TBC Bushings: Using a caliper to reduce the number of bushing sets needed?

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RiffMasters

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Apr 18, 2020
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Getting ready to start pen making. Going the TBC route with carbide tips out of the gate. Question on TBC bushings. I get the point of stretching the brass without bushings, but I don’t want to buy dozens of sets if I can avoid it. So can I just get one set of bushings per tube size and turn using a digital caliper for the ends? In this scenario I would get the smallest bushing per tube size I could find. Being too cheap or issues with the approach?
 
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Dehn0045

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Short answer is yes (edit: it can be done, and No, its not being too cheap). I don't use any bushings at all for most of my pens. Knocking corners can be a little bit difficult without bushings, for this and other reasons I turn round prior to drilling. It takes a little more time, but its cheaper and you never have to worry about having or buying the right bushings. For higher volume production type turning TBC bushings are probably worth the expense. Keep tools sharp and minimize pressure. I suggest at least removing the bushings for the last 0.010 or 0.020" of turning, this should be done with really light cuts anyway and you should not have any problem getting enough friction with the dead center to turn (I finish without bushings too - dont have to worry about gluing the blank to the bushings). If you're a beginner at turning of any king, then I'd suggest starting with bushings - getting cuts with minimal pressure requires slightly more than beginner skill level (but you definitely don't need to be an expert -- I can do it ;) )
 
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magpens

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Fact is ..... You don't need any bushings at all. . . Here's an outline of the procedure. . Possibly leaving out some obvious steps.

Put a dimple in the center of each end of the blank. . Small, shallow drill hole at each dimple.

Dead center in the head-stock .... Live center in the tail-stock .... Your blank in between .

Pressure from the tail-stock will keep your blank spinning while you turn to round.

When the blank is round and about 0.7 inch in diameter, you put it in the headstock and drill it to receive the brass tube.

When the brass tube is in, you mount the blank again between centers and turn (and shape) down to the correct size.
Your dead and live centers now make contact with the brass tube ends (assuming you have trimmed the blank to length).

Here's when you need to keep checking the size of the blank with your calipers .... at several points along its length, paying special attention to the ends of the blank where it will meet the hardware (nib and finial). . At this stage you'll be taking off VERY light cuts and measuring often.

If you have any questions, please ask. . Happy to tell you all I know and many others will help also.

And ... Big warm welcome to IAP !!!! . You have come to the right place !!!
 

RiffMasters

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Apr 18, 2020
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Thanks all, have 2 classes this weekend at Woodcraft (spindles/bowl making), then will start with some practice blanks before getting to the tube part. Agree on the right place. The wisdom and content on this site are absolutely amazing.
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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Tunica, MS,
Here is a link to an article I wrote on turning a pen without using bushings. I hope it helps.
This article may be in the library here...not sure.
Do a good turn daily!
Don

Don, I don't know how I have missed your article. Great writeup and simply done. Sometimes, our descriptions (even with pictures) make it seem more complicated than it is. Thanks!
 

its_virgil

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Wichita Falls, TX, USA.
Don, I don't know how I have missed your article. Great writeup and simply done. Sometimes, our descriptions (even with pictures) make it seem more complicated than it is. Thanks!
Thanks Hank. I looked and could not find the article in the library which explains how your missed it. I need to get more of my articles placed in the library. I wrote a monthly article for More Woodturning Magazine (The Penturner's Corner) from Dec 2006 until April 2020. That's a lot of articles and a lot of information. Maybe some day. Thanks again.
Do a good turn daily!
Don
 

sorcerertd

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Sep 30, 2019
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North Carolina, USA
I'm about disgusted with bushings. It seems like there's one in every set that's out of round. I've started just putting them between centers one at a time and was shocked at how bad some of them were. I still use them sometimes when hand sanding so I don't round off the ends of the barrels when I'm sanding, polishing them (usually on the lathe, but with the lathe off)
 
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