I made a sibling to my Chrome Cigar Pen in Maple. With one blank remaining from an order of 5 Maple blanks, I decided to make a Chrome Pencil to match a nice Cigar Pen already posted. The turning was nearly perfect, and the finish came out great. Unfortunately, the pencil part of the kit doesnt work too well.
The Pencil mechanism didn’t fit well from the start, and trying to force it just broke a part of the mechanism. I have to try to find just that piece for a replacement. But for now, it looks like a great matched set for my desk blotter, not not yet for writing.
Has anyone else had trouble with the Cigar pencils? I’d love some pointers.
Here are my first two fountain pens from “Classic” kits from PennState. Top is Rosewood and turned beautifully. It’s got great whirls and figuring in the cap that didn’t quite make it to the photograph.
Middle is White and Black Ebony with very little white grain, but good figuring and a shiny finish. Shellwax on top of three coats of low lustre PPP polish from HUT made this one sing.
The bottom pen is from two IPE Ironwood blanks sent as a bonus from my latest purchase of blanks. They were pre-drilled and cut for 7mm Slimline tubes, so I made a gunmetal Slimline kit. I think it’s one of the prettiest slimline pens that I’ve ever made.
I still need practice getting the tubes just right for the fountain pen caps, as I tend t bring them close to the bushing and they end up just slight on the end. Not yet perfect with those kits.
I’ve never been a huge fan of cedar, but I had a copper Cigar pen and thought that it looked good with a single cedar blank that came from a grab bag at Woodcraft. The Cedar cuts easily and turns beautifully, and the great swirl on the pen cap jumped out during turning.I started using Micro Mesh with this pen, which absolutely made a big impact on the overall finish. I took the wood to 400 grit with traditional sandpaper, then to 4000 with Micromesh. The Cedar probably didn’t need to go to 4000, but I was expirimenting with the new abrasive. Finish is three coats of the low lustre PPP polish with four coats of Shellwax friction polish. On top of such fine sanding, the polish really sparkles.
I’ve done about 25 pens so far, a mix of Slimline, Slimline Pro, Polaris, and Comfort for the most part, but my Classic and Cigar pens have been favorites at the office. I’m finally getting my shapes well defined, and my assembly gets better with each pen.
The 4 Cigar pens listed represent my first 4 attempts. From the top down in order of completion:
Chrome Cigar Pen with unknown wood – started out with a wood blank from a Woodcraft grab bag that looked almost orange. Turning was a breeze and the fit of the kit was great. This is my only PennState kit directly, as the rest come from resellers. Great heft to the pen, and the figuring and grain looks cool open or closed.
Black Titanium on Zebrawood – again from a Woodcraft grab bag. I really like the grain lines of this wood, and it turns great. Tougher to drill well, though. Polish is a PPP low lustre finished with Liquid wax finish.
My only 24kt Gold on Rosewood has been blogged about on this site. I made a rookie mistake and crimped the tip in the pen press during assembly. Now I remove unscrew the tip during assembly.
Latest pen is Maple with great figures on a Chrome pen kit. I’ve gotten such great reaction from this pen that I don’t think I can give it up. Really a great look and the wood comes alive with 6 coats of low then high lustre PPP.
I usually put genuine Parker refills in these pens prior to finish because the kit ink-refil just doesn’t have the smooth flow of the real Parker ink. I recommend that extra expense if you are selling or gifting these pens, too. It’s a bummer to ruin a great looking pen with a lousy writing experience.
I have been turning pens for a few weeks and given a few as gifts around the office. The overall favorite remains the Cigar Pen, a Penn State staple, but also available from Augum’s Pen Works and other vendors.This Cigar Pen in 24 carat gold on very well figured Redwood stock is destined for the desk of a colleague who really liked my first Cigar Pen in chrome. He’s a Gold guy, though, so I just turned this one for his holiday gift.Though it’s a favorite of Penn State Industries, I bought this kit from Wood Turningz, an online retailer who offers anything from the PSI catalog at a discount, as well as other manufacturers. These pen kits were of top quality. I’ve noticed that the quality of the bag hints at the overall quality of the kit. If I can’t open the little parts bags or they are so thin that it’s easier to rip them open, I tend not to like the overall quality of the kit’s fit or finish.The Redwood stock started in a grab bag from my local Woodcraft, and I cut it by hand with my Japanese saw and a miter jig. The Redwood was nicely figured and turned easily. I’m still learning, so most of my work starts and ends with a 1/4″bowl gouge rather than a more exotic selection of chisels. I try to keep the tool sharp, though I am eating up the chisel faster than I would like. Practice should improve my technique.The finish started as CA glue to basically fill some gaps in the grain and essentially seal the wood. I used steel wool to buff out the CA haze, then used PPP satin bar finish for two coats. I finished with three coats of PPP high gloss and pressed so hard for so long that the finish smoked on the rag. It’s very nicely glossed.Assembly posed an interesting challenge, and I made a rookie mistake that I won’t soon forget. I inserted the tip to the lower blank using my pen press, but ended up slighly crushing a ring on the very end of the tip. It’s exactly where the tip stops on the pen press, and normal pressure slightly dented a ring into the gold tip. Not a very noticable problem, but not something I want to see again. From now on, I’m going to unscrew the end of the tip from the flange before I assemble the blank.The kit fit perfectly and I really did a good job taking the wood down to every transition point evenly. My first pens lacked a perfect soft transition from metal kit to wooden shaft, but this one really worked well. I sanded out to 1200 grit and the finish added 6 layers, but I don’t notice any gaps in between parts. I hope my friend at work enjoys his new pen. I doubt I’ll be able to wait until the holidays to give the gift.
As an amateur woodworker frustrated by too many demands of my straight job, I just couldn’t find the time for big projects. As a birthday present, my wife sent me to a Woodcraft class to learn to turn pens. With just a few tools and a little time, anyone can turn a pen. At Write On, we can share stories and photos of our pens, our experiences, and our challenges turning something to write on!