Whittling a dip pen from firewood

Here’s the pen I made for Bill Livolsi’s No Lathe Pen Challenge.  Since I wasn’t doing it the easy way I decided to go the basic route, a dip pen.  I started with a piece of oak firewood, cut a chunk out of it and whittles it into shape with a pocket carving knife.

No Lathe Pen Challenge: https://youtu.be/Khokap7AP5o?list=PLHoCZ7LR6hNrJHIlhZxW876wEhs9ReQTt

No Lathe Pen Challenge Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHoCZ7LR6hNrJHIlhZxW876wEhs9ReQTt

Bill Livolsi’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/johnnyatropos

Flexcut Whittlin Jack pocket knife: http://amzn.to/2kIyCcA (Associate Link)

Making a wood turned pen

Now that I’ve had the wood lathe for a few months and have made an unusually large number of pens during that time, I thought I’d breakdown how I make my pens.  It may not be the right way, it may not be the best way, it may not be your way, but it’s my way right now and that could change tomorrow if I find a better way.

We’ll start off with a video of the process.  Start here:

So, first things first.  You need wood.  You can buy a blank or do like I do and scrounge for it.  That scrounging comes in the form of firewood, logs, or cutting down that dead cherry tree in my back yard.  If you’re cutting your own wood you’ll need to let it dry too.

Next, take that blank and cut it to size.  That size depends on the pen kit you’re using.  What you cut the blank on depends on your equipment.  I cut my blanks on the table saw, but you can use a hand saw, band saw or a sharp rock if you’d like.  Just leave each piece a bit longer than the tubes.

After the blank is cut to size you need to drill the hole for the tube.  The hole is also dependent on the pen kit and size of the tube.  Take your time to make sure you drill this hole square down the center of the blank.  I’ve ruined a few blanks rushing through this step.

Now that you have a blank with holes in it, it’s time to glue the tubes in.  Start by scuffing the tubes with sandpaper and then glue them in using epoxy or CA glue.

With your tubes glued into your blank, you can now use a pen mill to trim and square the ends of your blanks to the tubes.  The wood should be flush with the tubes.

This is where the fun starts!  Chuck your blank onto the pen mandrel and start turning your pen.  Take your time here since it’s super hard to add wood back after you take it off.  When I turn the pen I’m shooting to have the ends flush with the pen hardware.  Once I have the shape I want I sand through 220, 320, and 400 grits before I apply a finish.

It’s time to make it shine!  I use a CA finish on my pens.  There are other options out there, but this is the only one I’ve tried so far.  I swap out my bushings for non-stick bushings, set the speed as low as I can on the lathe and apply 7 coats of CA.  My first coat is thin and the rest are medium.  I also use CA accelerator to speed up the curing time between coats.

We now have a good layer of CA on the pen that we can now polish up.  I use Micro Mesh polishing pads for this and go from their 600-12000 grit pads.  After I work through all of the grits I use Meguiars PlastX polish to buff the pen out.

With that shiny pen blank in hand, the last step is to assemble the pen.  For this follow the directions from your pen kit.  I use an arbor press for this step since we don’t have a pen press.  Be careful not to use too much force when pressing in the parts as you can easily crack the finish or separate it from the wood.

Making Personalized Pokemon Signs

I won’t claim to understand the Pokemon thing, but I do understand that our kids and their friends go nuts over them.  We thought it would be cool to make a little something for some great friends that are also Pokemon maniacs.  We wanted to do something unique that you can’t just go out and pickup at Target and decided to go the personalized route.

To get started we needed to find a good Pokemon font.  We found what we were looking for at http://www.dafont.com/pokemon.font

Next, we took a Pokemon card to Home Depot to match the colors.  We found some quarts of paint on clearance for $1.98 and had cans of blue and yellow mixed up.

Once we had the paint ready to go it was time to cut out the names.  We went with 1/2″ MDF because it’s easy to cut and it’s thick enough to give them dimension.  The thickness also lets them stand up on their own.  After using spay adhesive to apply the printouts of the names, we cut them on the band saw (you could use a jig saw or scroll saw if you have them).

After the names were cutout, we sanded all the edges, primed them, and painted the yellow base coat.  We then covered the letters with painters tape and used the original paper names to cutout the areas to be painted blue and then finished the paint job.

To see how we made the signs checkout the video below.