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Thread: Pen blank size?

  1. #1

    Pen blank size?

    Hey pen turners,
    I'm cutting up a bunch of small chunks of wood I have lying around into pen blanks to swap and sell (don't turn pens myself) What is the standard size for a pen blank, and what is the smallest usable size? Looks like most on ebay are 3/4 x 3/4 x 5. Also, is some checking acceptable? I have a lot of high figured/burl iron wood, but some is smaller than stated above and/or has some checking. Pen gurus... Help me out! Cheers, Barry

  2. #2
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    Checking is ok if you know you will be able to turn it out. Most times I have not had good luck doing that because you can't see the hairline cracks that sometimes go all the way thru. Since I am glueing a brass tube in them I don't like wasting time with cracks or checking. Most of the blanks I cut are at least 3/4 X 3/4 X 5 1/2. If I am doing a slimline I have some that are 1/2" sqaure and will be ok. For bigger pens such as Cigars or El Grandes I use the bigger blanks. Hopefully someone else will get in here.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  3. #3
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    Bernie has posted the answer I agree to.

  4. #4
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    Yes, the size you state is considered 'standard'. As for checking, I make judgement calls on those. Sometimes I'll add for free to orders. Customers don't like getting stuff that looks like a discard. If it is still good for a pen but just looks lousy I'll keep and make a pen for myself. For larger style pens, going 7/8"X7/8" or even 1" is desirable. Many penturners state they can drill a 3/4" blank OK for large pens. Yes, it can be done and I have done it. But, there is a higher risk of blow out. With fine woods, especially burls, I'll cut 1" for that margin of safety and consider that, in the long run, the waste is less.
    BTW, that burl ironwood sound delicious. You might want to consider doing that in 1" blanks as it would look very elegant in a larger style pen like a Jr. Gent or full sized Gent.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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

  5. #5
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    Barry, I concur with all answers thus far. And I'm sure you'll find takers for any size you cut. Concerning the "smaller" stuff, how much smaller? In length, or width? For checked blanks, I'm like Frank. If I can turn the check out, I'll keep it for myself and not trade, or sell it. If I can't turn the check out, I'll cut the blank up for a segmented pen. If the blank has voids, inclusions, etc., I'll fill these with colored resin. So if you have any of this "worthless" stuff in burls or figured wood, let me know so I can tell you where to send it.

    EDIT: Below is an example of some Buckeye burl that I filled with resin.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails churchillUGrb_worthless_buckeyeburl.jpg  
    Last edited by Billy Burt; 01-23-2008 at 03:01 PM.

  6. #6
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    For my own use, cut my blank 5" to 5-1/2" long

    For sale or trade I'd cut them 6" long

    Depending on how the stock is dimensioned to begin with, Most of the time I'll cut them 3/4" x 3/4"

  7. #7
    Thanks for the feedback guys. I ended up with a few that were slightly less than 3/4 and some as short as 4 1/2 but I only kept the good looking stuff in that small of size. I just couldn't throw it away. While I got you guys on the subject, what is a good blank size for bottle stoppers? Barry

  8. #8
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    Barry, for stoppers I prefer a minimum size of 1.5" sq x 2" long.

    Oh, and don't worry about the short blanks. I keep short ones for Polaris style, Executive and Sierra pens.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Burt View Post
    Barry, for stoppers I prefer a minimum size of 1.5" sq x 2" long.

    Oh, and don't worry about the short blanks. I keep short ones for Polaris style, Executive and Sierra pens.


    Yeppers. Wat Billy said.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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

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