Making Your Own Custom Pen Without A Lathe
posted on August 8, 2011 by Rockler

image of finished pen made from a rosewood pen blank

Instructions by Alice Weniger from Alice's Workshop

Making pens is very simple, inexpensive, and doesn't require much time. A great gift any time of the year.A pen can be made in under an hour without a lathe using the technique below.Ideally you would use a lathe and a turning set to turn pens, but not everyone has the space for a large tool, or they just simply can't afford one.

Tools and Materials Required:

image of rosewood pen blank cut in two pieces

Step 1: Take a pen blank, and cut it in half using your typical miter saw and box. Or use whatever tool you have that can cut through a piece of 1/2' material.

image of drill press drilling a hole in pen blank

Step 2: Drill a hole all the way through the center of both pieces lengthwise using a drill press and a 7 mm drill bit.

Pen blanks are basically just a strip of 5' X 1/2' X 1/2' wood or corian. You can either cut your own out of 1/2' stock, use pieces of scrap you have laying around in your shop, or buy precut blanks. The advantage of buying precut blanks is that you have many varieties of woods to choose from that you may have a hard time finding in your area. It also gives you a chance to to experiment with different woods before you go all out and and invest a small fortune on a wood you know nothing about.

image showing brass tube being inserted in pen blank with glue

Step 3: Sand the exterior of the brass tubes with 120 grit paper before gluing into the wood. This eliminates the oil from the brass tubes and allows for better bonding with the glue. Glue the brass tube that comes with your pen kit to the inside of each half of the blanks using Quick-Set Glue. Quick-Set Glue is easier and cleaner to use than epoxy glue.This step can get messy. So you may want to wear a pair of gloves. As for the glue inside the tube, use a pen mill to clean the glue out. A pen mill also squares off the ends of your pen blanks to ensure a perfect fit when it comes time to assemble your pen.

image showing the insertion of a pen mill into a pen blank

Step 4: Insert a pen mill into each of the blanks, and turn clockwise. Be sure to do both ends!

image showing the pen blanks mounted onto a mandrel with bushings

Step 5: Mount your pen blanks onto a mandrel, along with 3 bushings (one on each end and one in the middle, separating the 2 blanks).

Step 6: Use a drill press and a sanding drum to rough out the shape of the pen.

image showing sanding drums on the drill press being used for sanding the pen blanks into a rounded shape

There is an advantage to owning sanding drums. If you don't have any, you can achieve step 6 by hand, by using a sander, or by using whatever tool you may have that can round the edges.

image showing the mandrel mounted to a drill press and a piece of sand paper attached to a piece of wood being used to sand the finished pieces

Step 7: Mount your mandrel onto your drill press, and use a piece of sandpaper glued onto a piece of plywood, to make the wood flush with the bushings.

Step 8: This is what your pen blanks should look like when your done sanding. If you plan on applying a finish to your pen like lacquer, varnish, turning wax, or even painting a design on it, now would be the time to do it!

image showing what your pen blanks look like when done sanding and ready for finish

Step 9: The hard part is over with! Remove your blanks from the mandrel, and assemble your pen using your pen kit. Press everything together.

image of a finished rosewood pen

You're done!

For the finishing touch we suggest the usage of a sophisticated high-gloss Crystal Coat finish.

Jet Pen Lathe

If the above techniques don't suit your needs you can accomplish the same tasks effortlessly with the Excelsior Mini Lathe, a great addition to any shop, and a great entry point into the world of wood turning!

Instructions are used by permission from Alice's Workshop

posted on August 8, 2011 by Rockler
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I have been ordering from Rockler for almost 20 years and have found their products to be very inexpensive and of high quality. Shipping is fast even when an item is back ordered. The best prices I have found anywhere."

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What People are Saying:

I have been ordering from Rockler for almost 20 years and have found their products to be very inexpensive and of high quality. Shipping is fast even when an item is back ordered. The best prices I have found anywhere."

- Orval - 08/07/2012
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