Making a Band Less Slim Line Pen

Written by Joe Agrella

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Step 1:   First let's select a nice pen blank. I will use a iron wood blank. Any blank about 5 ½  should do fine. Such as the one pictured here.

Step 2:Next we need to determine the size of the top and the bottom barrels. I tried to use the standard lengths of the normal slim line pen. Only difference was I allowed an extra 1/8" on the top barrel, thinking it would make up the difference of the center band. Resulting pens didn't seem to be in balance. Although pen looks great! You may wish to do some experimenting.

Step 3:I have made the top the standard length of the slim line tube plus allow a 1/8" for what the center ring would have used. See the marked blank above. I made the bottom the standard length of a slim line pen, the length of the 7mm tube.

Bottom tube 1/4" LongerSince these first few pens I have cut the 1/8 " extra allowance down to 1/16" and added ¼" to the bottom barrel. I have done this by cutting the bottom 7mm tubes ¼" longer. Anything longer starts to add drag to the transmissions. Here is a picture of the tubes.

Step 4:    Now its time to cut the blank. I cut mine on a band saw. I then took the pieces to my drill press and drilled 7mm holes through each piece. Did this the normal way in my pen vise. Except that after drilling the hole for the top barrel I left the blank in my drilling vise and installed the step drill (see below) and drilled out the hole for where the bottom barrel will slide into the top barrel.

 Again  after some suggestions from other pen makers I have adjusted the top and bottom barrels. I have shortened the top barrel about a 1/8"and added 1/4" to the bottom barrel. I cut the brass tube for the bottom barrel 1/4" longer. Seems to make a better balanced pen.


Next using one of these Step-Drill Bits I proceed to drill using the 7mm hole as a pilot. I take mine down to the 5/32 mark. You can also use a regular drill bit, say 5/32 to drill this hole. I like the taper that the step drill makes. You can experiment to find out what works best for you.

It is not necessary to use a step bit to drill your bigger hole. You could use say a 5/32 bit also. Using the tube hole you drilled first as the pilot hole. I like the taper that the step bit gives the top barrel. Someone mentioned that these bits were rather expensive but you can get a set of 3 at harbor freight for $10.00.


Step 5: Note that I drilled the big hole before I glued the tubes in. After sanding my 7mm tubes I proceed to glue the tubes in. I use CA and allow enough time for it to set up good and hard.

I insert the tube in the opposite end to the large hole. I push it down just past the opening. Looking in the large end you will see the tube protrude a bit into the big hole. If by chance this later interferes with the lower barrel you can use the bit again and re-drill the hole. It will remove the tube protruding into the large hole. Experiment

Net you will need to square up the ends. I have found this method to work the best. Since the larger end of the top barrel is rather large I don't have a pen mill that should work so using the sanding disc is ideal. With practice you can get  a good flat even surface.

Now you may say how am I going to turn this
down and get to the right size.

Step 6:  I am going to use this setup. Basically I have been using is a 7mm Bushing on each end and a designer bushing in the center.  


Step 7: The key here is the center bushing. It is from a European 7mm Pen bushing set. I use the standard 7mm bushing on the outer ends. Note that the whole center European is used, the larger ring slipped over the slightly smaller bushing.


The key here is the center bushing that helps me get the top barrel formed correctly. I now use one of these Bushing's to cut the top barrel. It also helps get the end round. The pre-drilled hole is the same size as the bushing that the larger one slides over and fits into this hole. It is now easier to make and keep it round. These are normally used in making designers or Europeans.

  I will try to get some picture inserted here soon to show you how this works. I like it because you can slide it into the upper barrel a little ways and it allows you turn a round barrel. Before using this I found that sometimes the large end was not rounded but oblong. I also found using a adjustable mandrill worked great with this setup. I did not have to use many additional spacers.

Close-up of the bushing installed on finished turned pen.





Notice on left side the sleeve. That part slides into the top barrel and you then turn down the remaining sleeve.



Pen on Mandrell


This is a picture of the designer bushing that I used first. I just used the CENTER bushing. This will help you shape the top to the right proportions. It helps me tremendously. Click on the picture it should take you to the link to purchase a set. Remember that I use 7mm slim line bushing for the top and bottom ends.

      Step 8: As you turn the pen you can shape the top barrel as you like down to the center bushing and tapered to the 7mm bushing on the other end. The upper end of the lower barrel, the end that will go into the larger opening on the top barrel, must be tapered down, I start about a 1/4 of a inch in and taper it down to and a hair lower then the center bushing. Till you can judge it I just take it off the mandrel and try it. If it doesn't fit I put it back on and turn it some more. When you got it right do your sanding and finishing.

Step 9:  Now you can remove the pen barrels and assemble the pen.

The finished product. I am finding that I really enjoy making this style and It is very popular with my customers. Your comments are invited. Comment here: If you need any help please email  me

I would like to display pens made by others here on my site and on these pages. Please email them to me with permission to use them.

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