Finally! My titanium fountain pen.

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mike_l

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I am in awe. I wouldn't even know where to start on something like that. Way to "think outside the box." That pen is art.

Mike L
 

btboone

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Thanks guys. [:)] Jake, I need to take a few pics of the shop and the lathe. I was thinking that as I was drilling the holes, and coolant was blasting like Niagara Falls, but I was too nervous to leave the machine while it ran for the first time.

Here's the detailed version of how I made it:
I started with the pen cap and turned it cantilevered out of the spindle from 5/8" solid titanium stock. I had to dial in speeds and feeds to keep it from hitting a resonance and making chatter marks on the outside. I parted it off, so now I have a nicely turned surface that is curved and can't be clamped on.

I made a special collet that had the inside bore that matched the outside of the surface. I tried one out of plastic, but found that the hydraulic chuck squashed it out of shape when it was drilled out. I made another in aluminum and milled some lines to divide the collet into 3 jaws. The collet was made with a 1" outside diameter to match the bore of my chuck jaws. Since the pen cap goes over center a little bit and starts curving back inward, I realized that it would be tough to get the part in and out of the stiff collet, so I added a threaded hole to the bottom so I could put in a bolt and use that to jack the part out of the collet after it was drilled. I used a milling vise to push the part into the collet at the start. It was snug as a bug when the part was in the collet and because the curve precisely match the outside curve of the collet, I wasn't worried about the hydraulic chuck jaws clamping down on the collet and crushing the part.

I drilled a double hole and bored a little bit of a taper on the inside of the cap that matched the pen body. When the turned part was complete, I chucked the part in my milling vise to drill the holes for the clip. I made a plastic nosecone for the pointy part so I wouldn't crush it while champing the part in the front to back orientation. I used a tiny endmill to drill the holes for the clip using XY coordinates for location. I had to be extremely careful because the clip holes are way on the rounded outside of the part and would easily deflect and snap the small endmill.

I made a plastic mandrel for the clip on my machining center. This gave the theoretical elliptical curve that I was shooting for. Since the titanium wire I used for the clip was so springy, I couldn't simply bend the metal to the mandrel, but had to overbend it by quite a bit in order to hold the shape. I could bend it by hand and used needlenosed pliers to bend it. I used the mandrel to check my progress.

I cleaned up the surface and anodized the clip in a homemade anodizer. I increased the voltage from around 26 volts to around 40 volts while pulling the clip out of the bath. This made the anodized color fade.

The main body was a bit more challenging to make. I first drilled the stock with two very deep holes while the 5/8" barstock was short in the lathe chuck. There is an inside step that was bored then too. I tapped the threads for the nib by hand. I then pulled the bar out to full length and brought in my tailstock. I turned the outside of the part leaving it attached by a 1/8" stalk at the tip end. I snapped the finish turned part off by hand and had to hand grind the tip to the normal point.

The mokume material was slit to proper width and rolled by hand around a metal piece to the approximate diameter needed. I sheared it to length and proceeded to hammer it into the undercut groove. The part was soldered with as small a seam as possible and any remaining stock was hammered to as low a position as possible. The Mokume was hand ground down to flush with sanding discs. The pen was then hand finished with fine sanding discs and micromesh until around an 8000 grit. I then polished it out with hard cotton buffs and a large buffing wheel. Assembly consisted of pressing in the clip and screwing in the nib.
 

DCBluesman

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What a story! I wonder where I stashed that $65 grand and what portion of my brain houses the ability to reproduce, much less design such a pen. The market for this pen is small but VERY sweet. Folks that have the dough for it don't think twice. I'm thinking it needs to be in an airline magazine. Get those busy execs. Or better yet, let me market it for you!
 

btboone

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Lou, if you think you have a market for it (them), we can talk. Fred, to do it from scratch with the programs written and fixtures working and the benefit of hindsight, maybe a few hours. The mokume was the toughest part. I'm assuming that part can be changed to something else like the slots I want to do. This also assumes some multitasking. I'm still not sure if the Morse Taper fit is the ultimate answer for the cap, but I sure like not having any threads. Maybe there's a way to sneak in some 5 start threads or something where it doesn't take from the design so much.
 

melogic

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Bruce,
That is in the truest since of the word "Art". I am proud to say that I am a member of the same organization of the person that created this fine work of art.
 

woodscavenger

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"The main body was a bit more challenging to make." [:0]LOL. Bruce says this after a half page dialogue on making custom fixture and such for the top! Amazing.

I had a question. I understand the difficulty of drilling a couple of hole in the round penstock to fit the custom wire clip, but on pen blanks mine start square. Wouldn't I be able to predrill the holes for the clip before rounding it on my mandrel? Where could I find some of that wire? Are there any other wires (titanium or other metals) that have a nice spring to them that would lend themselves to making custom clips?
 

btboone

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Woodscavenger, that's a great idea. The trick there would be to be sure that the measured hole coordinates were actually in the center of the turned stock (not necessarily the rough stock) like they should be since any runout would make them offcenter to the part.

I used .050" titanium wire from www.smallparts.com They are around $8 for 3 feet of it. Stainless steel wire should work as well. There are some thin welding rods that could possibly work of the raw wire could not be found. I'd suggest McMaster Carr or MSC as possible sources for that.

Mark, Thanks for the kind words.

