One of the things most people who start a hobby find out is that it quickly becomes a large hole you try to fill with money as your interest expands. Although this is true of many hobbies, it is especially true when it comes to woodworking. For example I have already exceeded the price of my Jet Midi-lathe with the purchase of accessories for it and for the things I make on it.
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When I decided to try my hand at making pens out of wood I found I just had to have more tools and accessories. One of these was a pen press. When you buy a kit to make a pen, pencil, key chain, or several other things that are surrounded by a circular piece of wood, you will find that the parts have to be pressed into a brass tube that has been glued inside that piece of wood before it is shaped on your lathe. I could have used a regular vise or even a hand clamp to do this, but I opted for a dedicated pen press from Craft Supplies. I have not been disappointed in this decision.
Craft Supplies Pen Press
A pen making kit comes in several pieces, most of which ultimately have to be pressed into a brass tube to make the pen work. These pieces are usually of some precious metal and are rather delicate. They also require quite a bit of pressure applied exactly at right angles to seat well. The Craft Supplies Pen Press suits this task very well. It consists of a plastic base holding a sliding rod at one end and a lever action rod at the other. The lever has a long handle which removes easily (just slide it off) for storage. The handle has a rubber grip for comfort. The end of the lever has a round metal tip that can be adjusted some by turning a nut on its shaft which is threaded. The long sliding rod has a round plastic end that has an indentation located at its center for holding a pen tip. The rod slides back and forth by loosening a knob. It has a sloped flat spot for the knob’s screw to engage to hold it solidly. The maximum opening will accommodate a pen up to seven inches long.
Since the parts are delicate, they recommend covering the metal end with something like leather or cardboard. I use cardboard and double-sided tape since the sharp edges of some of the pen parts cut into the material. It is easy to replace and cheap. This tool is well made and serves its purpose admirably.
A pen kit has a point or nib that must be pressed into the bottom end of the bottom half of the pen. You align the tip so it is starting to enter the brass tube, place the tip in the indentation of the plastic side of the press, set the length of the sliding rod and tighten the knob. You bring the metal end of the lever (with something covering it) up against the other end of the lower pen tube and then pull the lever smoothly until the nib is fully seated. The next part is the receiver for the pen cartridge; it has threads that can be easily damaged so care must be taken to protect them, thus the cardboard. It is likewise pressed into the other end of the bottom tube after adjusting the sliding rod again.
The top part of the pen has a decorative metal ring that covers the exposed metal of the bottom part. It is glued onto the top part. Then the other end of the top part has a receiver for the clip that has to be pressed into the top tube brass. Once the two parts are assembled the top must be pressed onto the bottom to complete the pen.
Although a regular vise could be used it would be more cumbersome. Some folk use a quick clamp that is long enough but this also is cumbersome. I made around forty pens and pencils for Christmas this year. The dedicated pen press is definitely a time saver
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