There are countless gadgets that can simplify turning pens. If you get as hooked on pen turning as I have, you may find yourself turning many more pens. I often turn as many as five to 10 pens at a time. Here are a few things that can speed up this production process a bit.You can find them at the pen supply sources listed in the Sources box on the facing page.
While a clamp will work for assembling your pens, a dedicated pen press applies more even and consistent pressure. It will help prevent pressing your tip advance mechanism too far into the barrel.
Rockler Pen Blank Drilling Jig
Although I prefer using a hand screw clamp for holding my blanks on the drill press, there are a variety of great shop-made and commercial solutions for holding the tiny blanks straight. Rockler sells a helpful drilling jig for pen blanks.
Sorby 3/8″ Spindlemaster Gouge
I prefer to use gouges to do as much work as possible before I switch to sandpaper. This little time-saver from Sorby will allow you to make nice beads or coves, and it cuts a smooth finish. I generally use it as the last gouge I run over the piece before sanding.
7mm Barrel Trimmer
Occasionally, you may need to trim the brass barrels shorter, and nothing works better than this barrel trimming tool. With carbide cutters and a 7mm shaft holding the cutters perpendicular to the blank, you’ll get perfectly flush ends every time. It also cleans out glue that may have ended up inside the barrel. You don’t have to own a barrel trimmer to turn a few pens, but it would be one of my first pick-ups if I were going to make more than a couple of pens.
EEE-Ultra Shine Paste Wax
Not a necessary part of your finishing process, but EEE-Ultra Shine adds a very nice luster to your pen projects. It’s a wax polish containing fine abrasives that bring your 400-grit sanding job to the equivalent of a 2,000-grit sandpaper finish.