George Vondriska

Pen Turning Tips and Tricks

George Vondriska
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Duration:   18:01   mins

Pen turning on a lathe is a lot of fun, and it’s not a difficult process. This video gives you everything you need to know to get started making pens in your shop.

Why pens?

Pens make great gifts. Graduations, birthdays, weddings…Everyone will have your pens on their wish list. Want to bring a little revenue into your shop? Nicely made pens are easy to sell.

What do you need?

Pen turning kits are available from a variety of sources, and are easy to find online.

The process

Once you have the pen kit you’re ready to make or buy your pen blanks. Check the kit’s instructions for info on how big the blank should be. Pens provide a great way to use up those tiny scraps in your shop.

Next step, drill the correct size hole in your blanks (hole size will be provided in the instructions), glue in the brass barrels, and use the pen mill to trim the blanks and barrels. Then you’re ready to turn.

Final diameter of the blanks is determined by the pen kit-specific bushings you put on the mandrel. Other than hitting that diameter, you’re free to be creative with your turning. When you’ve got a shape you like, sand and finish. George commonly uses a shop-made finish made up of ⅓ each shellac, boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. Read the directions for the correct sequence of assembling your pen.

More on turning

Lathe turning is SO much fun. We have lots of content on this topic. Be sure to have a look at our other woodturning videos.

More info

For more info on Ultra Shear woodturning tools, visit

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7 Responses to “Pen Turning Tips and Tricks”

  1. John Elliott

    Newer to Pen turning, great video by the way. My question is on the finish you used. I have been using wax but that isn’t going to stay on long with any heavy handling. The ⅓ each shellac, boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits, this must obviously hold up pretty well if you are using that. How does this hold up with heavy use?

  2. Michael Wright

    Woodpeckers tools are nice but not really the best as well as overpriced. Easy Wood makes the best Carbide tools thus far. YOu can still use HSS if you wish.

    • Customer Service

      Hello Alec,

      Another great question, here is Paul’s reply:

      A hack saw should work fine for this.

      Woodworkers Guild of America

    • Michael Wright

      Most supplies provide already cut to size tubes for most kits. AS well some sell colored tubes for the plastics.

    • John Elliott

      I have tried all sorts of ways to cut the tubes. Because they are so thin they can rip them apart pretty easily. I have been using a small handheld hacksaw that worked okay. A few weeks ago I bought a small tubing cutter for brass and copper, also a deburr tool to take off any edges. Worked pretty good that way.

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