Newbie question

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TexasRN

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Nov 5, 2018
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Killeen, TX
I just started turning the weekend. I'm hooked!! One (of several) issues that I'm having is that after assembly, I can feel a ridge between the blanks and the center ring of my slimline pens.

I purchased the kits from Woodcraft. (I need to find a quality source that is cheaper than Woodcraft, if anyone wants to put there two cents in.)

I left the wood slightly proud and then sanded until there was a perfect match to the bushings. It's not horrible, but I am trying to get a professional looking pen and this is driving me crazy.

Any suggestions? Bad kits? Don't trust bushings?
 
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bsshog40

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Oct 2, 2018
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Midland, Tx
I am far from an expert but if you are using new bushings, and you are sanding all the way even with the bushings, just a couple questions;
Are you using 7mm as they are for slimlines?
What type of finish are you using? (maybe going on too thick?)

That's all I can think of right now.
 

TexasRN

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Nov 5, 2018
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Location
Killeen, TX
I purchased a slimline beginners kit that had 7mm bushings and the mandrel I purchased also had 7mm bushings. As of the moment, that's the only size I own.
 

CREID

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Jul 23, 2008
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Vancouver, wa
When I first was learning to turn pens (and this is not a practice I do now since I have gotten a lot better) someone told me that after I finished turning and took it off the mandrel to sand the ends on an angle a little so that you don't have that problem. Just take the blank and rotate it on an angle and take a LITTLE off.:)
 

cdwrrtx

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Jul 30, 2018
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Location
Round Rock, TX
I've only been turning since May. One thing I learned real quick is to check your kit component size and not completely trust your bushings to match. There can be variances between them. Especially on cheaper kits like slimline. Get a set of digital calipers and check. If you miss the size a bit, smaller seems to be a more forgiving feel and look.
 

ed4copies

Local Chapter Manager
Joined
Mar 25, 2005
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23,677
Location
Racine, WI, USA.
A slimline is not very forgiving!! Especially if they have the straight centerband. There is a different design with a beaded centerband that allows far more room, so your diameter is not so critical.


If you are trying to match the straight centerband, get a caliper (Harbor Freight has them on sale for $9.99 regularly--digital) and measure the exact size of the centerband, then set the caliper and turn down until you are "perfect". Bushings will be very unlikely to get you there!


Easier solution, do a few simpler pens--single barrel "sierra-style". MANY choices from all the majors --PSI, Berea, CSUSA and all available at ExoticBlanks. Good luck and enjoy the journey!!


Ed
 

TexasRN

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Nov 5, 2018
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Location
Killeen, TX
Great information. I already own the calipers, I just assumed that I could rely on the bushings for sizing. Guess I'll start measuring.
 

jttheclockman

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Feb 22, 2005
Messages
12,486
Location
NJ, USA.
never trust any bushings. To become a complete pen turner you have to hone your fit and finish as well as matching blanks to kits and and the whole nine yards and this comes with time.Slimlines have been the beginners choice of pen kits for years and have no idea where or why that started. I know you can buy the kits for less money and that maybe an attraction but for a beginner a one piece kit like a sierra kit is by far an easier kit to learn on and the return money wise can be greater than $15 slimlines. You also have to take in account the amount of finish you apply when calculating for matching components so if you use a film finish such as lacquer, poly, CA or any other heavy coat finish this needs to be added for a great fit. You will get better with the more kits you do and highly suggest try a Sierra line and use the bushings for guidance only. Good luck.:):)
 

leehljp

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Tunica, MS,
Great information. I already own the calipers, I just assumed that I could rely on the bushings for sizing. Guess I'll start measuring.
I've Been turning pens for almost 14 years. One of the first things I was taught on this forum was to consider bushings as consumables. Each time sandpaper touches the bushings, or the chisel knicks the edge of the bushings, you decrease the size a minuscule amount. After two dozen sanding or Knicks, you have decreased it in size by .01 or more.

IF you do measurements by calipers, it doesn't matter that the bushings decrease in size because you are not sizing according to them, but rather in relation to the actual size of the center band (CB) , nib end and clip end.

A tip, I have a set of cards set up with the measurements of each and pull that card out and set it next to my lathe. On occasion, I will find a CB or nib end to be approximately .005 smaller or larger than normal and make adjustments. But to have the reference handy as I check is convenient.

