Bushings for multiple kits?

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Randy328

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As I'm researching tools and accessories needed for pen turning, I see different bushings for the kits. Are there any bushings that work for multiple kits within a given tube size? Being frugal I would rather purchase a couple sets of bushings that work for several kits as I start my journey. Then obviously I can add/replace as time goes by. Thank you all for any input.
 
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magpens

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There are not many bushing sets that work for more than one pen kit.

With one exception, as far as I know, the only bushing sets that work for more than one kit are within the PSI family of kits (Penn State Industries).

Several years ago, I stopped using bushings altogether. . You could make that decision right now at the beginning of your pen-making career.
It is a much better way to go and can save you the grief caused by bushings.

Many other IAP members (some encouraged my decision) have taken the same route and are very happy for it.

This alternative way of turning pen blanks to the correct size is called "Turning Between Centers", or TBC.

You will need a set of digital calipers to measure the size of your turned blank as you approach the correct size.
Also, you will need a 60-degree conical "dead-center" for your lathe headstock, and a similar "live-center" for your lathe tailstock.
The expense of acquiring these items is extremely well worth the investment, I can assure you. . You will want calipers for sure in any case.
The dead- and live-centers will last you forever, and a quality set of calipers will also.

This may at first sound like a more difficult procedure, but you quickly get a feeling for it and it is much better than using bushings.

One of the problems with bushings is that they tend to get "nicked" by your lathe tool, so you have to replace the bushings as they become unsuitable for further use. . Another issue is this: during sanding with bushings in place, some sanding strokes take off the bushing metal and transfer it to the surface of your nicely turned pen blank and cause it to become discolored with the result that it looks horrible ... the last thing you want when you are finishing a pen.

Not using bushings at all overcomes those problems and other problems as well. . There are quite a few threads/articles about the TBC method.
 

Woodchipper

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Woodcraft has a page in their catalogue that lists the bushings. With a bit of work, you could see which kits have common bushing sets. I'm going to try turning-between-centers in the next few days. Got the dead center from Amazon. Will report back.
 

ed4copies

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IF you choose not to use bushings, you lose one "control" over your pen-turning.

If there is crap in the tube (glue, resin, any other foreign junk), the bushing will not fit properly. IF you fix this to insert the bushing, your pen components WILL fit properly and you will not be as likely to crack your pen in assembly. Of course, if you do not insert the components in a straight line (you put them in "cocked"), you are still likely to crack the final pen. I can honestly say I have ruined more pens in assembly than any other single aspect of making my pens--so CONSIDER this as a potential cost of avoiding bushings.
 

Randy328

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There are not many bushing sets that work for more than one pen kit.

With one exception, as far as I know, the only bushing sets that work for more than one kit are within the PSI family of kits (Penn State Industries).

Several years ago, I stopped using bushings altogether. . You could make that decision right now at the beginning of your pen-making career.
It is a much better way to go and can save you the grief caused by bushings.

Many other IAP members (some encouraged my decision) have taken the same route and are very happy for it.

This alternative way of turning pen blanks to the correct size is called "Turning Between Centers", or TBC.

You will need a set of digital calipers to measure the size of your turned blank as you approach the correct size.
Also, you will need a 60-degree conical "dead-center" for your lathe headstock, and a similar "live-center" for your lathe tailstock.
The expense of acquiring these items is extremely well worth the investment, I can assure you. . You will want calipers for sure in any case.
The dead- and live-centers will last you forever, and a quality set of calipers will also.

This may at first sound like a more difficult procedure, but you quickly get a feeling for it and it is much better than using bushings.

One of the problems with bushings is that they tend to get "nicked" by your lathe tool, so you have to replace the bushings as they become unsuitable for further use. . Another issue is this: during sanding with bushings in place, some sanding strokes take off the bushing metal and transfer it to the surface of your nicely turned pen blank and cause it to become discolored with the result that it looks horrible ... the last thing you want when you are finishing a pen.

Not using bushings at all overcomes those problems and other problems as well. . There are quite a few threads/articles about the TBC method.
Thanks again for your input! Turning between centers is something I was strongly considering already so this just helps to solidify my decision. My one thought tho is that if I don't use any bushings when tbc, I will expand the ends of the tubes with the pressure from the centers. So was thinking about the tbc bushings at least to start. Perhaps this is covered in another thread, I'll need to go looking...
 

magpens

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IF you choose not to use bushings, you lose one "control" over your pen-turning.

If there is crap in the tube (glue, resin, any other foreign junk), the bushing will not fit properly. IF you fix this to insert the bushing, your pen components WILL fit properly and you will not be as likely to crack your pen in assembly. Of course, if you do not insert the components in a straight line (you put them in "cocked"), you are still likely to crack the final pen. I can honestly say I have ruined more pens in assembly than any other single aspect of making my pens--so CONSIDER this as a potential cost of avoiding bushings.
With all due respect, Ed ......... final assembly is a totally different issue from choosing to use bushings or choosing to turn between centers, is it not?

Whatever stage you are at, whatever you are doing, you need to ensure there is no crap in your brass tubes ..... that is fundamental.

