Wood Lathe for Bespoke Pen Making

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BryanMurphy

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Jun 15, 2020
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Michigan, US
I recently purchased a new Jet JWL-1221VS wood lathe. I love the lathe and it's made pen making so much more enjoyable. I invested a bit of money into this lathe and believe it's been worth it. At the time I bought it I was turning only kit pens, and have since become obsessed with bespoke (kitless) pen making.

Everyone seems to agree that a metal lathe is the best for bespoke pen making but I haven't seen anyone explain why they feel this way.

I can absolutely see why a cross feed/cariage slide could be useful and am working on putting one together for use with my Jet.

Are there any other reasons that may trip me up later in my bespoke pen making journey?
 
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magpens

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Feb 2, 2011
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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
1) One other thing you get with a metal working lathe is the larger bore diameter and insertion depth through the headstock chuck.
I find this extremely important for drilling blanks, as well as for squaring the ends of blanks.

2) Calibrated tailstock advance.

3) Horizontal feedscrew - for thread cutting and other things.

When you are making the cross feed/carriage slide for your Jet don't forget the calibrated adjustment wheels, plus rack and pinion for the controlled horizontal motion and fixing of the carriage.
And be sure to provide for mounting a quick-change toolpost.
 
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Jontello

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Feb 4, 2015
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339
Location
Bologna, Italy
A metal lathe supposedly does make some things easier but if all you have is the jet 1221 then you can also make all your bespoke pens on that. The only thing you will be limited in is is making your own metal scent rings and bands. 99 percent of all my pens are kitless and all I have is the jet 1221 for everything I do To make these. Here are a few of my pens. I would say start with what you have and go from their. once you have exhausted what you can do on your wood lathe for kitless pens then add the metal lathe.

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mark james

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Sep 6, 2012
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Medina, Ohio
A metal lathe supposedly does make some things easier but if all you have is the jet 1221 then you can also make all your bespoke pens on that. The only thing you will be limited in is is making your own metal scent rings and bands. 99 percent of all my pens are kitless and all I have is the jet 1221 for everything I do To make these. Here are a few of my pens. I would say start with what you have and go from their. once you have exhausted what you can do on your wood lathe for kitless pens then add the metal lathe.

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Awesome pens Jon! Very, very nice. 👍 👍. The term Bespoke Pens has been around for several years now, and really does not reflect much on the lathe used but the marketing terminology - this is not new. However, I love your Bespoke Pens!
 
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jttheclockman

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Feb 22, 2005
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NJ, USA.
And now I see why the thread about the Bespoke Pen Vick started.. Who in the world said a Bespoke pen is a kitless pen. Not correct at all. Another word that is mumbled jumbled as there are so many being thrown around with this stupid protests these days. Words and phrases made up along with the NEW NORM now adays because of the virus. My rant I am done.

You want to make kitless pens say that. No you do not need a metal lathe to make kitless pens. A wood lathe will do just fine.
 

jalbert

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May 17, 2015
Messages
534
Location
Louisville, KY
You can absolutely use a wood lathe for kitless penmaking. I don’t, however, because I do a lot of operations like cutting odd dimensioned threads, Making precision bores, and building piston/other filling mechanism components. It’s just a matter of what your goals are, and what you are happy making.
 

Jarod888

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Joined
Mar 11, 2012
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147
Location
Brighton, Colorado
I do all my kitless pen turning on a jet 1221. It works very well. The number one accessory you need to add is a collet chuck. A sliding die holder comes in a close second.

I actually tried setting up a hardinge compound slide on my oneway 1224. It "worked", but it left a lot to be desired.

Stick with your jet. At some point in the future pick up a metal lathe. Most importantly, have fun!
 

MythicPens

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Joined
Jul 24, 2019
Messages
4
Location
Georgia
I use a metal lathe for all my pens to a point. They’re great if you’re looking for super accurate cuts. I do all my drilling and tapping on it. I started out with a Little Machine Shop 5200 (Seig) and found that it won’t keep up with production. I’m picking up a Weiss 30” bed model and I think it will be able to keep up a lot better. There are a lot of advantages with the metal lathe, especially, like jalbert mentioned, odd cuts, different diameters and threading.

All that being said, I can’t do without my wood lathe for shaping. I used a tool rest that dropped into the tool holder of my metal lathe for a long time and it was terrible. Too far from the work, tool chatter everywhere. Wasn’t made for that.

I picked up a Rikon Midi and I haven’t looked back. Makes the shaping and other operations where a hand tool is necessary so much easier.

Some guys are making amazing pens just using the wood lathes, some use a combination like I do. It’s all a matter of personal likes and dislikes.

I’d also take into account the cost vs how many pens you intend to produce. The sieg metal lathes are not cut out to do a on of work. I’ve made just over 250 pens on mine and it’s about to bite the dust. The main reason I’m stepping up to a much bigger, more robust Weiss.


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