Preventing Pen Blanks from Breaking/Blowing Out: Pen Turning...

Oct 3, 2014 by

If there were a reset button in the world of pen turning, it would be breaking or blowing out your pen blanks while they’re on the lathe – and I’m sure I’m not the only pen turner in the world that has accidentally hit that “button” on a number of occasions. Over the years I’ve added a few very simple steps during blank preparation and turning that cut the odds of pen blanks exploding on the lathe by close to 100%. Never want to have a blowout again? Keep on reading…   Sand Your Brass Tubes If you haven’t already started doing this, now is the time. This creates a stronger bond between your pen blank and the brass tube that’s holding them on the lathe. The better your pen blanks cling to these brass tubes, the less...

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How to Prevent Ghosting and Cloudiness in a CA Finish...

Sep 25, 2014 by

So you’ve spent a lot of time turning your pen perfectly, sanding it, and preparing it for your finish. You’re going step-by-step on a CA finish and feel like everything is going fine. You sand with micromesh down to 12,000 and, wait, WHAT THE HELL?! What’s this cloudiness/ghosting I’m seeing in my CA finish?! I’ve been there many-a-time, unfortunately, and each time it happened took everything in my being to not blow a gasket. Over the years I’ve picked up a few tips/tricks that will significantly decrease the odds of this ever happening again. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Paper Towels I know it sounds simple, but this can really cause your CA finish to take a turn for the worst. Some people use Viva, others use blue shop towels, I’ve heard tall tales of...

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Best Pen Finishes

Aug 1, 2014 by

The best pen finishes in this industry vary on the material you’re using and, in the case of wood finishes, what your preference is. Do you like your wooden pens to look and feel like wood? Or would you rather sacrifice the look and feel for a lifelong, glass-like finish? I’ll address all common materials and preferences in this post.   Best Pen Finishes for Wooden Pens As I mentioned above, finishes for wood pens aren’t as straightforward as plastic and stone pens – you have options based on your preferences: If you like the look/feel of wood: Your best option is an oil/wax/shellac based finish. This comes at a price though – your pen will have a nice, glossy finish when it’s on the lathe, but that will wear off in time. I...

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Pen Turning Video: Step-by-Step Pen Making Instructions...

Jul 24, 2014 by

Pen Turning 101: Intro to Pen Making In this video we’re going to cover how to go from this… to this… and every step in between. We’re going to move fairly quickly here, so throughout the video I’ll be linking to highly detailed, step-by-step instructions for each phase of the pen turning process just in case you want more in-depth instructions. Preparing the Pen Blanks To begin, the pen blank, which is the material you’ll be working with, is measured and then cut. After both blanks are cut, a hole is bored through the middle of the blank using either a drill press or mini-lathe attachments, and then two brass tubes are slathered in glue and pressed into the pen blanks. These will serve as the foundation for the rest of the pen. Turning the Pens...

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Pen Photography: A Pro Setup for Less than $30...

Jul 18, 2014 by

Pen photography is absolutely essential to learn for any pen turner that wants to sell their pens or just show them off to friends or family members. It’s NOT super hard or expensive, contrary to popular belief. In this post I’ll outline exactly how you can take professional, awesome photographs of your pens for less than $30, assuming you already own a camera (even a pretty basic one).   My Complete Pen Photography Setup Would you believe that I’m able to take beautiful, professional pictures of my pens like this:   Using the raggedy, amateur, piecemeal setup below? Well that’s it! It’s shoved off in a corner of my garage on a storage shelf in above the chemicals/car care equipment and below the dog kennels we use for travel. It’s humble, but it produces incredible results....

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5 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Pen Turning...

Dec 14, 2013 by

As I noted on my about me page, I started turning pens when I was 14 in seventh grade wood shop. The internet wasn’t remotely as it is today, and all of the best pen turners I would encounter at trade shows were coveting their secrets. So here are the top 5 things that I learned the hard way – a massive shortcut on your way to turning perfect pens.   Keeping Your Chisels Sharp is Priority #1 If you don’t own a bench grinder and a sharpening jig of some kind, you’re turning pens and other projects dramatically under your potential right now. Buy a grinder, bolt it to a table or very secure shelf, and buy or throw together a jig. We’re talking about $30-$50 and a couple of hours of work...

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