Pen mandrel system

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michaelperez

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Aug 21, 2022
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Hello I’ve been looking for a basic set to start my pen turning but when I was about to buy one I realized that there are many option, I don’t know if you have any advise about what to buy or not buy and maybe some brands to look for.
thank you.
 
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sorcerertd

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It's good that you asked before spending money. Technically, you don't need a mandrel at all. Search TBC (turning between centers) for more information on that. This is my preference, but plenty of very skilled turners here do use a mandrel with amazing results. A good mandrel or collet chuck system can get pretty expensive. I bought these and have been happier with the results than with using a mandrel.

I started out with a mandrel & mandrel saver. This one is super easy to use. It seemed to work fine for me at the beginning. Now it collects dust. I also tried the standard one that you use a 60 degree live center with and adjust the length on the morse taper end (you can still use a mandrel saver with this one). Still wasn't completely happy. I now use that one to hold blanks for buffing. Any slight bend in a mandrel will cause your barrels to be slightly oval shaped so, if you go that route, you have to treat them with care.
 

michaelperez

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Aug 21, 2022
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Peru
Hello I’ve just read the article Tooling Needed to Make Pens by Dan Masshardt and it helped a lot for, that reason i didn’t went for the turning between centers because my lathe came with a 6 inch tool rest and yesterday I bought a 12 inch so i don’t think I’m going to buy a smaller one for now.
I totally agree in buying good quality tools. I just checked at Axminster this live center that looks very well made: https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...-live-revolving-centre-additional-tips-718221
but I don’t know if It can be adequate also for pen turning. Im thinking in using the mini faceplate accessory as a live saver (I’ll make a conical attachment with a hole) or it would be better to buy a specialized pen live center?
greetings
 

leehljp

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Oh boy. You asked an open ended question.

Here is a good read:

A good many people wish they had known earlier about TBC - Turning between centers and its simplicity.

As to mandrels: Whiteside is a very high quality and precision mandrel set but not painted or shined up. It is more expensive than most pen store bought mandrels but head and shoulders better. Also VERY high quality are the Woodpeckers mandrel set.
 

michaelperez

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Aug 21, 2022
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Peru
Oh boy. You asked an open ended question.

Here is a good read:

A good many people wish they had known earlier about TBC - Turning between centers and its simplicity.

As to mandrels: Whiteside is a very high quality and precision mandrel set but not painted or shined up. It is more expensive than most pen store bought mandrels but head and shoulders better. Also VERY high quality are the Woodpeckers mandrel set.
Thank you so much,
 

michaelperez

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Joined
Aug 21, 2022
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Location
Peru
Hello, I appreciate very much your answer and I’m here to learn and listening all your recommendations.
I’m lucky I haven’t buy anything yet (was just about to buy this https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...6445?queryID=5693302f88925a06b10b391f6552fb88
Please if the best way is turning between centers can you help me telling me what do I need to buy and where or what brand, and if my 6" tool rest is ok? or it’s better to invest in a smaller one?
 

michaelperez

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Joined
Aug 21, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Peru
Oh boy. You asked an open ended question.

Here is a good read:

A good many people wish they had known earlier about TBC - Turning between centers and its simplicity.

As to mandrels: Whiteside is a very high quality and precision mandrel set but not painted or shined up. It is more expensive than most pen store bought mandrels but head and shoulders better. Also VERY high quality are the Woodpeckers mandrel set.
Hello, I appreciate very much your answer and I'm here to learn and listening all your recommendations.
I'm lucky I haven't buy anything yet (was just about to buy this https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...6445?queryID=5693302f88925a06b10b391f6552fb88
Please if the best way is turning between centers can you help me telling me what do I need to buy and where or what brand, and if my 6" tool rest is ok? or it's better to invest in a smaller one?
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
8,853
Location
Tunica, Mississippi,
Hello, I appreciate very much your answer and I'm here to learn and listening all your recommendations.
I'm lucky I haven't buy anything yet (was just about to buy this https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...6445?queryID=5693302f88925a06b10b391f6552fb88
Please if the best way is turning between centers can you help me telling me what do I need to buy and where or what brand, and if my 6" tool rest is ok? or it's better to invest in a smaller one?
To be honest, some people DO prefer mandrels and do OK. The problem with mandrels, particularly with those new to the lathe - are the number of very minor things that can and do cause issues. Mandrels flex and get bent - so little that it is not noticed by the naked eye, but it causes out of round (or non-concentric) blanks. Mandrels flex just a tiny bit when too much tail stock pressure is applied. Mandrels flex when a chisel of choice is just a tiny bit dull, and the pen turner adds just a bit more pressure.

