Using Nova "Pen Plus" Chuck Jaws for Squaring Pen Blanks?

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penicillin

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Feb 27, 2019
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Nova makes four-jaw chucks. Nova also sells Pen Plus jaws. I have a Nova G3 chuck and the Pen Plus jaws. The Pen Plus jaws make drilling a pen blank on the lathe very easy. After drilling on the lathe, I use a common six-blade pen mill with an interchangeable reamer to square my blanks on the drill press.

In the product description, Nova says, [Pen Plus Jaws are] "Also perfect for squaring up the pen blank ends after gluing in the tubes."

Here are my questions:
->
Is anybody using the Pen Plus jaws to square blanks?
-> How do you do that?
-> How do you make sure that the blank is square and flush with the tube inside?

Product Links:
G3 Chuck: https://www.teknatool.com/product/nova-g3-woodturning-chuck-18-reversible/
(Note: My G3 chuck came in a bundle with several jaws and a case)
Pen Plus Jaws: https://www.teknatool.com/product/nova-pen-plus-jaws/

Off Topic, but related:
Nova just released a special pen turning chuck bundle, which includes a G3 chuck, the Pen Plus Jaws, a mandrel saver, and more:
https://www.teknatool.com/product/nova-g3-pen-turning-chuck-bundle-direct-thread-1-x-8tpi-sku-48265/
That bundle is currently on sale at Rockler:
https://www.rockler.com/nova-g3-chuck-pen-turning-bundle-1-x-8-tpi
 
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I use the pen jaws for drilling, then use a drill press and a Woodpeckers Pen Mill to square the blank after the tube is inserted and CA Glue is dry. I have also used the pen mill on the lathe, but seems to save time to use the drill press.
 

penicillin

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Well, duh. I should have thought of it myself. I drill pen blanks on the lathe, but I use the drill press with a common pen mill to square up my blanks.

I didn't think of using the pen mill the pen mill in the Jacobs chuck on the lathe. I am not sure it would work as well as the drill press, but I will give it a try. The advantage of the drill press is the spring return that lets you apply a little pressure on the pen mill, then release the drill press lever to check progress. With a lathe, pressing and backing off may not be as easy. I will try it next time.

I will try squaring a blank with the parting tool, too.

In both cases, you must reverse the blank in the pen jaws to square the "other" end. I wonder whether the tube will still be squared up after reversing the pen blank. If not, it might bend the reamer part of the pen mill, or just not be square. I will give both methods a try to see for myself.

Thanks to everyone for their responses.
 

PenPal

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You use these jaws to hold the blank to drill for the brass. Glued in and the turned to round you can then regrip in those same jaws and square cut the ends. Squaring the ends IMHO is always best done other ways.

If you send me a pm and your e mail and I will phone you and discuss this and by sending you pics of my methods you will be able to follow these on a phone call. Since you do not say where you live etc you may be hard to help.

Kind regards Peter.,
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FGarbrecht

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If you square off on the lathe with a chuck then the ends will be square to the sides of the blank but not necessarily square to the tube if the drilled hole isn't parallel to the sides of the blank. I use a sanding disk on the lathe to square the ends. I put a transfer punch that matches the size of the tube in the jacobs chuck in the tailstock and bring it up lightly to the sanding disk. That way the squaring is done relative to the tube.
 

penicillin

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Thanks to @PenPal and @FGarbrecht for their additional comments.

I am in California. While I appreciate the offer of a phone call, I am doing well enough with a standard pen mill and a drill press. Someday when I have the time, I will build a lathe sanding/pen milling jig that uses the transfer punches for alignment.

FGarbrecht's point about the drilled hole being square to the blank is exactly the point I was trying to make. If you leave the blank attached to the Pen Plus jaws after drilling, the mill should be square, too. Then you have to flip the blank around to mill the other side, and there is no assurance that the drill hole stays aligned and square to the mill. You might use the pen mill's long reamer to square the blank as you clamp the Pen Plus jaws on it, but that might lead to bending or breakage.

In the meantime, I will give it a try on the lathe (standard mill and also parting tool), just to see what happens, but I anticipate that I will go back to the drill press for milling after the experiments are done. We'll see.

P.S. Great pens and photos, by the way. Thank you for sharing them!
 
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wouldentu2?

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Oak Creek WI
You use these jaws to hold the blank to drill for the brass. Glued in and the turned to round you can then regrip in those same jaws and square cut the ends. Squaring the ends IMHO is always best done other ways.

If you send me a pm and your e mail and I will phone you and discuss this and by sending you pics of my methods you will be able to follow these on a phone call. Since you do not say where you live etc you may be hard to help.

Kind regards Peter.,View attachment 227727View attachment 227728View attachment 227728View attachment 227728
I'm sorry, but after I saw these photos I lost all interest in what this thread was about.
 

WriteON

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Lake Worth,Fl. / BlueBell, Pa.
I wonder whether the tube will still be squared up after reversing the pen blank. If not, it might bend the reamer part of the pen mill, or just not be square. I will give both methods a try to see for myself.

