Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Pen is Mightier than the Word

 As far as creative titles go, I've much had better.  I know.  I'll apologize.

Still, this was a basic "pen kit" build.  There's nothing fancy about it.  I wanted something woodsy, minimalist, and also stylish.  That's an eclectic mishmash of categories thrown together.  I like the bulky, hefty feel of the stainless steel, solid, gentlemens' pens (I threw away the brass tube and just machined a complete tube out of stainless steel).  They are awesome.

But I was in the mood for something more slim-line like.  I also love the thin pens that are light (and often too mobile in the form of theft from someone else that wants it).  So, I went with the Saxa EDC gunmetal pen and pencil kits.  They looked about right for the slim-line (with a bit more style).

For the color, I chose a stabilized, dyed, green box elder burl blank.  This is a real wood that has been dyed and treated under pressure with stabilization chemicals to prevent it from exploding.  [... ominous foreboding ...]

With the parts in hand, I went to work.  The blanks were cut to length, then drilled with a 7mm hole (like the instructions say to).  I epoxied the brass tubes into the freshly drilled blanks and let them cure.  They were then barrel trimmed to get them ready for the lathe.

 On the lathe, I whipped through my first one in short order.  This felt like a walk in the park.  [... more ominous foreboding ...]

The second one... not so much.  Once on the lathe, as I was turning it down, my heart skipped a beat when a "snap" rattled through my bones and my ears picked up the echo of larger pieces of wood hitting the wall and then the floor.

When I stopped the lathe to get a better picture of how badly the tool dug in, catching, and causing the blank to shatter, I had a thought.  Incidentally, this is also when I decided to record this because I was going to try and re-assemble the pieces.  (Usually, you just cut the broken blank off the tube, clean the tube up, and then start with another blank - but I had only ordered two blanks, enough for two pens, and I had no spares.)

On the left above is the blank/barrel that was completed quickly and effortlessly.  On the right was the snapped one (you can see the brass sneaking through it in the middle, slightly toward the top).

In the middle was a small sample of mica powder used to color (or dye) epoxy resins for crafts.  I'd purchased this to work on the table, back when trying to get a good selection for the girls to choose the color from.  Anyhow, I grabbed the closest color I could find (which doesn't look close here because of the reflection on the container, but honestly, I struggled to find the fix later).

I mixed up some 5-minute, clear epoxy (same stuff I glued the blanks to the barrel with), and mixed in a small sample of the mica powder.

Once it had set up (I gave it an hour, just to be sure, even though a full cure is 24 hours with this stuff), I threw it back on the lathe and carefully finished turning it down.  Finish is the standard sanding (lots of fine sanding to get to a good finish), and then applying superglue as the gloss coat.  I usually keep the lathe running after it's applied and let it set up.  Then, I just use some furniture wax to give it the final polish.

I pulled the barrels in and quickly pressed them together.  I took the broken one (well, repaired one) outside just to see how bad it looked :

Not bad at all!  I don't think you'd ever know, unless you read this or I told you.

I really like these writing implements!

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