There are the Mandrel Savers, and some work well. These use mandrels but the mandrel slides - lengthens and shortens according to the need. The shorter the less vibration and flexing.

TBC - Turning Between Centers: It only allows one blank to be turned at once.
Here is a layout - a picture is worth a thousand words:
PICTURE With Mandrel which I personally rarely use:

IN the top two, you can see the blank on the lathe with a bushing on each end. On the bottom you can see the blank off the lathe and two sets of bushings. While it is difficult to see without knowing what to look for, one set of bushings is ordinary bushings and the other set of bushings have a cone shaped divot that fits perfectly with the head stock dead drive and tail stock live center. EITHER set of bushings work.

The process is to use the bushings on a blank until it is round and down to size (Use calipers to determine the size, not the bushings). Then take the bushings off for finishing. This works particularly well when finishing oily woods such as ebonies. Taking bushings off of ebony the woods after finishing with CA will often cause the CA to lift up off of the blank. Therefore, finishing is always easier without bushings, unless you use specialty nylon or other non stick bushings to use when finishing.

What is needed for TBC is a 60° live center for the tail stock and a 60° dead or drive center for the head stock and a set of bushings for the pen you are making. That is it.
 
Last edited:

michaelperez

Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Peru
To be honest, some people DO prefer mandrels and do OK. The problem with mandrels, particularly with those new to the lathe - are the number of very minor things that can and do cause issues. Mandrels flex and get bent - so little that it is not noticed by the naked eye, but it causes out of round (or non-concentric) blanks. Mandrels flex just a tiny bit when too much tail stock pressure is applied. Mandrels flex when a chisel of choice is just a tiny bit dull, and the pen turner adds just a bit more pressure.

There are the Mandrel Savers, and some work well. These use mandrels but the mandrel slides - lengthens and shortens according to the need. The shorter the less vibration and flexing.

TBC - Turning Between Centers: It only allows one blank to be turned at once.
Here is a layout - a picture is worth a thousand words:
PICTURE With Mandrel which I personally rarely use:

IN the top two, you can see the blank on the lathe with a bushing on each end. On the bottom you can see the blank off the lathe and two sets of bushings. While it is difficult to see without knowing what to look for, one set of bushings is ordinary bushings and the other set of bushings have a cone shaped divot that fits perfectly with the head stock dead drive and tail stock live center. EITHER set of bushings work.

The process is to use the bushings on a blank until it is round and down to size (Use calipers to determine the size, not the bushings). Then take the bushings off for finishing. This works particularly well when finishing oily woods such as ebonies. Taking bushings off of ebony the woods after finishing with CA will often cause the CA to lift up off of the blank. Therefore, finishing is always easier without bushings, unless you use specialty nylon or other non stick bushings to use when finishing.

What is needed for TBC is a 60° live center for the tail stock and a 60° dead or drive center for the head stock and a set of bushings for the pen you are making. That is it.
 

alanemorrison

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Jan 15, 2019
Messages
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N Ireland
Michael, I bought the compression mandrel from Axminster that you mentioned about 5 years ago and still am using it without any issues.
I also turn between centres. I don't have any great preference, just saying that the Axminster compression mandrel is a sound piece of equipment if that is what you want to know.

Alan
 

RunnerVince

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Joined
Dec 18, 2019
Messages
184
Location
Ogden, UT
Hello I’ve just read the article Tooling Needed to Make Pens by Dan Masshardt and it helped a lot for, that reason i didn’t went for the turning between centers because my lathe came with a 6 inch tool rest and yesterday I bought a 12 inch so i don’t think I’m going to buy a smaller one for now.
I totally agree in buying good quality tools. I just checked at Axminster this live center that looks very well made: https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...-live-revolving-centre-additional-tips-718221
but I don’t know if It can be adequate also for pen turning. Im thinking in using the mini faceplate accessory as a live saver (I’ll make a conical attachment with a hole) or it would be better to buy a specialized pen live center?
greetings
I wish I'd just bought the smaller toolrest and a TBC setup right from the get-go. First, it's SO NICE to have several toolrests for different projects. Second, my pens are so much better with TBC than they evern were with a mandrel.

