Penmaking articles Penmaking Tips


by Joseph M. Herrmann of Timber Treasures
Reprinted by permission from Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine

Once I had all the scratches cleared away, I removed the blank from the mandrell. I carefully inspected the project and noticed that a few scratches were left on the ends, right up next to the bushings. I hand sanded these areas with a small piece of abrasive paper to remove any remaining flaws.
I have discovered that, a lot of times, burl wood can be very "punky" and will absorb a lot of oil. Therefore, I altered my finishing routine somewhat. I still applied a light coat of Danish oil to the blank because I like the way it uniformly darkens the wood. But then, with the lathe running, I applied a heavy coat of a lacquerbased finish (called Deft) to the wood with a cloth. I let it dry on the lathe for about 5 minutes and then I applied another heavy coat. Just be careful not to allow lumps to form on the surface of the finish; they are difficult to remove.
I allowed the finish to dry for about an hour, then I buffed the wood using the three-step buffing process that I have detailed in other articles. The first wheel is charged with a Tripoli compound. Because the Tripoli is slightly abrasive, it will remove any superficial scratches that might remain on the wood. The second wheel is charged with a White Diamond compound that removes any excess Tripoli and begins the polishing process. The third wheel is charged with Carnuba Wax, which polishes the project to a high shine.

There are a lot of parts that must be assembled to complete the project. Take it slow and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and you won’t have any problems. I started with the eyepiece first. Remove the rounded lens from the tape enclosure and place it into the proper position. Put the metal split ring on top of the lens and screw in the tube. Don’t bottom out the tube; screw it in about halfway. Start from the smaller end of the egg and carefully insert the entire assembly into the drilled hole.
Remove the protective film from both surfaces of the two flat lenses. I found that the sharp point of an X-acto hobby knife worked best to lift the corner of the film without scratching the surfaces of the lenses.
Place one of these lenses into the “objective” end cap of the kit. Next, put the cardboard ring on top of the lens and fill it with the colored plastic “jewels” that are supplied. Don’t pack it full; space must be left to allow the jewels to move into different positions as the kaleidoscope is rotated. You will have to experiment a little to find the right mix.
When you look at the mirrors, you will see that one surface has a dark line drawn on it. This surface must be facing to the outside of the tube. Carefully slide the mirrors into the tube, forming an equilateral triangle. This should be easy to do; if you have any problems, stop and rearrange the mirrors until they are inserted properly. Whatever you do, DON’T FORCE THEM INTO POSITION!
Screw the objective cap into position and rotate both caps, a little at a time, until they are tightened down evenly. Point the scope toward the light and rotate it to change the image. Once you are satisfied with the mix of stones, turn off the TV and pass your kal-egg-oscope around to your friends and family in your parlor. Enjoy the sights!

Fig. 4. Square up the ends of the block with a small detail gouge.

Fig. 5. Draw a line 7/8" away from the headstock end of the lathe to indicate where the beads will start.

Fig. 6. Use a sharp spindle gouge to form the beads.

Fig. 7. The shape should resemble an egg when it is completed.

This article reprinted by permission from Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine

<Previous 1, 2, 3,
The makers of Creative Woodworks & Crafts magazine are launching a brand new woodturning publication in February of 2004. The magazine's title is Woodturning Design. It will be 100 color pages and will cover all aspects and skill levels of woodturning. The editor will be the very talented Joe Herrmann, who designed the pens in this article. For more information, visit

On we provide you with pen making instruction and tips to make a satisfying hobby even more enjoyable. You will find a complete line of Pen making kits, supplies and turning tools on If there's something you can't find just send us an email and we'll be glad to point you in the right direction. Don't forget to stop by our wood working craft site

You may also be interested in our Clock Parts and Clock Making Supplies...