The Art of Turning Pens

Connecticut / Nov. 15, 2012 / by Steven
The Art of Turning Pens

Making things with your own hands brings a sense of accomplishment that cannot be found doing many other things. There is a sense of ownership and pride that occurs when you not only create something, but you also use what you have made. While I was at home the past couple of weeks I had the opprortunity to learn how to turn a pen. My teacher was Jess's father and he was gracious enough to take me into his shop and show me the art of turning while letting me make my first custom pen.

A pen is turned from pen blanks which are pieces of wood, acryllic, corian, and any other material you can think of that has been cut into a rectangular block. The blanks are drilled through the middle to create a column to glue in the pens inner tube that will hold the ink cartridge as well as provide the stability and ends for the pen kit.

The blanks are then set onto the lathe and by using different cutting tools the process of slowly shaving away the material begins. This being my first pen, I was slow. Thankfully Jess's dad was an awesome teacher who had the patience to show me each step and humor my hundreds of questions.

Once you get down to the pen shape you are going for, it is time to start the sanding and polishing process. I chose some acryllic blanks so my shavings were really stringy and the material is a little harder to turn than wood. (Picture below.) Jess turned a wood pen and the shavings are much smaller. 

After sanding and polishing the pen is ready to be removed and assembled. 

The process is simple and yet there is so much skill required to turn a really great pen. Jess's dad helped me with the upper portion by showing me how to taper in the edges really well and get a nice shape. When it came time for me to try and mimic that on the lower end I came up a little short but I was extremely pleased with my work. I am really excited to continue making pens and get better at my skills.

If you have any interest about turning pens, woodworking, or just working with your hands in general, check out the forum Jess's dad runs at It is an awesome site with tons of information and people doing some really awesome projects.