Lathe Speed: Turning Pens

Nov 23, 2013 by

I wondered what the correct lathe speed was for turning pens for YEARS before I found all of the right answers. The optimal lathe speed for turning pens varies throughout the different stages of the process. No need for you to go digging – I’ll write out everything I’ve pulled together and tested over the past few years in this post.   Lathe Speed for Drilling Pen Blanks – Low Obviously this section ONLY APPLIES if you drill your pen blanks on your lathe. If you drill them using a drill press, feel free to skip over this section. If you drill your pen blanks using a chuck on your mini lathe, it’s best to use a pretty slow speed. For me, that’s the lowest speed on my 5-speed lathe – 750 RPM, but...

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How to Sharpen Lathe Tools

Nov 16, 2013 by

Knowing how to sharpen lathe tools is probably the single most important thing any pen turning or woodturning hobbyist should obsess over. Scarily sharp tools will result in less broken pens, fewer cracks, and overall pen perfection. Regardless of whether you’re pen turning or turning anything else, the process for sharpening woodturning tools remains the same. This is everything you’ll need: -Your lathe tools -Safety glasses -A sharpening jig (explained below) -Some thick gloves -A bench grinder   The Sharpening Jig It doesn’t need to be fancy or pretty, it just needs to be functional. This is extraordinarily important for sharpening your tools properly – DO NOT SKIMP HERE. I didn’t use one for years and always had very, very disappointing results. The day I started using one is the day disappointing results went away....

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What is a CA Glue Finish?

Jun 4, 2013 by

The CA in “CA glue” stands for cyanoacrylate which is a family of rapidly curing adhesives. In pen turning, CA glue is what you most likely use to glue the brass tubes into your drilled pen blanks.   This same glue can also be used to create a glass-like, durable finish which essentially coats your pens in a layer of plastic, protecting them for decades or generations to come. This is referred to as a CA glue finish, or a CA finish for short, and it looks something like this once it’s cured and sanded:   The whole process is a little tricky and it takes some practice, but once you’ve got it down it will make every pen you make a head-turner.   If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at CA...

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What is Pen Turning?

Jun 4, 2013 by

I know from years of doing this that people just don’t understand what you do when you say that one of your hobbies is pen turning.   So what is pen turning?   It’s pretty simple actually. Pen turning is the process of taking a few raw materials, like this:   And turning them into a beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind pen, like this:   This is a several step process that includes preparing the pen blanks for the lathe (a “blank” is just the material you’re using for the pen), turning the pen blanks, sanding the pen blanks, adding a finish, and assembly. If you’ve never created something by hand it’s quite a rewarding thing, especially when you get complements on your little pieces of art. These pens can be turned using just about any...

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