If you want a good deal on toolrests, look up Rick Herrel here on the IAP. He sells a toolpost that works with all his toolrests, so you can order one post and several rests for a very reasonable price. I got one post with 4", 6" and 12" rests to complement the 8" rest that came with my lathe.

This is, unfortunately, not a cheap hobby (there really is no such thing), but it's worth the little bit of extra in this case to go straight to the TBC setup, in my opinion, and it's not that much more expensive. If you're just getting into turning in general, I'd suggest your next investment be some sort of sharpening system. That could be a grinder with a wolverine varigrind or a Tormek system or a oneway system...anything that will make it so sharpening doesn't take more than 30 seconds so that you don't put it off and ruin projects with dull tools.
 

michaelperez

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Joined
Aug 21, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Peru
Thank you so much, I really appreciate your time and help. If I go for TBC I’m going to buy this live center set that includes 60° (https://www.axminstertools.com/us/axminster-multi-head-centre-with-3-tips-2mt-340186). Then i don’t know where to buy a dead center or maybe just choose one from Amazon or woodturnerscatalog and then when I was checking the bushing I was so confused don’t know which one to choose. I’m buying some kits at woodturnescatalog some are apprentice and others artisan slimline, roadster,classical and Gentlemen's II and there are different types.
I also saw this system at Axminster https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...6445?queryID=3a17043dbae52ae29234ad7baa0fd50c
What is your opinion, and do you have a tip for choosing the bushings because I can’t find the measures of the inside and outside diameters just names and part numbers. I’m really very confused.
Thanks so much again for your help because I have to import everything and don’t want to miss anything or buy things that do not match or aren’t useful.
 

RunnerVince

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Joined
Dec 18, 2019
Messages
184
Location
Ogden, UT
Thank you so much, I really appreciate your time and help. If I go for TBC I’m going to buy this live center set that includes 60° (https://www.axminstertools.com/us/axminster-multi-head-centre-with-3-tips-2mt-340186). Then i don’t know where to buy a dead center or maybe just choose one from Amazon or woodturnerscatalog and then when I was checking the bushing I was so confused don’t know which one to choose. I’m buying some kits at woodturnescatalog some are apprentice and others artisan slimline, roadster,classical and Gentlemen's II and there are different types.
I also saw this system at Axminster https://www.axminstertools.com/us/a...6445?queryID=3a17043dbae52ae29234ad7baa0fd50c
What is your opinion, and do you have a tip for choosing the bushings because I can’t find the measures of the inside and outside diameters just names and part numbers. I’m really very confused.
Thanks so much again for your help because I have to import everything and don’t want to miss anything or buy things that do not match or aren’t useful.
You technically don't need the bushings. They are nice to have for getting close to final dimension if you also have a mandrel, but you'll get your best results using calipers and measuring right off the mating pen hardware for the final TBC turning.

If you use bushings, you basically need a set for every type of kit you buy (slimline, roadster, classical, etc.). They tend to run around $5 a set. What's more, barring the slimlines, kits that look similar from different vendors might have slightly different measurements, so you'll want to either buy from a single vendor or get the bushings from each vendor your order from.

When ordering from woodturnerscatalog, I suggest getting a small number of Apprentice kits to practice on and then upgrading to the Artisan kits. They're higher quality for not that much more money. Many of their kits come in both Apprentice and Artisan. Luckily, for this particular vendor, the matching Apprentice/Artisan kits use the same bushings.

As for Axminster tools, I can only say that I've heard good things. For my dead center, I think I ended up ordering off Amazon for like $10. I'd originally ordered a higher quality one, but a month out it still hadn't shipped, so I went cheap. Can't say I have any issues with my cheap one, but maybe it's a case of not knowing what I'm missing--who knows.
 

michaelperez

Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Peru
Michael, I bought the compression mandrel from Axminster that you mentioned about 5 years ago and still am using it without any issues.
I also turn between centres. I don't have any great preference, just saying that the Axminster compression mandrel is a sound piece of equipment if that is what you want to know.

Alan
Thank you for the feedback It was really helpfu.
 

michaelperez

Member
Joined
Aug 21, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Peru
I wish I'd just bought the smaller toolrest and a TBC setup right from the get-go. First, it's SO NICE to have several toolrests for different projects. Second, my pens are so much better with TBC than they evern were with a mandrel.