You are right to get the feel. To some people, it is not a big deal but to others, the precise transition feel is a make or break deal whether they buy or not. Perfect fit and transition is where professionalism shows.
 
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Dehn0045

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Mar 19, 2017
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Houston, Texas
IMHO calipers are a must-have for getting a perfect fit. Also, you can do good fits with bushings and a mandrel, but you will probably get frustrated by out-of-round at some point. Turning between centers (TBC) is often recommended as a way to improve fit (http://content.penturners.org/library/techniques/turn_between_centers.pdf). I personally TBC without bushings and use digital calipers, I measure parts and also check the bushing charts as a double-check. One nice thing is never worrying about having the right bushings.

As for kits, I like the Berea Hardwoods Slimline. I've done a lot of PSI's funline 7mm, they are cheap and good for practice but I won't do them anymore. Beyond slimlines there are loads of other kits to try, here are some that I like:

Rollester (PSI, budget friendly easy to make rollerball)
Bolt Action (PSI, crowd pleaser and easy easy easy)
Stratus (PSI, not a bad click)
Triton and Baron (Berea, mid range capped rollerball)
Zen (CSUSA, good quality easy to make rollerball, worth the price)
Ellipse (and other styles by Exotic Blanks, decent quality and budget friendly)
Le Roi (by Smitty's Pen Works sold by Exotic Blanks, decent quality and budget friendly)

Some online vendors only sell their own kits (PSI and Berea being two), others sell a variety (Exotic Blanks and Woodturningz being two). There are many different vendors, I really haven't had a bad experience with any or the 5 or so that I've ordered from. Almost all do volume discounts and many have coupons and other sales frequently, load up when the price is right.
 

mecompco

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Apr 24, 2015
Messages
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Fairfield, Maine
Don't forget the thickness of your finish, if you're looking for perfection. If the fit is "perfect" after turning, it may no longer be after a few layers of finish are applied. As mentioned, "Slims" are a challenge to get "perfect". The good news is that once you've learned to make a nice Slim, most other pens are easier.
 

Shock me

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Dec 5, 2010
Messages
158
Location
Boerne, TX
When I was turning a lot of Sierras, I made myself a small gauge out of acrylic sheet- on one end is a semicircle with a diameter matching the kit hardware. The other end is a semicircle cut with a diameter of .55" because I like Sierras to have a bit of bulge in the middle. as I get close, I stop the lathe and test against the gauge. as others have mentioned, sometimes there is some variation between kits, so I habitually test my gauge against the hardware, but so long as I stay with a single supplier, I've never had an issue
 

TexasRN

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Nov 5, 2018
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Location
Killeen, TX
Wow....just logged on from work and already I have a ton of great information! It is ever so nice to be in a forum that willingly passes on information and treats a new guy so well.

I can tell that I am going to love this place!

Thanks everyone!
 

TexasRN

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Nov 5, 2018
Messages
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Location
Killeen, TX
Where does one find coupons from the vendors? I'm trying to place a stocking order to build up an inventory and any pricing help is appreciated.
 

gtriever

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Apr 23, 2017
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Paducah, Kentucky
If you subscribe to vendors' mailing lists, a lot of times they'll give you a discount coupon to be used. A few will "mix and match" to give you quantity pricing spread out over different models of pens. Bear Tooth Woods and Exotic Blanks are the first two of those that pop into my mind.
 

Dehn0045

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Mar 19, 2017
Messages
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Location
Houston, Texas
PSI often sends out emails with 10% off, basically every holiday. They also send some 20%, but you might get a couple of those a year. You used to be able to "share" coupon codes, but I think they have improved their algorithm to make sure that the coupon is only used by the account the email was sent to (not sure to what extent this applies).

Berea Hardwoods will discount specific styles and will do free shipping (I think orders over $100 are free shipping, but this may have changed).

Exotic Blanks does a weekly email with sales. Also the volume discount applies across styles (nice for low-volume variety guys like me)

IAP group buys are a good way to get a discount as well. There are somewhat routine group buys for both CSUSA and Exotic Blanks, the rules and processes are slightly different for each, but basically the group qualifies for high volume discounts.
 
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