Pen turning is an art, not just a wood turning technique. With just some basic skills a woodworker can began to enjoy pen turning and soon find it is one of the most enjoyable of all woodworking crafts to learn and master. Each handcrafted wooden pen is unique based on the pen turner and the creative liberties taken to create the finished design.
The Eight Steps to Pen Turning
There are eight basic steps to DIY pen turning; choosing just the right pen blank, marketing out the pen blank, drilling the pen blank, gluing the tubes, squaring the blanks, turning the blanks, the finishing and the assembly. The most important step in the process is choosing the right pen blank.
Types of Pen Blanks
Pen blanks come in two basic stocks, natural and synthetic. Natural pen stocks, include strata blanks, which are multiple type of natural woods, all of different colors, glued and laminated together, exotic and tropical woods, antlers, and animal bones. Synthetic pen stock, includes acrylics such as crushed pearl, retro lava bright, glass fiber, and laminated leathers just to name a few.
Pen Turning Lathes and Pen Assembly Press
The best lathe for turning wooden pens is a mini lathe. Although a midi lathe can work, it is a little larger and depending on the model, may take several additional accessories to do a great turn. A multispeed mini lathe gives the pen turner full control over their pen turning. A Pen Assembly Press will also be required. The pen press ensures the finished pen is assembled without damaging the outer finish of the pen.
Pen Finishing Supplies
Choosing a finishing process requires the pen turner to understand how the pen blank and the finishing products work together. However, there are some basic supplies that will be required no matter what pen stock is chosen; micro-mesh sandpaper, micro-polish, friction-polish, micro-crystalline wax and wood stain. Although not all supplies will be used on each pen, but these supplies cover the basics.
DIY Pen Turning Tools
One of the best things about pen turning is that it takes only three basic lathe tools; a parting tool, an oval skew chisel and a spindle gouge. Although there are plenty of cheap versions of these tools, the best ones have carbide tips. They last longer, cut cleaner and give the pen turner a smoother cut on the pen blanks.