Well I tried..

Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad
Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
6,729
Location
Tunica, MS,
When I started, I had already had some years experience in woodworking and finishing, but that didn't help that much in the tiny area of making a pen. I made my first three or four, then cut a piece of a 2X4 pine into about 10 to 15 blanks and made a day of learning to drill small pieces of wood, gluing tubes in, turning them down and then learning to finish. I was not trying to make a pen, but rather getting the feel of each part.

At that time, I had drilled holes in wood for nearly 60 years in making things, but drilling holes lengthwise in 3/4 by 3/4 by 2 inch blanks was quite different. Drilling in 3/4 by 3/4 can make one that thin blow out or go sideways. Turning a pen blank to size that is only 3/4 inch is quite different than turning a 4" to 8" square or round wood. Very little room for error plus the speed (RPM) for 3/4" blanks is different from turning bowls or vases. THEN getting the pen blank to the correct size is another thing. Learning how how much to turn and how much to sand with what grit. One error is getting it down to size with a 120 grit and then trying to sand the 120 scratches out with 220 up to 400 and you have sanded it way down past the bushings.:eek: DAKHIKT!

Add to that the fact that one has purchased a nice piece of wood that makes it scary that you are about to waste, . . . the best thing to do is cut some 2x4 pine and practice for a few hours. Then with getting that experience of just 5 or 10 practice blanks, you would be surprised how much you have learned and progressed!

One suggestion will be to get a set of calipers and learn from the beginning to measure the size of your blanks as you turn. Bushings will shrink as you hit it with the chisel or sand paper. Measure the nib end, the center band and the clip end and turn the blank to fit that, not to the size of the bushings. This will make for much better fittings.
 
Last edited:

Charlie_W

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2011
Messages
5,188
Location
Sterling, VA USA
You can also simply drill your wood blanks with a 1/4” bit and mount on the mandrel without a tube for practice turning.
If you can get ahold of some hardwood, turn that too. You can even use pallet wood if you can get one.

Good luck!

Edit: many times, Home Depot, Lowe’s or Lumber yards have a scrap bin. You might get some hardwoods for only a buck or so. Also check a cabinet shop or flooring company.
 
Last edited:

griffin

Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2018
Messages
16
Location
Alabama
I have plenty of “practice” wood.. I just need to get a drill press, or something. The hole was bad and it caused some issues with the tube, and then I crushed a transmission pushing it in.. I bought some dollar pen kits so I wouldn’t feel bad about the screw ups. I wish I had someone close to kind of show me some things.. I know I will get better. It is a hobby, not trying to make money from this..


Sent from my iPhone using Penturners.org mobile app
 

Dale Allen

Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
1,253
Location
Akron, OH
Keep at it and you will succeed.
It is unfortunate that you are having issues but they are learning tools.
And, for give me for saying so, but in a way it is refreshing to see this post as opposed to the one where the OP says 'look at my first pen' and it is nearly perfect!:rolleyes:
 

bsshog40

Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
656
Location
Midland, Tx
I think most our first ones are always the learning ones. When I did my first pen, I had a couple youtube videos lined up that I would watch while turning. With pauses of course. Just to watch how fast the lathe was going, roughing, shaping, sanding etc.... I would do a little turning and go back and watch each step of the specific video I had up. It really helped a lot.
 

Charlie_W

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2011
Messages
5,188
Location
Sterling, VA USA
We don’t know what part of ‘Bama you are located. You can click on the member map at the top of the page and see where other turners are in the state. There are probably more but you need to give your zip code to get added to the member map.
Also, if you are close enough, there is a Woodcraft in Birmingham/Pelham. They can help you as well.
You will find plenty of info here in the Library too.
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
6,729
Location
Tunica, MS,
I have plenty of “practice” wood.. I just need to get a drill press, or something.
This may be a little advanced for you but it is not that difficult. Many people drill the holes on the lathe. Do you have a 4 jaw chuck? And adding a drill chuck to the tail stock and you will be able to do what it will take a $150 - $200+ drill press to do.

With a bit of practice, perfect holes can be made this way.

BTW, thanks for posting. Lots of people here willing to help.
 

KenB259

Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2017
Messages
199
Location
Michigan
Since you said you bought some dollar pen kits, I’m assuming those are slimlines. They are usually marketed as great for beginners. My opinion, they are one of the more difficult to do. I would suggest you get a few Sierra kits. They are much easier to turn, single barrel and extremely easy to assemble. Also, I always buy extra tubes, if push comes to shove during the process, you can just start over, only being out the pen blank. As far as drilling the holes, everyone has their own method they prefer. If the blank is square, I use the lathe to drill, if it’s not square, then I use my drill press. Keep at it, you’ll get it.


Sent from my iPhone using Penturners.org mobile app
 

brailsmt

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2018
Messages
102
Location
Kansas City, MO, USA
I'm pretty new to this, been turning pens only for about a month. I highly recommend a 4 jaw chuck with pen jaws. I do everything on the lathe and use the chuck for cutting, drilling, barrel reaming, etc... Stick with it, you will improve. Relax and enjoy the process. You have years to perfect this hobby, no need to be perfect from the get go.
 

jttheclockman

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
12,342
Location
NJ, USA.
Today there are so many videos on utube and also Ed from Exotic blanks has a whole series of videos for just about every aspect of pen turning. Check out his site here under vendors forum. You learn so much more from watching and hands on then reading. hey kids do this stuff so it is not hard. keep at it and the suggestion about doing sierra kits instead of slimlines is a very good one. Also get a bunch of extra tubes. They are cheap and you can save kits this way. Happy turning.:):)
 

Chief TomaToe

Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Messages
187
Location
Bloomington, Indiana
I still have moments where something doesn't work out and it can be particularly crushing. It usually happens somewhere near the end of a step when it looks like I'm home free... When you finally make a pen that you can be proud of, it really fuels that desire to get to the next one. I suppose that's why we here at the IAP refer to pen turning as an addiction! Anyways, I liken pen turning to golf. I'm absolutely terrible at it, but every now and then you get that one good swing that gives you just enough pleasure to come back for more.
 

Woodchipper

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
2,522
Location
Cleveland, TN
I had to overcome the concern the lathe would grab my gouge out of my hand and beat me with it.
I have that fear if I think of asking SWMBO for another tool.
I am always learning and try to learn from goofs/mistakes/misjudgement/stupidity/failure to carefully read instructions on pen assembly.
 
Top Bottom