Pen Blank Preparation
Pen Blank Preparation...Everything you need to know to do it right!
Pen blank prepartion is probably the most time consuming of the steps but one that has to be done properly in order to complete quality projects. If the blanks aren't drilled in the center and the tubes glued in properly the pens won't seat properly and you'll have problems with the projects down the road.
Now that you have decided on your material for your project and the type of project that you want to make, it's time to prepare the material for turning on the wood lathe.
The one cheap little item that will be a complete time and life saver is a piece of acrylic that is called a center finder. This is so simple to use, just put it on the end of your pen blank, mark it, turn it to the opposite corner and mark again. The "X" you just made is the exact center of the piece of material you're working with. You can quickly use it over and over on a variety of sizes of material and mark the exact center on each one quickly.
The next step in pen blank preparation is drilling the hole which will hold the brass tube that allows the completion of the project. When drilling the blanks there are a couple of things that you need to be very careful about. The Drill press table needs to be level and square to the drill bit so that the bits goes in the center of one end and comes out the center of the other end. A perfect solution that combines finding the center of the blank and holding it square to the table and the drill bit is a pen drilling vise. I fought buying one of these due to the cost but kicked myself after I got one for all the time I wasted trying to make other things work. You won't regret buying one of these if you're planning on making several pens or other wooden gifts.
The next step in pen blank preparation is to prepare the brass tube for inserting into the pen blank. The brass tube is very smooth and must be "roughed up" with sandpaper first. Just lightly sand the tube enough to make some grooves which will allow the epoxy glue to hold onto both the tube and the blank. I just usually hold the brass tube with one hand and slide it back and forth over a scrap piece of sandpaper (the grit doesn't really matter) until the shine goes away.
Now mix your 2 part epoxy glue and smear it onto the tube and slide the tube into the blank with the pen tube insertion tool. This will keep as much of this epoxy glue off your hands as possible...you'll want to do that, this stuff is impossible to get off, it basically has to just wear off.
Once this glue has completely set up and hardened you need to use a pen mill barrel cleaner. This cleans the excess glue out of the tube and square up the end of the tube and wood blank so that the kits seat properly.
You can just put this in a hand drill and hold the blank but I wouldn't recommend it, the torque created is very high and I have seen the bit catch and the pen blank explode several times. The way I recommend doing this is using a drill press and wold the blank with a pair of pliers. Make sure you are wearing a good face shield to protect your face and eyes in case of flying debris.
Now we're read to mount the blank to the pen mandrel and start letting the chips fly!
Ready to go to the next step....mounting the pen blanks on the mandrel!
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