Preparing the Blanks – Step 3 in My Pen Making

Preparing the Blanks

Now is the time to prepare the blanks for the turning process.

Cut Blanks to the length

The blanks are first cut to length. I cut them to length on a bandsaw, about 3 mm longer than the brass tube that I insert. The tube houses the internals of the finished pen.

Drill a hole through the center

First, I drill a hole through the blank that will allow the brass tube to fit. At first, I used a hand-held drill press to drill the holes but I rarely achieved a straight hole through the center of the blank. However, I had other processes to fix it. My second process in drilling the center hole was with a pedestal drill, with a small homemade clamp to hold the blank.

This worked well, but I found that I had to align the pedestal drill every time I used it. Now, since I acquired a “Jacobs Chuck” (a chuck that I put in the tailstock of a lathe with a drill bit) I can drill the blanks on the lathe and the holes are always in the center of the blank. I can also successfully drill much deeper holes than before, as I need them for the long blanks for the Executive Clicker and other single-barrel pens.

Gluing the tube

Next, the tube is glued into the blank. I “rough up” the brass tube to help the glue stick to it. For timber blanks, I use “gorilla” glue, and for acrylic blanks, I use CA glue (super glue). Allow the glue to dry.

Squaring the blanks

After the glue has dried, I “square” the ends of the blanks so that they are perpendicular to the tube. There are two methods for this job. (a) using a specialized pen mill. This is a small milling head that is placed into a drill with a lead that fits into the tube. As the drill is turned the milling end cuts the material away making it perpendicular to the tube. And (b) With a homemade alignment device, the ends a squared on a sanding disc. Both ends are then square with the tube.

The blanks are then ready for the lathe.

The blank preparation is the longest part of the pen-making process. Hence, in most cases, I prepare the blanks in batches of twenty or so, when making larger orders. The glue needs to be fully cured before the next step can be taken.

Source by David Nivala

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