Starting out pen turning
Amaze your friends and family by creating a beautiful
writing instrument made from wood. Turning wooden
pens is a very satisfying and rewarding pastime,
needing very little extra equipment and in a short
time you will be turning pens to delight and
fascinate any lucky recipient. There are many
different styles of ball point, roller ball and
fountain pen as well as propelling and click pencil.
They are all available in a variety of finishes
ranging from gold and silver to chrome plating and
when combined with the choice of hundreds of wooden
and man made pen blanks, all tastes and styles are
The equipment needed to start
turning pens is very basic and only requires a few
specialist items in addition to your normal
woodturning tools. These items are available from
most good woodturning retail outlets as well as more
accessories to help turn quantities of pens when you
become more proficient. The following is a brief
description of the tools and equipment that will
help you create your beautiful writing instruments.
Pen blank selection
The choice of blanks
is endless and covers the full spectrum of wood
available for turning as well as many varieties of
man made materials and natural media such as stone
and animal horn.
When choosing your pen blanks
try to remember that when turned a pen has very
little surface area, in comparison to a bowl for
example and can look too plain if the material used
is too bland. When choosing a wooden pen blank
ensure that it has an interesting figuring or if you
are going to use a man made material select one with
colour contrasting ripples.
Also be aware
that some woods such as Paduak and Purple heart have
a very vibrant colour when first turned but due to
the effects of sunlight and air they become very
dull and uninteresting. Pen blanks vary in size from
approximately ½" - 1" square and 4 ½" - 6" long, so
ensure that you select the correct size blank for
the specific pen that you are going to turn.
If you have any doubt when you are first
learning it would benefit you to use a bigger blank
and turn it down, than get a small one only to find
it is too small once you have finished turning it.
If you are going to use the more exotic woods such
as Snake wood, Cocobolo and Kingwood, ensure that
the blank is dry and free from any faults or cracks
as these will cause you problems when you start to
drill and turn them.
It is recommended that
you turn using a lathe speed of 2500rpm or faster to
ensure a clean cut on such a small surface area.
Most wood turning lathes have this capability, with
small more compact lathes being more suitable to pen
turning although pens can be turned on any size of
Pens can be turned using
standard woodturning tools, with the size and type
of tool used varying with personal choice, although
the tools required are normally a combination of a
roughing gouge, spindle gouge, skew and a parting
tool. There are also specific pen turning tool sets
available on the market and the tools in these sets
have been chosen for ease of use and suitability for
Note: You can view a
bigger version of the wood turned items by placing your mouse curser on the
image and click. A new window will open with the larger image. When finished
viewing, just close the window and come back here to view the others.
Colour and markings may differ in
appearance slightly in your finished turning from the one's shown in the photo's
depending on wood used at the time they are turned. Each item is handcrafted
individually, so slight variances should be expected especially if ordering more
than one item. The sizes listed are approximate. They may be a couple of
millimetres taller, longer, wider or little shorter, etc.
Commissioned works - Why not have that special one off piece crafted by a
professional turner. I am available to make commissioned pieces for any special occasion, to your requirements . To discuss your requirements contact