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 on the Lathe

After the glue has been given enough time to cure, the blanks are placed on the mini-lathe using a pen mandrel and round metal guides called “bushings” which indicate how much material to remove from your blanks. During this stage you’ll slowly take layer, after layer, after layer off of the pen using either a gouge or a skew until the size of the pen blanks closely match the bushings for that pen kit. Then it’s time to begin sanding.

Sanding Your Blanks

You’ll typically remove the last bit of material using various grits of sandpaper starting off with coarse grit and gradually moving to a finer grit. After several layers of sanding, you’re ready to apply your finish.

Applying Your Finish

There are multiple types of finish available to pen turners, but in this video we’re applying a CA finish which is considered one of the most difficult, but also produces a long-lasting, glass-like shine that will never wear off for the life of the pen. This requires applying several layers of CA glue followed by repeating several stages of sanding and finished using a liquid polish for plastic pens. After the finish cures, your pen is ready to be removed from the lathe and assembled.

Assembling Your Pen

Assembly is pretty straightforward, but if you don’t pay close attention during this process you can crack a pen and all of the work you’ve put in so far is permanently tainted. Follow the assembly instructions that came with your pen kit closely, making sure to pay close attention to how straight the pieces are during assembly (so you don’t cause excess pressure on the sides), and being mindful that you’re not putting too much pressure to slide the pen components into place.

After all pieces are assembled, slide your pen cartridge into the pen and voila! You have a beautiful, handcrafted pen that’s great for giving as a gift or selling to your next customer.

Thanks for Watching!

That’s it for this introduction to pen turning. If you want step-by-step directions of this entire process that you can work through at your own pace, accompanied by hundreds of pictures and highly detailed text instructions, check out the step-by-step tutorial on I go into much greater detail and give a ton of tips and tricks so that your pen can be as close to perfect as possible.

That’s all for now! This is Ian Pribyl from wishing you all happy turning!

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1 Comment

  1. Ian,

    How do you keep from gluing the bushings to your blank while applying a CA finish?

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