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Thread: dumb pen questions.

  1. #1
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    dumb pen questions.

    help me understand this mandrel stuff. I purchased a mandrel with a pen set.
    I turn 7mm slimline pens. Ive turned over 15 pens or pencils so far.
    If I want to turn another style pen, lets say one that is a fattie, do I have to buy a new mandrel or do all mandrels fit all bushings for all style pens?
    Second, Ive used around 10 of my own blanks, split quite a few of them, my own fault, aggresive gouge......
    when I cut the 7mm hole, I have not yet built a jig for the drill press, only use my battery operated ryobi drill, eyeball it, and even if its a bit off center, I figure its a 3/4 inch blank, the pens have been coming out ok.
    Is it essential I need to build a jig for any other reason other than its convenient?


    while IM on the turning subject.
    Ive been turning and practicing alot. A real lot. Ive been out there at night, even when my eyes have shut down for the day, and been practicing with different ways to hold the gouges, skews, speeds, etc....
    Ive been making candle stick and candle holders just to learn shaping.

    Today I took a piece of that old oak furniture sides the wood guy gave me, depinned it, made sure there was no other metal in it, cut it down and mounted it between centers to try to make a bowl. Man, oak is one tough cookie.
    My gouge hand was burning so bad when I came in at lunchtime, it was red and it hurt.
    When I went out, I wrapped my left hand with a heavy plastic style duct tape I had, and that stopped the burning.
    I got a good hand waxing when I pulled the tape off, but I got the bowl spun enough.
    Last edited by allen levine; 10-20-2009 at 05:54 PM.

  2. #2
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    Allen, I am going to wing this answer while waiting for my students to change into their welding gear.

    Two general sizes of mandrels, 7 and 10 (I think)mm. Nope, don't need new mandrel unless the ID of the bushings call for it. Then if you want, you can order only the shaft/axle of the mandrel and get the larger one.

    I mark the center of my pen blank so I can put it on the mandrel and keep it in the direction it came off of the blank. This way any grain lines or spalting lines will match up on both sides of the center band. For drilling, I put an X on the end of each blank on the center end. This insures your grain lines matching at the center band (where the eye looks for this to occur). If the drill bit wanders off center but not out the side, you will never know once it is turned. I have found a pair of pliers works best for me. I also have a pair of 1/2 X 1/2 inch sticks that I have notches cut in of different sizes that I hold the blank with. But mainly pliers so I can visually check if it is leaning or not. Let's see, did this cover it for you? If not feel free to ask for clarification or more questions.
    Jon

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  3. #3
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    How about drilling pen blanks on the lathe! A scroll chuck on the headstock end, a drill chuck on the tailstock end, and you will never have another problem drilling a pen blank. Slow speed as well!

    There are esentially 2 mandrels, an "A" & a "B". The turning instructions for each pen kit will tell you which you require. I haven't used a mandrell in so long, I always turn mandrel less and possibly without bushings as well. Use you calipers for sizing each end of the blank you are turning.
    Mack C. in Brooklin ON
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    help me understand this mandrel stuff. I purchased a mandrel with a pen set.
    I turn 7mm slimline pens. Ive turned over 15 pens or pencils so far.
    If I want to turn another style pen, lets say one that is a fattie, do I have to buy a new mandrel or do all mandrels fit all bushings for all style pens?
    Second, Ive used around 10 of my own blanks, split quite a few of them, my own fault, aggresive gouge......
    when I cut the 7mm hole, I have not yet built a jig for the drill press, only use my battery operated ryobi drill, eyeball it, and even if its a bit off center, I figure its a 3/4 inch blank, the pens have been coming out ok.
    Is it essential I need to build a jig for any other reason other than its convenient?


    while IM on the turning subject.
    Ive been turning and practicing alot. A real lot. Ive been out there at night, even when my eyes have shut down for the day, and been practicing with different ways to hold the gouges, skews, speeds, etc....
    Ive been making candle stick and candle holders just to learn shaping.

