From IAP-Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The tools required for pen turning are of different categories.

Power Tools[edit]

Power Tools has it's own page because of the number of different power tools used by pen turners.


Lathes can range from very tiny to very large.  All can be used to make pens, but smaller sizes limit what you can do in the future.  Look for a lathe with a MT2 taper in the head stock.

Lathe Tools[edit]

This is it's own category because of the number of different types of turning tools that are used by pen crafters, and because a number of those will break down into their own pages.

Spindle Gouge

Used for spindle work like pens, bottle stoppers, and candlesticks.  Do NOT use a spindle gouge on a bowl or platter.

Bowl Gouge[edit]

Used for turning bowls, platters, and other turned forms.  A bowl gouge can be used to turn pens, but not recommended.


A flat bar tool that is normally used on the interior of bowls to remove turning marks and improve the surface.


The skew produces a superior surface finish that requires little sanding and has no tear out.  A learning curve is needed to use the skew effectively.

This is a short video by Jet on how to use the skew (external link).

The bevel on a skew is sharpened using a flat grind.  A skew that is ground on a grinding wheel will have a hollow grind and be "grabby" and prone to catches.

Parting tool[edit]

This tool has limited use with pen turning.

Carbide Tools[edit]

Carbide tools are used on very hard or difficult to turn materials like Tru-Stone. They are generally used like a scraper  and like scrapers do not generally produce as good a finish as tools that cut rather than scrape.  Many people use carbide tools exclusively and like them.

  • Replaceable carbide bits are held with a screw and the carbide bit is replaceable and can be sharpened.  
  • Carbide Tipped Tools have the carbide is brazed or welded onto the end of the turning tool.  It is generally not replaceable, but can be sharpened with a diamond plate.

Hand Tools[edit]

Drill Bits[edit]

Drill bits are essential to drilling accurately sized holes in blanks.   115 piece sets with Fractional, Letter, and Number bits sell for $30 to $60 and with a drill size chart will allow you to drill close fitting holes in blanks.

Pen Mill

A pen mill is a piloted cutter that makes certain the end of pen blank is at exactly 90° to the brass tube.

Pen Press

A press is needed to insert the fittings into the brass tube.  Almost any device that can apply a controlled pressure and is padded to prevent damage to the pen blank fittings can be used.  Woodworkers vice, bench vise with protective jaws, even a hand squeeze clamp can be used.  Even the lathe can be used to press fittings into the tube.

Transfer Punch Set[edit]

Transfer punches come in a set like drill bits from 1/16" to 1/2"+ in 1/64" increments. These are useful for disassembling a pen if a mistake is made or parts need replacement.  You can find these at Harbor Freight, Enco, or Woodcraft and other suppliers that stock metalworking supplies. Clean all the oil off them.

Measuring Tools[edit]