Friday, September 3, 2010

Pen Making

Just had a customer in the shop and he told me that the JET mini lathe is no good for pen turning, he sold his and bought a variable speed mini vicmarc. Well now my penkits are no good because they are out of round. Anyway to get to the point he watched a youtube video about some supplier making pens  and is now an expert. What the problem is that all penkits after they are glued up need the ends made square,their are various ways to do this, but for some reason he was just touching them on a disc sander. How you can ever get them perfectly square freehand eludes me. What was happening  was that as the mandrel was tightened they were being pushed out of alignment because the ends were not square.  I always square the ends up with a pen mill then put them on the mandrel and have used various lathes and not had any out of round problems. I read now about extended bushing,turning between centre's,special hollow centre's adjustable length mandrels etc, etc. If careful preparation is done before turning   out of round problems should not exist. One other point to remember is that all pen mandrels are drilled on the end to accept a 60' live centre,I have seen a few problems here with out of round or badly machined live centre's .


  1. Gary, I just recently found out about the 60’ live center issue. I was using a different center one weekend and couldn’t understand where the “wobble” was coming from and realized I was using a different live center. One of my mentors set me straight at the next club meeting.