    Today I took a piece of that old oak furniture sides the wood guy gave me, depinned it, made sure there was no other metal in it, cut it down and mounted it between centers to try to make a bowl. Man, oak is one tough cookie.
    My gouge hand was burning so bad when I came in at lunchtime, it was red and it hurt.
    When I went out, I wrapped my left hand with a heavy plastic style duct tape I had, and that stopped the burning.
    I got a good hand waxing when I pulled the tape off, but I got the bowl spun enough.
    You have packed a lot of questions in there. I'll try to attack most of them.
    There are two size mandrels, 7mm and 8mm. The 8mm is kinda proprietary to Berea, most folks use 7 so I'll keep my responses to that size.
    For larger pens, yes, the 7 is still what you need as the bushings are drilled for that.
    However, do a search for the 'no mandrel' method of turning larger pens. It is far more accurate. As you get into larger (read that 'more expensive') pens you will need to focus on quality. IMHO and experience, it simply cannot be achieved using a mandrel. The flex factor will give you ovoid pens rather than round. The 'no mandrel' gives round results. If you can't find the threads, write me and I'll describe it for you. In fact, my fading memory seems to recall I did a tut on this.
    A homemade jig on the drill press can be a big help. But there are commercial vices that work very well. I use an 'XY' machinists vice for drilling blanks. You will need more accuracy for the larger pens. e.g. big hole, little piece of wood.
    A lot of things can cause a pen blank to blow while being turned. If you are getting a lot of catches, I'm thinking you are not using a high enough speed. Crank 'er up to over 2,000 rpm. 3,000 isn't to much. Do use a light touch. I use a gouge to knock the corners off then switch to a 1" skew.
    I'm going to start a war here......But, I'm not an anti-glove proponent. I don't like to put my hands near dangerous stuff with, or without gloves. Those chips coming off can be hot. I have seen videos of professionals wearing gloves. Makes sense to me.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  5. #5
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    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    However, do a search for the 'no mandrel' method of turning larger pens. It is far more accurate. As you get into larger (read that 'more expensive') pens you will need to focus on quality. IMHO and experience, it simply cannot be achieved using a mandrel. The flex factor will give you ovoid pens rather than round. The 'no mandrel' gives round results. If you can't find the threads, write me and I'll describe it for you. In fact, my fading memory seems to recall I did a tut on this.
    A homemade jig on the drill press can be a big help. But there are commercial vices that work very well. I use an 'XY' machinists vice for drilling blanks. You will need more accuracy for the larger pens. e.g. big hole, little piece of wood.
    A lot of things can cause a pen blank to blow while being turned. If you are getting a lot of catches, I'm thinking you are not using a high enough speed. Crank 'er up to over 2,000 rpm. 3,000 isn't to much. Do use a light touch. I use a gouge to knock the corners off then switch to a 1" skew.
    I'm going to start a war here......But, I'm not an anti-glove proponent. I don't like to put my hands near dangerous stuff with, or without gloves. Those chips coming off can be hot. I have seen videos of professionals wearing gloves. Makes sense to me.
    Frank,
    I looked at your tut on the no mandrel... matter of fact also read about it over on the IAP and have been thinking about it for a while... finally decided to spend the few $'s to get the drive center.... haven't had a chance to try it yet... the drive came while I was in the hospital and I've only been out to the shop once since getting out... still working on the healing and getting over my little bout with Pneumonia that I got after I got home.... Looking forward to trying it when I get up the strength to work again - which I hope is soon.... I'm getting awfully bored with daytime TV.

    On the glove thing, I don't remember now who, but the local Woodcraft had a turner come in for a demo.... all he does is turning and is a pretty big name in the craft.... he demo'd doing bowls and the first thing he did when he set up was put on a leather glove on his left hand.... I've cut the fingers out of an old leather glove that I use and has protected my hand from all those hot chips and splinters....
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
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  7. #7
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    Just to chime in on the glove debate...

    Some of you may recall I got my left hand torn up after it was sucked into a Forstner bit on my drill press around Christmas last year. Wouldn't have been nearly as bad if I hadn't been wearing a glove.

    That said, I still wear a glove on my left hand if I have hot chips hitting it, or if I'm roughing something that has the potential of sending a chunk or sliver of wood into my hand. I'm just very, very cautious and aware of where that hand is at all times;.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  8. #8
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    I have leather golf gloves that are very tight, I dont play golf now, Im sure they will work fine.

    I found a task incredibly hard today when I decided to glue up a chunk of that mystery wood I have.
    I mounted a 6x6x12 piece between centers, was going to turn an end for chuck, but after I got the speed up as I cut it rounder, it was pretty easy going.
    Im making a lamp, and attempting to drill a 12 inch hole proved to be a mighty difficult task.
    I originally was going to wait for bed extension, but I still did not understand how the bit would travel all the way through the wood.(the tool guy, explained that its put through tail stock opening, or headstock)
    I tried spade bits, disaster, then auger bit, but only had 5 inch auger.
    I bought a 12 inch bit extender, put a nice new auger bit on it, and zooooomm, right through the piece, right through the plywood underneath it, and then right through my work bench top!
    At least I got the lamp tube hole.
    Not as easy as I thought at all, then I had to hand chisel out a channel for the wire.
    I had a 33 gallon trash can filled with scrapings from just this piece, maybe a pen or two.
    I was spinning last night during the Yankee/LA game, out there at 11pm, and was back there 7 am today till almost 8:30 spinning.
    My lathe is getting alot of use.

    hey frank, did you say when I turn quality pens? The pens Im giving away the people look at me like I invented the wheel, theyve never seen anything like a wood pen, they are so impressed, its very funny.
    I spoke with the tool guy today at length, and he said besides that LI woodworkers association, which isnt near me, he says LI is not a big turning place. The one wood guy near me, that sold all species of wood, and I remember he had pen blanks inside, went out of business.
    Last edited by allen levine; 10-21-2009 at 09:33 PM.

  9. #9
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    Allen said, "hey frank, did you say when I turn quality pens? The pens Im giving away the people look at me like I invented the wheel, theyve never seen anything like a wood pen, they are so impressed, its very funny.
    I spoke with the tool guy today at length, and he said besides that LI woodworkers association, which isnt near me, he says LI is not a big turning place. The one wood guy near me, that sold all species of wood, and I remember he had pen blanks inside, went out of business."

    On the "quality" thing, please keep in mind that I am an honor graduate of the Hulk Hogan College of Diplomacy.
    Sorry about the wording that might have implied your work was not "quality". Didn't mean it like that. I do have to point out that the overall quality of my larger pens went up to where I am nearly satisfied with them. They do sell for fairly high prices in the art galleries where they are displayed.
    The 'no mandrel' method largely gets the credit for this.
    And, yes, a simple pen can be a thing of beauty. I have given some Slimlines to friends who appreciated them tremendously. In fact, a friend who was dying made one of his last requests that the pen I had given him be put in his pocket to be buried with him. His widow told me it would be over his heart forever. That was a grabber and I'll never forget it.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

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