The last time I stood behind a lathe was in high school shop class. I was making a pool cue for my best friend as a gift. He was moving across the country. The pool cue turned out as good as it could have, I graduated and never used a lathe since. I finally was able to get a lath from Rockler and thought a pen turning video would be the perfect first project to get my feet wet again.
Pen turning is fast, easy to do, safe, and you can even include the kids! You can make your own blanks and get your own pen kits but Rockler Woodworking and Hardware sells a starter kit that has everything you need to get started. That is what I did, and I highly recommend it.
Start with grabbing a turning blank and head to your cutting method of choice. I used a miter saw in the video, but a hand saw, band saw, or even a scroll saw would work just fine. Cut the blank in half and put arrows on the blank where you cut it. These marking will help keep the grain aligned during all of the steps so when it comes time to assemble the pen, the grain matching up perfectly.
Grab the included brad point drill bit and drill a through hole. You can do this by hand but I would highly recommend a drill press. After the through holes have been cut, we need to glue in the brass tubes from the pen kit. Apply a liberal amount of the included CA glue around the tube and put it into the wood blank. Do not put any inside the hole in the wood blank, this will cause glue to get inside the tube.
Head back to the drill press and using the included barrel trimmer, square up the wood to the barrel. Go just deep enough to trim a little of the brass barrel away.
At the lathe, insert the pen mandrel. Put the bushings and blanks on the lathe in this order: bushing, wood blank, bushing, wood blank, and a final bushing. tighten with the knob and apply your tail stock.
Turn the pen blanks to the desired look, keeping in mind that the ends of the blanks need to be turned down flush with the bushings. This will ensure the pen hardware will match up to the wood.
Press the pen parts into the wood blanks and presto! You have a beautiful custom pen!