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How To Make A Pen?


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#1 chuckknight

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 05:38

I have never made a pen before, in my life. So, please forgive the basic nature of these questions?

In plain English, what is involved in making a pen?

I know that at stores like WoodCraft, I can buy the insides of ball point pens, glue them into a wooden blank, and then just turn the outside of the blank into whatever shape I desire. But, is this the process that is used for a fountain pen? And, is that considered "making" a pen?

Simplify it for me, if you would...what is the *basic* process? And what materials/tools would I need to get started in this hobby? It seems like it would be entirely too much fun.

Edited by chuckknight, 18 December 2011 - 05:39.


#2 dickydotcom

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 07:09

There is the simple method making a pen from a kit.
You get a blank, which can be wood, resin or acrylic.
Drill a hole to take a brass tube, so you need a fairly accurate method of drilling, either a pillar drill or drill stand.
Next glue the brass tube inside the hole you made. No tools required.
Trim the ends; The pen kit supplier will sell a tool which fits in your drill and neatly squares off the end.
Next turn the blank to size; you need a lathe, or a lathe bed that you fit your drill to. (that's what I've always used)
You also need a mandrel to hold the blanks on the lathe but again the kit supplier will sell these.
And some cutting tools, and very very fine abrasives.
Next fit all the pen parts. Usually a tight push fit. There are special tools but a quick grip bar clamp will do the job if you have one.
There are some great kits out there; Just google "pen kit" and you'll find a lot of places selling all you need.

Then there are the kit free pens where you will need a much better quality lathe to be able to create your own threads.
I've always fancied having a go but been reluctant to make the investment.
I'll leave that area for someone else who knows how.

If you just scoll through this forum you'll see some wonderful kit based work, as well as non kit.
It's a great way to start.
Dick D

#3 Beechwood

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 09:53

Helpful vid on Youtube


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#4 drgoretex

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 18:08

First of all, DO IT!! You will love it!

Second, do yourself a HUGE favour and joint the IAP website (International Association of Penturners) Here it is. There is an enormous amount of info there, for beginner and very experienced alike. Truly an awesome resource for anyone interested in pen turning.

Third - Be ready to spend a few bucks. The lathe, tools, mandrels, etc will likely cost a bit (say, between $200 - 500). After that, you can find some pretty good deals on pen kits. And, you can probably start selling them to make back a few bucks after even a few pens, depending on how they come out.

Fourth - Again, DO IT! It is very, very addictive.

Feel free to PM with Q's. I am sure any one of the penturners here would be happy to help out.

Best of luck!

Ken

#5 chuckknight

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 18:40

My workshop already contains a wood lathe, and a 1953 vintage drill press with vertical turning and milling capabilities. I also have a long term project, converting a cross slide vise into a 2-axis CNC platform, but am stumbling somewhat on the electronics. :) Anyone here good with stepper control circuits?

Though I've never made a *pen,* I do have a decent workshop.

I've seen those pen kits at Woodcraft, before, but with the tubes and the glues, it never seemed like pen *making.* More like turning a tube, and gluing in someone else's pen parts.

My ideal would be the ability to purchase a cheap but decent pen like the Jinhaos, disassemble them, and use the parts in my own pen body.

#6 watch_art

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 19:05

$200-500??? THAT'S IT??? Holy cow. I may have to get into this myself!

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#7 firewhatfire

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 19:07

Those woodcraft kits are a great way to get your feet wet. It at least gets you practice getting things sized the way you like them. No sense wasting quality material to make a mess when you can do it with cheap stuff first. Like the others have said we will help as you have questions.

Phil
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#8 chuckknight

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 19:24

Now, if I could just find a mini-mill, I have just the spot for it. Yeah, yeah, I know HarborFreight carries a decent one...but it takes so much time to scrape the ways and tune it, that I'd rather find an old piece of good American iron on CraigsList. Unfortunately, they're kind of pricey this time of year.

Maybe after Christmas?

So, is anyone good with electronics? I just need help with a basic circuit, so I can control a couple of steppers.

Edited by chuckknight, 18 December 2011 - 19:25.


