How To Turn A Slimline Pen Part 1
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How To Turn A Slimline Pen Part 2
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Turning a pen can be fun and is most certainly rewarding. It's not hard once you get the hang of it either. Everything you need to complete the job is commercially available either, locally or via the internet at a reasonable cost. The instructions for preparing and turning the pen blanks are similar. The big difference is in the assembly.
What Do You Need?
Preparing The Blanks
The best method to ready pen blanks is to constantly try to match the grain of the timber when you're setting up. To obtain the very best results you should adhere to a couple of basic actions before cutting and drilling the pen blanks
The primary step is to note on the blanks where the cuts by the bandsaw are going to be made, which is generally 5-10mm longer than the brass tubes for the particular kit you are going to use. After that mark a line with which you can line both halves of the completed pen with. This keeps them in order when placed on the lathe. Additionally mark the short and lengthy edge of the blanks to avoid any complication. Last point is to provide each half a distinct figure so that they can be recognized much more effortlessly then reduce the blanks at the suitable lines to complete the blanks.
To get a much more professional surface and to give the perception that the pen has originated from one piece of wood, it is vital to keep the grain matched at the point of assembly. A few seconds invested prior to turning and cutting will provide a most preferable and gratifying outcome at the end.
Drilling Out the Pen Blanks
After cutting the blanks on the band saw, you line up the blanks and start drilling the holes for the brass tubes. You should always start with the longer half of the two blanks, that way if a mistake is made, you can recover the other half for a smaller pen like the Sierra or Elegant Beauty.
When it comes to drilling out the blank, always drill down from the centre. The reason for this is because there is mostly always tear out on the exit side of a drilled hole. This helps to avoid losing any length in the blank (remember the 5-10mm extra length you cut), which would cause headaches at the assembly stage.
To drill the holes in the centre of the blank a standard twist bit drill is used. To drill a perfect hole the bit needs to be sharp and this is easily accomplished with a twist drill. A brad point for example is not really suitable because it proves hard to sharpen unless you have the skill and it is for this reason a twist drill is sufficient. One way to avoid blunting your bit is to clear the stock from the flutes whilst drilling
It doesn't really matter where you glue up if it's just one set of blanks, but to avoid a mess when gluing up several sets, one good idea is to set up over a bin or paper during this process. I use a medium to thick CA (super glue) to glue my brass tubes into the pen blanks. Mitre Fix is one brand that can be used.
The tubes are prepared by roughing them with sandpaper, so there is a rough surface for the glue to adhere to. I then get the superglue and squeeze a generous amount of it into the blank, and then use a cotton bud to spread it evenly around the blank. Getting any glue on the skin should be avoided but if it happens acetone is used to remove it.
The brass tube is then inserted into the blank in a twisting movement which also helps to spread the glue over the tube. The tube is then pushed into the blank so that it lies a couple of millimetres below the surface of the blank. This eliminates most of the waste as well as leaving room to square the blanks
Squaring The Blanks
After gluing, the blanks should be left for a number of days to cure. This results is better bonding between the two surfaces and also leaves less chance of them separating in the future. This also aids the sanding process as glue that is not completely cured tends to clog sandpaper when squaring the ends of the blanks. Before squaring the ends of the blanks though, any excess at the other end of the blank is trimmed.
Squaring of the blanks is achieved on a disc sander with the cheeks set at 90 degrees to the disc. This can be guaranteed if you use a mitre gauge set at the correct angle. The blanks are rotated on the body of the blank to make certain of an evenly sanded blank. Once this process is complete, the blank is almost ready to go onto the lathe.
The next step is to clean any excess glue from the inside of the blank. This is achieved by poking the pen mill along its full length into the centre of the blank and twisting. By doing this it separates the glue from the inside of the tube. Simply peel any residue glue of the mill. Removing the burr from the end of the brass tube which is present after squaring the blanks is also achieved at this point. If this step is not followed it will make it hard to assemble the pens.
At this point it is a good idea to mark the inside of the tube at the centre so that at the assembly stage they can be easily indentified for correct position in assembly. The blanks are now ready to be put on the mandrel, they should be tightened firmly but not over tight as this tends to bow the mandrel. For further instructions on how to turn pen blanks follow this link.