Using a drill press to square off turned blank ends - International Association of Penturners
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Valley Center CA
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Default Using a drill press to square off turned blank ends

I love cool jigs and fixtures, but my shop is full and my bank account isn't and I needed a dead-on accurate way to square the ends of blanks after turning and finishing. This is what works for me.

The basic setup is simply the drill press, a set of transfer punches, a small piece of smooth plywood (mine is a 12" square of baltic birch), and assorted sandpaper. I don't glue the sandpaper down, because I shift it around a lot as I work. Clean sandpaper cuts much faster.

Find the right size punch for the tube you are using, and chuck it with the point up. This will keep the plywood from getting wrecked. Adjust the drill press so that there is enough gap to get the workpieces in and out, and for the punch to make firm contact with the sandpaper.

Please note that this is strictly a non-powered operation. The drill press is just a guide.

Place the workpiece on the punch, lower it down to the sandpaper, and twirl it back and forth a couple of times. That's usually all it takes.

Norton 3X 220 cuts fast and clean, but delicate woods require finer grits. If you're trying to do unturned blanks, get some 100 grit and pack a lunch. It will take a while!
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I like the idea. I may have to give that a shot. On my Slims I just freehand it. On a larger barrel, I'll need something like this.
* Insert fart joke here *
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wood the drill bit work? I mean you already have the 7mm bit in the chuck. Just throw on the blank and sand away.
U.S.Navy (ret)
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"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons." Douglas MacArthur
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hmm. I don't think so. I have never tried, but since the bit makes a hole that is bigger than the OD of the tube, it stands to reason that it wouldn't fit in the ID of the tube. Even if it did, the point of the drill bit will quickly wreck the surface of the plywood and you will no longer have a smooth surface to back the sandpaper. You could avoid this by not bringing the bit all the way down, but I have found that holding the sandpaper with the punch makes it work much better than allowing it to squirm all over the place.

Like I said, this is what works for me. I would just as soon put sharp things out of reach of my fingers. A slim transmission got the top of my thumb in the last pic, and I don't want them conspiring with the drill bits to get me in some other way. ;)

Last edited by MyronW; 12-23-2011 at 03:02 AM. Reason: It was late and I wasn't thinking straight.
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Old 12-25-2011, 05:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I thought a we a were supposed to square them before turning and finishing.
Do a good turn daily!

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Old 12-25-2011, 06:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by its_virgil View Post
I thought a we a were supposed to square them before turning and finishing.
Do a good turn daily!
Thats what i've been doing too!! With a barrel trimming kit... otherwise, if your blank is not square on the ends when you mount it to turn it, it won't turn true???

Dave - Holden Missouri
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Old 12-25-2011, 07:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thats correct Dave in fact you can bend the mandrel and end up with a pen thats not round. I rough turn the blank round then use a chuck to hold the blank while I true the ends with a skew. Most effective and accurate way I have found to do it so far.
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Old 12-27-2011, 01:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Smile Maybe the thread title should be different

Of course you're supposed to have everything square first, and if you try to use this method to do it, you will think I'm a blithering idiot and come take away all of my toys!

When I was taking the pictures for the first post, I took a rough blank that I had already squared with a pen mill and used this method to see how long it would take to get rid of the proud corners. First I used a clean sheet of Norton 3X 320. I gave that up pretty quick and went to 220. I wised up there pretty fast, too, and switched to 150. And rubbed, twirled, rubbed, twirled, and finally said the heck with this nonsense. There is is just too much hard end grain surface area to deal with to waste time like this.

A turned blank, however, is just a thin ring, and trues up very fast. I don't possess the skew wizardry yet to risk a finished blank, so fast manual methods suit me just fine.

I really should have titled this thread "This Is How I Use a Drill Press to Gently Square Up Turned and Finished Blanks Just Before I Assemble Them So That They Will Lay Up Dead Flat Against My Components With No Daylight Showing".

In all sincerity, thanks for the feedback. Reading back through my original post, I can see that I did not clearly define the problem, and I understand how my solution caused head-scratching. So, just for clarity, I was unhappy with the way my pen barrels were fitting against the components. There were slight gaps and irregularities, and I just couldn't bring myself to buy a jig when I knew there had to be a cheap or free way to do the job. It's really just a vertical, non-powered adaptation of the various transfer punch and disk sander methods for rough blanks, with a light touch.
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Myron; That is a great idea! I use a disk sander and jig, but the drill press concept is a good one.

I make sleeves for all the tubes larger than 7mm. The sleeve is just a 7mm tube cut from 12" lengths.
Randy S.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Seems like a whole bunch of extra work to me or am I missing something.?

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Yogi Berra.
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