bushing that fit into the brass tube.
Figure 22: Turned down to the bushings.
Figure 23: First coat of CA Glue used as the finish.
Figure 24: After several coats of CA Glue.
Figure 25: After being water sanded.
Figure 26: Pen parts before being assembled, showing the order of the parts.
Figure 27: How I push the parts into the brass tube.
Figure 28: Second part about to be pushed in.
Figure 29: Orienting the lid part of the pen kit before pushing the next part in.
Figure 30: Pushing the aligned part into the lid part of the pen.
Figure 31: Pushing the clip part of the kit into the lid.
Figure 32: About to insert the ink refill into the body of the pen.
Figure 33: The finished pen.
About the Author
Dennis Suitters
Dennis Suitters
Curator of Goats, Sheep, Children and AuroraCMS. Tamer of Wood.
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