The more challenging part of making the main pen body is that my lathe is very tight on space, and I found that my coolant nozzle of the outside turning tool will hit the the tailstock when the part is turned. I also learned that it's a bad idea to have a $70 drill sticking out in the next tool slot over when turning the thin part of the pen body. Doh! It whacked right into the side of the rotating chuck. That didn't occur to me because I turn my rings with it riding there all the time and it never hits. Comes close enough that you can't watch, but never hits.
 

btboone

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Gregory, I think some of my early attempts at the puzzle pen might very well win the ugly pen contest. The polyester never did completely set down in those grooves. Not a pretty sight.
 
G

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Bruce,

I gotta tell you. I loved the first photo I saw of this pen. It was unique, a tough material to work with, and a one of a kind creation. Great photo too.

Having seen the capped and posted photo's though, I have to pull back, ever so slightly.

With the cap posted, it still looks fine. Unique, refined, and the shape flows.

When the pen is capped however, it seems less sleek. A great technical achievement...without a doubt. When it is capped, something just isn't quite right.

This is just one person's opinion though, so take it for what it is worth, I am the pen critic.

If anyone would like a private critique, you can e-mail me through the forum, or directly at... PenCritic@aol.com

Best wishes to all.

The Pen Critic
 

btboone

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Good call. I originally had the cap about 1/8" shorter which looked quite a bit better in my opinion. I found that I had drawn the nib from a top view but not from a side view to get my inside dimensions. I needed to move things out a bit when I saw how far offcenter the nib is in relation to the centerline of the pen. It doesn't flow quite as I intended in the capped position, but I had to work the shape to best fit both ends OK. It's actually quite tough to get geometry that looks dialed from both sides and can still post. I wanted the overriding design element to be the smooth flowing body when the cap was off.
 

woodscavenger

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That is why I think you should make a pen that does not post. You could create a little desk set like I have seen on this site with a wood base, a little pedestal for the pen to lay on when cappped and not in use, and a post )from wood or titanium) for the user to put the cap on while writing. With most of my fountain pens they become a little unweildy with the cap on so I end up holding it in my other hand or placing it on the desk anyway. Go for the non-post type. Just my vocal humble opinion. While you're at it, you could send me the prototype for testing! [:)]
 

btboone

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Great ideas woodscavenger. I need to see what's possible. Obviously, having a metal pen to begin with is heavier than most, so it does make sense to not have to post. It could free up the design a bit more. I had a heck of a time getting a shape that worked on both ends. What about the clip in that case? Do those types of pens go without clips?

Hmm. I'm thinking of a one piece titanium stand, maybe 1 1/4" diameter with a trumpet bell shape that necks up to around a half inch wide at the top which would be around 1 1/4" tall. The pen could stand up in the base (nib end up) when not in use, and it could be used to hold the cap as well. Is storing the pen upright like that OK to do? Anything to watch for or be aware of?
 

RussFairfield

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The pen is beautiful and worth a high price, but the nib will limit its value. That is always the limiting factor when we use a nib from a kit. I hav yet to find a fountain pen person who is willing to put out big money for a pen with a $5 plated steel nib, regardless of how good it looked. Anybody paying a high price for a pen will demand an 18K gold alloy nib to match the quality of the pen. They are available, but will probably have to be modified to fit.

This one is worth that extra effort.
 

btboone

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Russ, I wonder if it's best to offer the customer the choice of nibs for a pen like this or pick a nice one myself. What do you think? It's all new to me.
 

RussFairfield

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The selection may have to be yours because you are going to be somewhat limited by what will fit or can be modified to fit. You should start with a call to Jim at Berea. Besides being the owner of Berea, he is a fountain pen collector. He will know what will fit, and he may know a good source; or he may have something to offer.
 

DCBluesman

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And please share what info you gather, Bruce. I'm looking at custom nibs, even if it means doing my own tap and die work. Mike_O (Mike O'Brien) can probably help. He collects and repairs fountain pens.
 

woodscavenger

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I think you should keep a clip on it. It's much like the gentlemen pens that have the tapered back end that will not accept the cap. But people will still want to carry it in a pocket.

BTW I am also interested in what people find out about better nibs. I agree, that is what keeps us out of the pricier market.
 

C. Scott

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I'm speechless. Thanks for sharing Bruce! I have to agree, that's a $1k pen if I ever saw one. Think about it, one of a kind, hand made (not cranked out of a factory), not to mention beautiful! Did I say I was speechless, well I guess I found some words. [:)]
 

J. Fred Muggs

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What can I say that has not already been said?? The pen is absolutely <h1><b>MAGNIFICENT !!!</b></h1>
I am not too far away in upstate South Carolina and would be happy to serve as your beta test site for pens of this style.[:D][:D][:D]
 

woodscavenger

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The new one should be an eye opener???? Bruce if that first one didn't do it for us then I don't know what it would take to get everyones attention. Looking forward to it......
 

PenWorks

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Sorry I missed all the excitement [:)] This was posted while I was in LA at the Pen show. I wish I would have had your pen there to SELL, we both could have made some money [:D]

I have read all the posts, and nothing more to be said, except to add my kudos for a wonderfull design and workmanship, a stellar performance [;)] A great addition to the Pen Makers Guild Masterpieces. [:I]

Anthony
 

rtgleck

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As all the others have said that is a truley fantastic looking pen and is going to make someone a very happy owner. Whether that be your self or if you decide to sell it. Truley a great looking pen.
 

Tropical

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Wow. Absolutely fantastic. Can't help you on the price but whatever you decide it will worth every penny.
 
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