John was much more correct than I was. I was heading you in the right direction, but John is hitting the nail on the head.Yes it is true that bushings get worn from tools hitting them or sandpaper hitting them but in my eyes they are not so much a consumable made out to be. I purposely turn my bushings down even when brand new and it does not bother me one bit they are now smaller than the kit. Why you ask, it is because bushings are just a guide. They are not the true dimension of the kit. This is the point that should be made to all new turners.
Learn to use a good set of calipers to tun your pens to. Measure the components and then turn the blank accordingly. I use bushing mainly to get me in the ballpark and to hold my blank. I have been using the same mandrel and bushing sets from the first time I bought them. No need to throw away good equipment.
Thanks so much for the info. I just started working for the Cincinnati, Ohio Rockler Store this past Monday. I’ll certainly be looking to purchase those non-stick bushings.I had similar problems. The root cause was the sandpaper touching the metal bushings and bringing fine metal particles onto (and into) the pen blank.
Before sanding, I change out the metal bushings and replace them with the cone shaped plastic ones. You can buy "non-stick" plastic bushings from many sources, and some people make their own. Here is the one I use:
You must be very careful to limit the sanding to the surface. Do not allow the sandpaper to round over or shrink the ends, especially considering how hard you worked to match the bushings (or caliper measurement).