#9 drgoretex

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 20:31

Well. Way ahead of me already! I do everything on a wood lathe.

Ken

#10 chuckknight

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 20:47

Having tools, and using them skillfully, are two very different things.

I know people who carve wood with nothing more than a penknife, whose work exceeds that of people with 5 axis CNC routers.

It's not the tool. It's the craftsman. I have enormous respect for the craftsmen, among us.

#11 dickydotcom

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 10:00

$200-500??? THAT'S IT??? Holy cow. I may have to get into this myself!

Can be much less if you use a drill powered lathe bed instead of buying a lathe.
Dick D

#12 watch_art

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:38


$200-500??? THAT'S IT??? Holy cow. I may have to get into this myself!

Can be much less if you use a drill powered lathe bed instead of buying a lathe.
Dick D




okay - now I'm really interested.

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#13 Hex

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 13:35

$200-500??? THAT'S IT??? Holy cow. I may have to get into this myself!


It can be a lot cheaper. I have made a lot of pens with just a drill press. It takes longer to get the blank down to shape but it's not too bad.
Hex, aka George

#14 dickydotcom

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Posted 20 December 2011 - 17:07



$200-500??? THAT'S IT??? Holy cow. I may have to get into this myself!

Can be much less if you use a drill powered lathe bed instead of buying a lathe.
Dick D




okay - now I'm really interested.

here's a link
http://toolmonger.co...rning-under-30/
Dick D

#15 hbquikcomjamesl

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 01:20

Hmm. I've done a bit of turning with a drill press. And once or twice, with a Milwaukee 1/2" D-handle drill motor clamped into a bench vise. (And out of morbid curiosity, I know that anything precise enough to be dignified with the term "milling capability" is beyond your average drill press, but what kind of drill press doesn't have "vertical turning capability" on at least a crude level?

And I don't think I've ever heard of lathe-beds designed to hook up to a drill motor. I've heard of vaguely lathe-like tools that are hand-cranked, and use a router to do the cutting, and I've seen (and even designed, but not actually built) ways to build your own "spring pole" wood lathe, but nothing for a drill motor.

The small amount of turning necessary for my Pirre Paul penbash (cutting off the blind end of the barrel, to turn it into an external fill-knob) was done on a drill press, with (as I recall) a razor saw hand-held on top of a block of wood.
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#16 chuckknight

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:37

Hmm. I've done a bit of turning with a drill press. And once or twice, with a Milwaukee 1/2" D-handle drill motor clamped into a bench vise. (And out of morbid curiosity, I know that anything precise enough to be dignified with the term "milling capability" is beyond your average drill press, but what kind of drill press doesn't have "vertical turning capability" on at least a crude level?


*Any* drill press can be used for vertical turning. Some, however, have extra bearings that are designed for the specific loads involved with turning and burnishing. On one it's a hack, on the other it's a design feature. Mine has those features, and was only a benchtop model...hellishly heavy for something that is designed to be portable.

Posted Image
Posted Image

You can see the difference in the bearings attaching and supporting the uppermost part of the spindle. Definitely beefier than a traditional drill press.

Mine is an old ToolKraft unit, and it originally came with accessories like router fences and milling bits. Wish I had all the original stuff, as it would be even cooler. There are very few tools made to the standards of classic American iron.

I'm still kicking myself for missing out on that Atlas lathe for $100.

Edited by chuckknight, 21 December 2011 - 02:42.


#17 watch_art

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 02:51

here's a link
http://toolmonger.co...rning-under-30/
Dick D


That's awesome!
But now it's a bit more expensive.
http://www.google.co...ved=0CDEQ8wIwAA

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#18 richardandtracy

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 09:45

Shawn,

How handy are you? From your descriptions of some of the things you've done I'd expect 'Very' is the answer, so you may be interested in some very inexpensive lathes that you could make yourself:
First a lathe:
http://www.lathes.co...ultimachine.pdf
Second a complete machineshop (as you have done casting, this should be no problem):
http://www.lindsaybk...ries/index.html
I have the Gingery shaper book, and it's superb.

Regards,

Richard.

#19 watch_art

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 14:29

Wow! Those are great resources. Thanks!

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