Woodturning A Pen was the second project I undertook after completing my woodturning shed.
I had made one previous pen at Mikes workshop where he patiently instructed me in the delicate art of turning a pen on his lathe.
He has an Axminster lathe but his model does not have a variable speed facility.
It was on his advice that I paid the extra and bought an Axminster Hobby Series AH-1218VS Woodturning Lathe.
This is the first model in the range to have a variable speed function and I have to say I am really glad I listened to his advice.
Axminster Hobby Series AH-1218 Woodturning Lathe
For those looking for slightly larger capacities and more motor power than is normally found in small bench top lathes (but still within a reasonable budget), this would be a great choice. Made almost entirely of cast iron, the bed of this lathe has a finely ground top surface and ensures stability and minimal vibration during operation.
The thick walled cast iron headstock and tailstock provide rigidity, and give years of trouble-free turning pleasure. The tailstock is hollow (9mm bore) allowing long-hole boring to take place using a standard long-hole boring auger, and features automatic ejection of centres. Quick release levers allow for easy and accurate positioning of tool rest and tailstock.
The lathe is powered by a 500W motor, which is smooth and quiet during operation. The spindle speeds range from 500 to 3,150rpm, with a choice of five belt ratios. The spindle nose has the very common 1″ x 8tpi thread and a 2MT internal taper, so a large range of accessories is available.
Solid rubber feet help to eliminate movement whilst in operation. The tailstock barrel has 50mm of movement and includes a 2MT live centre. An additional bed extension is available, giving an extra capacity of 670mm between centres. This is a great lathe for those looking for that extra power and capacity, but retaining portability.
Supplied with Axminster drive and live centres, 150mm tool rest and 75mm faceplate.
Having bought the lathe I also bought some slim line stylus pen kits as well as some wood and acrylic pen blanks from my visit to Axminster tools.
I set about measuring the blanks to make sure I cut each just the right length to be able to insert the brass inner tubes and then it was onto the tricky job of drilling the 7mm hole down the centre of each blank.
This task was made a lot easier by the purchase of a pillar drill again from Axminster tools.
Once drilled and cut to size it was now a case of gluing the tubes inside the blanks. I used araldite for this first pen.
Once hardened it was onto the lathe and sliding the blanks onto the pen mandrel.
Axminster Pen Mandrel
I had purchased the Axminster Pen mandrel following advice again from Mike and I have to say it is really easy to use for a beginner.
The Axminster Evolution Series Compression Pen Mandrel might be the dearest but I do find it easy to use and produces great results.
Here is a helpful video on Youtube to show you this Axminster pen mandrel
Axminster describes it in detail “Operating in a different way to other mandrels, the Evolution Series Compression Pen Mandrel is a big step forward in mandrel design. The prepared pen blanks are located on the shaft with any bushings that may be required and then the included hollow revolving centre is simply moved into position over the shaft. When the tailstock quill is tightened it is the blank and bushings that are held in compression and not the shaft as with conventional mandrels. The result is improved concentricity and results in less vibration during turning. Because the silver steel mandrel shaft is accommodated within the revolving tailstock centre, length adjustment is unnecessary. If you make a lot of pens the time saved by using this mandrel would be considerable.”
Now the fun began and wood was flying everywhere.
I soon had the pen shaped to what I thought was a good design and then started the finishing technique.
By now I had invested in some finer grade sanding pads and I was quite pleased with the effect.
I had been studying videos on youtube for different finishing effects. I thought I wood try the techniques shown below.
Boiled Linseed Oil & CA Glue
The finish was applied as above and I then removed the pen from the lathe for assembly.
Now I had made one before which makes what I did next absolutely stupid.
Look at the image below and see if you can spot my mistake.
Think carefully about the assembly as you cannot remove any of the pen parts as they are pressure fitted.
Any attempt to remove the top would have ruined both the metal and wood finish – Doh!!!
So Project number two gave me a sort of pen but plenty of lessons for the future.