Thanks to everyone for their responses.
after mounted for squaring advance the trimming barrel into blank and hand turn headstock to see how everything is situated. If the blank is rotating ok... proceed to square. If it’s hopping around reposition the blank in the pen jaws. Spin the blank 1 rotation and then recheck.
 

seaclanky

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Hi Penicillin.

I have one of those mini-chucks with a set of pen jaws. (four jaws). The method that I most often favour is to rough out the blank between centres so that it will fit nicely in the chuck.
One advantage for me to do it this way is that I can see the blank ends when punch - marking the hole for the centres. This means that I can make my segments align with dead centre.

Then drill on the lathe using a Jacobs Chuck. This should leave you concentric. Remove the blank and glue in your tube. Back into the lathe chuck and you can use a parting tool to face off the blank. I tend to use a half-round scraper to do this as I find it easy to stop removing stock when I just touch the tube end. Of course the flat faced end won't be absolutely flat in the way it would be if you were using the cross slide on a metalworking lathe. But honestly it will be good enough for Admiralty Work. If you not going to use a centre band from the pen kit you are able at this stage to leave a very ( very) slight "dish" in your faced end - the gap will be less obvious this way and it will be easier to sand off any cyano finish from the ends before final assembly.

If you're using a pen blank mill, bear in mind these are designed to work with the tube glued in to the blank; the guide mandrel will be sized appropriately to be a nice fit in the tube. If you use the mill before fitting a tube you may find the mill mandrel wanders a little.

At this stage your blanks will be ready for mounting on a mandrel - if you have one. If you don't have a mandrel or can't be bothered, just TBC.
I find that TBC works fine for me using 7mm kits, but the larger 10mm tubes bont fit my drive centre. In this case I mount a little scrap in the mini-chuck and turn a jam-chuck.

This may not be the fastest or easiest method, but - it works for me and I don't need to buy any extra kit. Although I wouldn't mind a nice bandsaw. . Having said that, the tolerances can build up if I'm not careful. The criteria that you should apply when developing your own method is "Does it work for me?"

Hope this helps you achieve a working solution with your own kit. Let us know how you get on.

felicitations from British West Hartlepool.
Seaclanky.
 

hbillings

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I use a jig on my disc sander along with the appropriately sized center punch to square my blanks relative to the tube. While the lathe give me the straightest drilling, the resulting hole may still be slightly off-center, especially for antler and cross-cut wood.
 

penicillin

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Based on the comments above, I realized that I would have to glue in the tube while the blank is still mounted in the Pen Plus jaws on the chuck, or risk losing the perfect alignment on the first side of the pen blank after drilling it. You already face that re-alignment issue when you have to turn the blank around to mill the other side. It may just work and not matter.

I will know when I try it. I don't make pens every day, so I will report back in this thread, once I find time to experiment. Be patient.
 

pshrynk

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I would think that if you use the pen mill and line up the glued blank before tightening the chuck, it would be straight on. This is not something I have thought about before, but must try it this weekend as i work on my Christmas List.
 

ebill

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magnolia tx
If you square off on the lathe with a chuck then the ends will be square to the sides of the blank but not necessarily square to the tube if the drilled hole isn't parallel to the sides of the blank. I use a sanding disk on the lathe to square the ends. I put a transfer punch that matches the size of the tube in the jacobs chuck in the tailstock and bring it up lightly to the sanding disk. That way the squaring is done relative to the tube.
- I adopted this method too after trying several others. It negates any catches or tear out you might get with an end mill and as noted is perpendicular to the tube not the blank.

- ebill
 

JimB

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I use a pen mill to square blanks but if for some reason that doesn’t get the job done then I use this. The small piece of wood screws directly onto the headstock or you could epoxy the appropriate size nut onto the wood. A Jacobs chuck and HF punch in the tail stock. Squares perfectly every time. The cost was $0 since I had the Jacobs and punches already. It is also great for cleaning up the ends of the blank after applying your finish.
 

MiteyF

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If you square off on the lathe with a chuck then the ends will be square to the sides of the blank but not necessarily square to the tube if the drilled hole isn't parallel to the sides of the blank. I use a sanding disk on the lathe to square the ends. I put a transfer punch that matches the size of the tube in the jacobs chuck in the tailstock and bring it up lightly to the sanding disk. That way the squaring is done relative to the tube.
I've found this to be an easy and accurate method.

 

dogcatcher

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I rarely used a 4 jaw chuck for pens. My pens were mostly made with wood blanks, I turned most blanks round to 3/4 or 5/8 diameter when I get them. That lets me see the grain so I sort according to a "value grade" system I created. When I got ready to use the blank, I would cut to approximate length, and used the collet chuck to hold it while drilling. Glued in the tube and later used the collet chuck to square off the ends, using either a sanding disk on the tail stock or a pen mill.
 
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