Common Pen Turning Problems

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mkemmet

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Joined
Jan 19, 2016
Messages
9
Location
Van Meter, Iowa
I've been asked to do a pen turning demo, but instead of just the process (which has been covered), they've asked me to focus on common pen turning mistakes. I've been turning for many years so I've probably solved most of my problems such as the wood separating from the brass tube. What are common problems or mistakes you've encountered or viewed that would need addressing? Thanks in advance.
 
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jttheclockman

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Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
12,359
Location
NJ, USA.
Oh my goodness how much time do you have?? What area are you wanting to focus on. Prepping blank to mount on lathe------turning blank with proper technique and tools----using bushings or turning between centers for better fit----- finishing---- Every aspect of pen making can have problems and as we do more and more we overlook these because we know about them now. That is an open ended question. :):):)
 

rholiday

Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2012
Messages
2,487
Location
Ft. Mill, South Carolina
Over turning
Under turning
Radial scratches
Chip out
Sanding / cutting the bushings reduces size
Sanding the bushing and dragging metal dust onto the blank
Acrylic that is not opaque
 

Penultimate

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Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
653
Location
Bartlett, IL 60103
Splitting the blank after assembly.
Trimming a blank too short.
Forgetting to paint the blank/tube
Switching the blanks lengths on a two part pen
Having the CA glue dry before getting the blank all the way on a tube.
Not getting rid of all the radial scratches


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leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
6,737
Location
Tunica, MS,
Dull tools thinking they are "sharp enough".

Slightly dulling skew/scraper and then pressing too hard to make up the difference.

Not understanding the differences between soft woods, hard woods and casting resin. EACH turns differently and requires minor changes in the approach.

Not squaring the ends to the tubes.

Not using calipers

Spritzing accelerator on the fingers while in contact with CA.
 

ajollydds

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Messages
265
Location
Colorado
Glueing a tube in the blank with gorilla glue and finding out the next day that I forgot to tape the end of the blank to prevent to tube from trying to escape.
 

Woodchipper

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Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
2,530
Location
Cleveland, TN
Start with this- Take a handful of twenty dollar bills, take the group into the restroom and flush the bills. My last venture to Woodcraft cost me almost $200 with pen blanks and kits on sale. The good news is that my wife picked them out. She keeps asking when I'm going to get a cheap hobby.
Seriously, the previous posts hit on some things that I see come up on the forum on a regular basis. They are not anything major but are small things that can pop up from time to time. Have a good demo. Let us know how it turned (no pun here) out.
 

brailsmt

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Messages
102
Location
Kansas City, MO, USA
Bending the pen mandrel
Repairing chip out
Not painting the tubes/inner barrel on translucent acrylic
Catches that go below the thickness of the bushings
Not backing out the drill bit enough to clear acrylic from the bit, causing it to fuse to the blank
Backing the tailstock chuck out too far, causing the taper to disengage, panicking and pulling out tailstock all the way, sending the tailstock chuck, still inside the blank, flying across the room
Just wearing your normal glasses and getting an acrylic chip in your eye
Sharpening your barrel trimmer on the wrong edge, ruining its profile and rendering it useless
Pressing pieces of the kit to the wrong side of the tube


I'll have more, new and exciting ways to screw up later tonight, since I'm making some more pens tonight.
 

mecompco

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Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
1,607
Location
Fairfield, Maine
Drilling the upper barrel (say at 12.5 mm), then drilling the lower barrel without changing bits. This only happens on the finest blanks.
earl
I was going to say exactly this. I will forever now start with the smaller bit size.
Besides the obvious, I've found another reason to always drill the smaller blank first. I always drill, then cut my blanks on the band-saw so as to avoid blowing out the end. If I cut carefully, a 10.5 bit will leave a nice dimple for the 12.5 bit to start in (I do carefully mark the blank so it will go back into the pen jaws in exactly the same place). Doesn't work so well if you drill the 12.5 hole first.
 

Woodchipper

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
2,530
Location
Cleveland, TN
Just wearing your normal glasses and getting an acrylic chip in your eye
Good eye protection is a must. An example- my wife was mowing the yard this summer and got something in her eye. She wears prescription glasses. Problem
went on for a couple of days and she decided to see the optometrist. He discovered a tiny fragment of plastic the mower must have picked up. He removed it and now she wears a pair of safety glasses over her Rx glasses. The ear pieces are wide, acting as a side shield. The eye part has a shield that keeps things from coming under the lens.
I wear a full face shield when turning.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
Messages
724
Location
Wolf Creek Montana
Cutting yourself on a sharp turning tool and only knowing you've cut yourself after you notice a red tinge on the piece your turning. Happened to me the first time in a lot of years just the other day.

Respirator or lack there of. I don't know how many times I've seen videos with people turning all kinds of stuff without using a proper respirator.

Gluing my fingers together.

Locking myself out of the shop and having to climb through a window while trying to avoid the various tools.

I once had a Possum in my shop that took several hours to get to the door and back outside. Boy...they sure look mean.

Distraction while working. I've launched quite a few things across my shop by being distracted.

Having a first aid kit without any of the first aid items inside. Doesn't do any good to have a kit if you can't use.