I will also add that, if you learn to do without bushings, you actually GAIN CONTROL over the accuracy of the turning of your pen blanks.
 
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magpens

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Thanks again for your input! Turning between centers is something I was strongly considering already so this just helps to solidify my decision. My one thought tho is that if I don't use any bushings when tbc, I will expand the ends of the tubes with the pressure from the centers. So was thinking about the tbc bushings at least to start. Perhaps this is covered in another thread, I'll need to go looking...
Once the tubes are in your blank and glued, there is not going to be any significant expansion of the tubes due to the use of dead- and live-center.
Except perhaps a tiny bit of end distortion on the inner diameter of the brass tube, but the extent of that will be not worth worrying about.

You can use TBC Bushings for sure, but you don't need them. . They, themselves, introduce a degree of inaccuracy just as ordinary bushings, namely the uncertain centering of your blank axis with your lathe axis due to the 1 or 2 thou difference between your tube ID and the diameter of the bushing "stub" that goes into your brass tube. . Believe me or not, bushings are not made to as good accuracy as you would like.
 
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John Eldeen

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If go to PSI website find a pen kit that you would like to make. Then look up the bushings for the pen kit. When looking at the bushings click on the where to use tab this will tell you all of the kit that set of bushings will work on. A little bit of clicking around should get you to a set of bushings that will work for couple of different kits that you have an interest in making. Hope this helps.👍
 
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One of the problems with bushings is that they tend to get "nicked" by your lathe tool, so you have to replace the bushings as they become unsuitable for further use. . Another issue is this: during sanding with bushings in place, some sanding strokes take off the bushing metal and transfer it to the surface of your nicely turned pen blank and cause it to become discolored with the result that it looks horrible ... the last thing you want when you are finishing a pen.
Mal's got this one right 👍. Try turning Holly or Maple with steel bushings and see what happens. Not a pretty pen and usually not worth trying to sell. I've gone so far as make my own Delrin spacers so that the steel minute shavings don't transfer the Holly or Maple.
 

magpens

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Sounds GREAT!!!! Don't call me when you crack the blank! I have that call several times a month.
C'mon Ed !!! . We know that you would love any and all of us to call you for ANY reason !!! :) :):)

And we also know that you know that we know where our best source of info and stuff is !!!! ;) :):p

But one thing that you should stock and don't (as far as I know) is a set of straight-sided adjustable reamers.
I use such reamers ALL the time to clean out the brass tubes in preparation for assembly.

I know that a barrel trimmer can be used, but they are not nearly as generally useful as an adjustable reamer which isn't much more expensive.

I am thinking of the Grizzly set (and some places sell them individually):


I buy mine in Canada from BusyBeeTools.com and also from KBCTools.com
 
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jttheclockman

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Bushings are so cheap do yourself a favor if you are into using bushings just buy a set for every kit you use. Over time you will find the kits that you like to make and stop trying every rediculous kit out there. Way too many kits on the market.
 

greenacres2

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Last winter i started with Wayne's table from the Library, and began working on an Excel sheet so i could sort by hardware, drill, ID or OD sizes (and search by hardware. My format will make it easy to print labels for 13 dram containers. This winter, i'll probably go back to that project and MAYBE get enough done to print some labels. Some OD's are within .01" which puts it close enough to use calipers for a finish without buying a separate set of bushings to get to that point.

After doing what i've done for my label spreadsheet--i genuflect in the direction of Wayne!! Greatly respect the work that has gone into what he's done!!
earl
 

philipff

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With all due respect, Ed ......... final assembly is a totally different issue from choosing to use bushings or choosing to turn between centers, is it not?

Whatever stage you are at, whatever you are doing, you need to ensure there is no crap in your brass tubes ..... that is fundamental.

I will also add that, if you learn to do without bushings, you actually GAIN CONTROL over the accuracy of the turning of your pen blanks.
I always run a bore-cleaning brush (20 gauge) down each tube when it is still on the lathe and the insides shine like magic. P.
 

penicillin

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As I'm researching tools and accessories needed for pen turning, I see different bushings for the kits. Are there any bushings that work for multiple kits within a given tube size? Being frugal I would rather purchase a couple sets of bushings that work for several kits as I start my journey. Then obviously I can add/replace as time goes by. Thank you all for any input.
KISS

Wow. You are just starting out, ask for the time, and find yourself in a clockmaker's convention! These people are all experts, and have a lot of experience behind them, but perhaps it might be easiest to start out the "usual way" then move to the more advanced tricks.

The short answer to your question is: Yes, you can find bushings that work for multiple pens with the same tube size. The pens that can share bushings are almost always in the same "family" and look very much alike. It isn't common between pens that are not "look alike" in style.

Try the IAP app in your iPhone or Android phone. It costs $0.99, but pays for itself quickly. It has a database full of bushings and their sizes, and you can search for pens that match a given size. Don't be surprised when they turn out to be variants of the same pen.

