Mesquite Firewood Navigator Rollerball Pen

Last September my friend and I purchased a used lathe that came with tons of turning tools as well as boxes and bags of miscellaneous turning related kits and accessories. Since then I’ve only put it to use for a few minor tasks that were always part of a larger project. I was a little apprehensive turning bowls and pens because I knew I would get sucked into this sub-woodworking hobby that is nearly as encompassing. I finally made the plunge and turned a few bowls and pens and boy was I right, I’m addicted.

Pen Turning Challenge

James Green approached me late last year to discuss promotion & sponsorship for his pen turning challenge and I jumped on the band wagon and even provided some prizes. The 2016 Stress Free Woodworks pen turning challenge is what really pushed me over the edge to get started. IMG_0927After getting the lathe I went though everything and found that I had everything needed to make about 50 pens of various styles excluding the actual blanks. If you’ve ever turned a pen you know how many tools, accessories, parts and pieces are involved to make just one pen but when I had enough for 50 or more plus all of the tools and accessories for each, I was overwhelmed. I found help from some of my online woodworking peers that helped guide me through all of the parts and pieces as I sorted out my stash. After understanding what I really needed to use out of my large collection of odds and ends my first pen really wasn’t all that hard to make after all.

Mesquite Firewood

IMG_0963I quickly burned through the few pen blanks that came with my lathe and started making or buying new ones. After bringing my friend Braxton Wirthlin a few hunks of mesquite and seeing the amazing bowls he turned I knew I wanted to get in on that action. After checking out my mesquite pile I picked out a few smaller pieces that would have ended up as firewood and turned them into pen blanks. They were still a little green and wet so I impatiently threw the blanks in the microwave and cooked them a dozen or more times for 30 seconds each over the course of a few days. After the moisture level on my cheap moisture meter stopped dropping I decided it was time and took them to the lathe.

Navigator Rollerball Pen

IMG_0925Many of the kits that came with my used lathe aren’t exactly new and many aren’t even sold anymore. I’ve hard some difficulties figuring out some of the more complex kits and decided to go with one of the rollerball style pens for the challenge. After opening the package up I was throughly confused but no less than 5 minutes later I figured it all out and was ready to start. After turning and finishing the pen I only made one mistake which was easy to recovery from by relocating the spring to the other side of the ink tube. I’ve been surprised that many of these older pen kits still have working ink tubes but even the ones that don’t only require a 2 minute drive to the store for a replacement.

I’ve still got TONS of kits left and now have a pile of beautiful mesquite blanks to make my way through. Many of them have some interesting color as well as worm and other insect holes that I want to fill with different colors of acrylic. I guess that means I need a pressure pot to add to my ever growing collection of tools.


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