I've done a lot of really dumb stuff that makes great stories but some of them I'll keep to myself.
 

mecompco

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
1,607
Location
Fairfield, Maine
Cutting yourself on a sharp turning tool and only knowing you've cut yourself after you notice a red tinge on the piece your turning. Happened to me the first time in a lot of years just the other day.

Respirator or lack there of. I don't know how many times I've seen videos with people turning all kinds of stuff without using a proper respirator.

Gluing my fingers together.

Locking myself out of the shop and having to climb through a window while trying to avoid the various tools.

I once had a Possum in my shop that took several hours to get to the door and back outside. Boy...they sure look mean.

Distraction while working. I've launched quite a few things across my shop by being distracted.

Having a first aid kit without any of the first aid items inside. Doesn't do any good to have a kit if you can't use.

I've done a lot of really dumb stuff that makes great stories but some of them I'll keep to myself.
I think I've done all these, except for locking myself out. Oh, and we don't have possums here in Maine, but we have a bumper crop of squirrels this year. Haven't had one in the shop yet (plenty of mice, though) but I did have one manage to get from the attic into my bedroom. For some reason my wife was amused to see me tape a flashlight to my pellet gun at 1:00 am and proceed to try and ventilate the squirrel with it.
 

greenacres2

Member
Joined
May 2, 2017
Messages
903
Location
Northwest IN
Drilling the upper barrel (say at 12.5 mm), then drilling the lower barrel without changing bits. This only happens on the finest blanks.
earl
I was going to say exactly this. I will forever now start with the smaller bit size.
Besides the obvious, I've found another reason to always drill the smaller blank first. I always drill, then cut my blanks on the band-saw so as to avoid blowing out the end. If I cut carefully, a 10.5 bit will leave a nice dimple for the 12.5 bit to start in (I do carefully mark the blank so it will go back into the pen jaws in exactly the same place). Doesn't work so well if you drill the 12.5 hole first.
Great thought!!
earl
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
Messages
724
Location
Wolf Creek Montana
Cutting yourself on a sharp turning tool and only knowing you've cut yourself after you notice a red tinge on the piece your turning. Happened to me the first time in a lot of years just the other day.

Respirator or lack there of. I don't know how many times I've seen videos with people turning all kinds of stuff without using a proper respirator.

Gluing my fingers together.

Locking myself out of the shop and having to climb through a window while trying to avoid the various tools.

I once had a Possum in my shop that took several hours to get to the door and back outside. Boy...they sure look mean.

Distraction while working. I've launched quite a few things across my shop by being distracted.

Having a first aid kit without any of the first aid items inside. Doesn't do any good to have a kit if you can't use.

I've done a lot of really dumb stuff that makes great stories but some of them I'll keep to myself.
I think I've done all these, except for locking myself out. Oh, and we don't have possums here in Maine, but we have a bumper crop of squirrels this year. Haven't had one in the shop yet (plenty of mice, though) but I did have one manage to get from the attic into my bedroom. For some reason my wife was amused to see me tape a flashlight to my pellet gun at 1:00 am and proceed to try and ventilate the squirrel with it.
My parents had a neighbor who had a squirrel in his wall. One day he heard it in the wall and blasted it with a 12 gauge. He never knew if he got the squirrel but he blew a big whole in his wall. I don't think I've laughed so hard after I saw his handy work. I would pay to see you walking around in the middle of the night with a flashlight taped to your pellet gun. At least you used the right caliber gun.
 
Last edited:

WriteON

Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2013
Messages
1,446
Location
Lake Worth,Fl. / BlueBell, Pa.
Cutting yourself on a sharp turning tool and only knowing you've cut yourself after you notice a red tinge on the piece your turning. Happened to me the first time in a lot of years just the other day.

Respirator or lack there of. I don't know how many times I've seen videos with people turning all kinds of stuff without using a proper respirator.

Gluing my fingers together.

Locking myself out of the shop and having to climb through a window while trying to avoid the various tools.

I once had a Possum in my shop that took several hours to get to the door and back outside. Boy...they sure look mean.

Distraction while working. I've launched quite a few things across my shop by being distracted.

Having a first aid kit without any of the first aid items inside. Doesn't do any good to have a kit if you can't use.

I've done a lot of really dumb stuff that makes great stories but some of them I'll keep to myself.
I think I've done all these, except for locking myself out. Oh, and we don't have possums here in Maine, but we have a bumper crop of squirrels this year. Haven't had one in the shop yet (plenty of mice, though) but I did have one manage to get from the attic into my bedroom. For some reason my wife was amused to see me tape a flashlight to my pellet gun at 1:00 am and proceed to try and ventilate the squirrel with it.
My parents had a neighbor who had a squirrel in his wall. One day he heard it in the wall and blasted it with a 12 gauge. He never knew if he got the squirrel but he blew a big whole in his wall. I don't think I've laughed so hard after I saw his handy work. I would pay to see you walking around in the middle of the night with a flashlight taped to your pellet gun. At least you used the right caliber gun.
Common fault: Not reading instructions. Assembling pens without reviewing assembly instructions.
 
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