PEN MAKING
Lathe
Pen Mandrel with Bushings
Drill Bit
Drill Press or Jacobs Chuck
Clamp or Vice
Barrel Trimmer (optional)
Pen Kit
Blanks (Wood or other material)
Superglue
abrasive Paper
Finishing Products
The first thing you need is a 'blank'. A blank is a piece of material you use to make the pen out of. A blank can be made from wood, plastic, Corean or other material. It will usually be around 15-18mm (¾in) square and 125-150mm (5-6in) long. You can buy precut pen blanks from most of the turning suppliers and ebay or you can cut your own. The blank has to be cut into 2 pieces, usually the length of each pen barrel but cut them slightly longer. Mark the ends that you cut so that you can match the grain up later.
Identify the centre of the blank for drilling. Do this by drawing an X from corner to corner. Using the correct drill(this will differ to which pen kit you have and the barrel sizes), drill a hole accurately from one end to the other in both pieces. You can use a drill press for this or use your lathe with a jacobs chuck (see photo).
Note: Drill slowly and pull back often to prevent splitting.
Now you are ready to glue the brass tubes into the blanks. Test the tubes to see that they slide in the blanks easily. Now rough the outside of the brass tube with fine abrasive for better bonding. Put a few drops of superglue in the end of the blank and let it run to the opposite end whilst turning the blank to ensure good coverage then push the brass tubes in and leave them to dry.
Note: Keep a small hammer and block of wood handy in case the tube gets stuck.
When the blanks are dry you will need to square the ends as this is a very important part of the process. You can either sand the blanks down to the edge of the brass tube or the specified length, or you can use a barrel trimmer. Place the mandrel in the headstock of the lathe and assemble the blanks on the mandrel, ensuring the two marked end meet in the middle, with the correct size bushing. The bushes are dependent on the size of the pen you are turning. The ones in the photo are for a slimline pen. Tighten the end nut and pull up the tailstock. Position the tool rest as close as possible to the blanks without touching them. Turn the blanks around by hand to check that they clear the rest.
Using a ¾in gouge turn the blanks to within 1/16 of the bushings. Reposition the tool rest closer to the blanks. Now finish turning with either a skew or a spindle gouge to the level of the bushings.
Sand the blanks with abrasive paper or preferred product until you reach a smooth fine finish.
There are many differnet finishes on the market and far to many to name here but I use a friction build up polish applied with kitchen paper. To assemble the pen you will need to refer to the pen kit instructions. Different kits contain different parts and are assembled in different orders. The photo shows a type that pushes together and a vice is ideal for this.  

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