If you want a good deal on toolrests, look up Rick Herrel here on the IAP. He sells a toolpost that works with all his toolrests, so you can order one post and several rests for a very reasonable price. I got one post with 4", 6" and 12" rests to complement the 8" rest that came with my lathe.

This is, unfortunately, not a cheap hobby (there really is no such thing), but it's worth the little bit of extra in this case to go straight to the TBC setup, in my opinion, and it's not that much more expensive. If you're just getting into turning in general, I'd suggest your next investment be some sort of sharpening system. That could be a grinder with a wolverine varigrind or a Tormek system or a oneway system...anything that will make it so sharpening doesn't take more than 30 seconds so that you don't put it off and ruin projects with dull tools.
Hello, thank you so much for all the advices and finally I decided to go go for TBC.
I can’t agree more with you , sharpening is involved in general woodworking "no sharp tools no party", at this point we already bought the Wolverine sharpening system with the Vari grind attachment.
Now our dilemma is which grinding wheel should we buy we don’t have more information and experience with grinding wheels and in Peru there aren’t many options.
We have a regular old fashion grinder 1/2 HP 3,450 RPM, that has 3/4" black wheels (doesn’t have any specification) and 5/8 shaft. Is very difficult for us to take a decision because of the lack of knowledge islike a bet.
Our options are:
In Peru Makita white stone Aluminium oxide 60 grit $23
Axminster 180 grit CBN wheel in the door of my house around $180 to $190
i know CBN is a better option but I’d like to know if it is really a MUST or not so necessary and it’s more like a luxury.
We thought going for the Makita also because we couldn’t find information and feedback about the Axminster CBN wheel. So please your experience and advice are welcome and it’s going to help us a lot.
 
Last edited:

RunnerVince

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Joined
Dec 18, 2019
Messages
184
Location
Ogden, UT
Hello, thank you so much for all the advices and finally I decided to go go for TBC.
I can’t agree more with you , sharpening is involved in general woodworking "no sharp tools no party", at this point we already bought the Wolverine sharpening system with the Vari grind attachment.
Now our dilemma is which grinding wheel should we buy we don’t have more information and experience with grinding wheels and in Peru there aren’t many options.
We have a regular old fashion grinder 1/2 HP 3,450 RPM, that has 3/4" black wheels (doesn’t have any specification) and 5/8 shaft. Is very difficult for us to take a decision because of the lack of knowledge islike a bet.
Our options are:
In Peru Makita white stone Aluminium oxide 60 grit $23
Axminster 180 grit CBN wheel in the door of my house around $180 to $190
i know CBN is a better option but I’d like to know if it is really a MUST or not so necessary and it’s more like a luxury.
We thought going for the Makita also because we couldn’t find information and feedback about the Axminster CBN wheel. So please your experience and advice are welcome and it’s going to help us a lot.
CBN is definitely a nice-to-have, but if your options are between a 60 grit Aluminum oxide wheel and a 180 grit CBN, you'll want to go with the CBN. 60-grit anything will eat your tools at a ridiculous pace, especially if you can't slow your RPMs down.
 

michaelperez

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Joined
Aug 21, 2022
Messages
30
Location
Peru
CBN is definitely a nice-to-have, but if your options are between a 60 grit Aluminum oxide wheel and a 180 grit CBN, you'll want to go with the CBN., especially if you can't slow your RPMs down.
Thank you so much for you advice and do you have any feedback for Axminster CBN wheels?
 

michaelperez

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Aug 21, 2022
Messages
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Location
Peru
CBN are for HSS tools, not carbide. But it will sharpen HSS without destroying the temper as aluminum oxide "can" at the same speed.

2 links for CBN related threads:
http://www.penturners.org/forum/f30/cbn-wheel-question-s-147589/

https://www.penturners.org/threads/cbn-wheels-for-grinder.155103/
Hello, thank you so much, I finally decided to go for TBC , so im not going to buy the compressor system instead of it I just ordered today a 1" post with a 4" and 12" tool rest rom Rick Herrel. Now Im looking for the live and dead center what do you think about the taytool live center
and the Shars dead center (i don’t know if Rick also can make the dead center just saw a straight one and I don’t know how to specify the requirement for the dead center )

Thank you again for everything your are advising me ( if I go for the Axminster CBN wheel I’ll also buy there the Axminster live center set ) we are happy and more confidence in our buying.
 
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