The others are concerned about damage to bushings and losing accuracy. It is true, but way overblown. One extra sanding makes more of a difference. If you can get that good with your turning and sanding that you notice an issue with your bushing sizes, you are past the point where you need our help. Trust the bushings and your pens will be fine. You will learn how close you need to come to the bushings before you start the sanding and finishing process.

I take the metal bushings off and switch to plastic bushings for sanding and finishing. That way, your metal bushings last longer, and you don't risk getting metal bits in your wood. Just be careful to avoid rounding the sandpaper over the ends of your pen blanks after you carefully matched them to the bushings. I use these:
https://www.rockler.com/non-stick-pen-bushings-for-ca-finish

A digital caliper is a handy tool for measuring bushings and also your turning accuracy. Sometimes the pen parts don't match the bushings perfectly, and a caliper helps, but that is a lesson for another day.
 

Randy328

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KISS

Wow. You are just starting out, ask for the time, and find yourself in a clockmaker's convention! These people are all experts, and have a lot of experience behind them, but perhaps it might be easiest to start out the "usual way" then move to the more advanced tricks.

The short answer to your question is: Yes, you can find bushings that work for multiple pens with the same tube size. The pens that can share bushings are almost always in the same "family" and look very much alike. It isn't common between pens that are not "look alike" in style.

Try the IAP app in your iPhone or Android phone. It costs $0.99, but pays for itself quickly. It has a database full of bushings and their sizes, and you can search for pens that match a given size. Don't be surprised when they turn out to be variants of the same pen.

The others are concerned about damage to bushings and losing accuracy. It is true, but way overblown. One extra sanding makes more of a difference. If you can get that good with your turning and sanding that you notice an issue with your bushing sizes, you are past the point where you need our help. Trust the bushings and your pens will be fine. You will learn how close you need to come to the bushings before you start the sanding and finishing process.

I take the metal bushings off and switch to plastic bushings for sanding and finishing. That way, your metal bushings last longer, and you don't risk getting metal bits in your wood. Just be careful to avoid rounding the sandpaper over the ends of your pen blanks after you carefully matched them to the bushings. I use these:
https://www.rockler.com/non-stick-pen-bushings-for-ca-finish

A digital caliper is a handy tool for measuring bushings and also your turning accuracy. Sometimes the pen parts don't match the bushings perfectly, and a caliper helps, but that is a lesson for another day.
Lol, well said, I did start more of a discussion than I had inticipated. However with that said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. First because it is nice to have so many people willing to share their experiences. And second I learned more and have more to consider now then if I would have just received a straight simple answer. I cant wait until I ask for opinions on my choice of lathe and turning tools...😥😂 i'm currently leaning toward penn States 12in midi lathe with a starter kit combo, and a set of easy wood midi carbides.. But things may change, as they do.
 

Randy328

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I wanted to take a minute, and once again say thank you to everyone for your input and advice. This has proven to be a great community already! I am looking forward to more discussions, and am loving all the beautiful pens that I am seeing, gives me a goal as well as inspiration! Have a great day everyone!
 

Woodchipper

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I check the tube for glue. If needed, I ream it with a fine rat tail file. I insert the bushings to make sure the fit and don't bind. Also, I use a cartridge chamfer tool to lightly deburr the inside of the tube. Got some pens to make and will try my hand at TBC (turning between centers).
I have thought of using a shotgun or handgun mop to clean out the tube while the CA is still soft.
"As I'm researching tools and accessories needed for pen turning, "- Credit card with a high limit. ;)
 

pshrynk

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Wow. You are just starting out, ask for the time, and find yourself in a clockmaker's convention! These people are all experts, and have a lot of experience behind them, but perhaps it might be easiest to start out the "usual way" then move to the more advanced tricks.
Yeah, but I was so looking forward to watching Mal and Ed with carbide scrapers at ten paces... :p 🤕
 

Woodchipper

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I always run a bore-cleaning brush (20 gauge) down each tube when it is still on the lathe and the insides shine like magic.
I'm having a time imagining this. Wouldn't the ends of the tube be on the headstock and tailstock? It's late and I'm old. Like the idea of the brush.
 

philipff

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Sorry to cause confusion; the answer follows. When the tube is glued in and all set, I mount the blank in the chuck and trim the end until the metal shows bright. Then I run the brush in while turning and stop the lathe. Reversing the blank in the check I then trim the other end. I find a round nose scraper does a great job, followed by some 220 sandpaper. The blanks are then ready for mounting between centers for turning. Yes, this is a bit time consuming but I never care about bushings, or trimmers, or the other problems of "blank management", and no expenses either. I have been doing it this way for several years and have lots of time to kill since its all a fun hobby for me. p.
 

bryanturner

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Northampton UK
Turning between centres with 60degree tail and headstocks is one solution to not having to buy individual bushing sets fro each pen type, but this side of the pond we can get conical bushings which slide onto a standard pen mandrel (http://www.planetplusltd.com/) and these do the same job for the cost of a single bushing set. The only problem is they are too small for the tubes of the fattest pens but they work well for many sizes and the bushing's max diameter can be a useful gauge as you approach the size of the insert measurement.
 
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