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Thread: 2 questions.

  1. #1
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    2 questions.

    Can I walk into any sign making place(there is one close to me) and buy a 3/4 inch thick piece of acrylic and cut it down for blanks?(meaning, are pen blanks any type of special formulation, or just regular acrylic like the 1/4 inch sheet I purchase)

    bushings-how often do you purchase a new set? is it just when the pens dont start to look right or fit right
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  2. #2
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    Allen, I'm pretty sure I remember several people saying they've turned pens from acrylic off cuts. I think the same is true for corian? As to the bushings...never turned a pen so can't answer. I know my dad has turned between 40-50 and he is still on his first set.
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  3. #3
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    No info on the acrylic (although I believe Jeff's right), but as far as bushings go, I've not yet seen the need to replace any of mine yet. Conceivably, if a person was too heavy-handed with the sanding steps, they would eventually wear down, but so far, I've not run into that problem. I've probably turned 100+ pens over the years, although those are spread out over maybe eight to ten different pen styles (and bushing sets).
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  4. #4
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    You can turn a pen out of just about anything Allen. When using acrylics of any kind, you will likely get some chip out to start. Once it's nice and round, you should get nice, long, pain-in-the-butt whispy strings. Stop and clean them off your stuff frequently. Wet sanding works best for plastics of any kind...but that is JMHO
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  5. #5
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    Ditto what Jim said. I haven't replaced a set of bushings yet and they are about 3 or 4 yrs old. +1 on the wet sanding and then buff with a beall buff will give you a mirror shine.
    Bernie W.

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  6. #6
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    If you are careful, which I know you are paying attention to detail, bushing replacement won't happen often. Now with my students! HOLY COW!!! Some of them think they are to continue across the bushing with the skew and then wonder why it is dull!! If you think you are having an issue, the plans should tell you the bushing diameter and you can then use a micrometer to double check your bushings. Some people turn only using the micrometer method as they think that insures better success ratio at the fit and finish detail.
    Jon

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    Can I walk into any sign making place(there is one close to me) and buy a 3/4 inch thick piece of acrylic and cut it down for blanks?(meaning, are pen blanks any type of special formulation, or just regular acrylic like the 1/4 inch sheet I purchase)

    bushings-how often do you purchase a new set? is it just when the pens dont start to look right or fit right
    You can turn acrylic OK, I don't like it but many do. I will not turn Corian, like granite. I gave away a box of the stuff and the reciepient loves it.
    Bushings can last from one second to near forever. When I do the 'no mandrel' method of turning I take out the bushings for the final turn down to fit the pen parts. After doing this two or three times you will be an expert. That puts no wear on the bushings at all. OTOH, do consider them disposable items, not permanent tools.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by allen levine View Post
    Can I walk into any sign making place(there is one close to me) and buy a 3/4 inch thick piece of acrylic and cut it down for blanks?(meaning, are pen blanks any type of special formulation, or just regular acrylic like the 1/4 inch sheet I purchase)

    bushings-how often do you purchase a new set? is it just when the pens dont start to look right or fit right
    Allen,
    Like Vaughn and other said, it depends on how you handle the bushings... I've turned about 10 years and started with pens and have maybe about a 1000 +/- under my belt.... I'm still using the original bushing I bought ... I do have a set for each pen kit I turn and keep them sorted and marked...

    As for the acrylic... short answer is probably Yes... you could, but likelihood is you won't get much of a color choice... most sign makes probably use solid colors.... also what pen makers often refer to as acrylics ( at least in my case ) are of several formulations... you can get poly-resins, Acetate Acrylics and another form I forget the name of... then you have the casters who make their own blanks, using another type of plastic which most just refer to as acrylics....
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
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  9. #9
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    I am not a pen turner But I have turned acrylic, corian etc and get my pieces as off cuts from kitchen builders etc. Its not hard to do and a really finish is easy to achieve

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