Penmaking articles Penmaking Tips
Secret Compartment Key Chain

Secret Compartment Key Chain

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

Parts for the key chain.

Securing the tube
I use a thick superglue to secure the tube in the blank. I have had good luck with this method over the years. However, I have noticed that occasionally the tubes do come loose and require re-gluing.
Recent advances in adhesive technology have produced different glues that other pen makers are using with excellent results. One such product is the new group of polyurethane adhesives. They are even being touted as a “stick to anything” glue! I have not used them, so I can’t really comment on their effectiveness; but enough people are using them for me to seriously consider doing so myself.
Thread the tube onto the tube insertion tool, apply the glue, and push it into position in the blank. I always stand the blank vertically on my workbench until the glue sets–about 15 minutes should do it.
Trim off any excess material on the chop saw, cutting up to, but not touching, the brass tube. Remove any glue that might have seeped into the ends of the tube with a sharp pen knife.
I always like to flood the two surfaces that show the veneers with superglue to bond any of the joints that might have separated because of the heat generated during drilling. I use the thin superglue for this task.

The blank is mounted on the lathe mandrel with 1mm
bushings. Extra bushings are used to fill out the
remaining length of the mandrel.

Locate the center of the ends of the blank and drill a 10mm hole
through the blank using the drill press.

Mounting the blank on the lathe
Because the tubes are hollow, a mandrel system must be used to mount the blank on the lathe. I like to keep the turnings as close to the headstock of the lathe as possible and I use any extra bushings to “fill out” the remaining unused length of the mandrel bar. I think this eliminates much of the vibration that leads to chatter. This chatter tends to produce turnings that aren’t very smooth and that are difficult to sand.

Once the blank is securely mounted on the mandrel, I begin the turning process with a sharp roughing gouge. I turn the blank until it just comes into “round” and all the flat spots have been removed. Hopefully, the outside diameter of the blank will fall somewhere close to 5/8" in diameter. If it doesn’t, you can simply turn it into a smooth cylinder whose outside diameter matches that of the end bushings. This is certainly better than throwing away the blank and starting over–after all, someone will eventually purchase it!
I remove the key chain blank from the lathe at this point and I make sure that the brass tube is perpendicular to the wood. I do this on the disc sander. Be sure to support the blank with a mitre gauge and be careful

I use thick superglue to secure the tube in the blank. Be sure to
“rough up” the shinny tube with a small piece of 120-grit abrasive
paper before applying the glue—it sticks better.

.... Continue

<Previous 1, 2, 3, Next>

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...