How I make Dip Pens.

Written by Joe Agrella


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Afzelia Afzelia Dip Pen Pink Ivory

This is the method I use to make dip pens. I am sure its not the best way but the easiest for me. As I go along I will probably refine many of the processes I am using now. This certainly is not the only way to do it. Please remember to use safety at all times.

  |---------------------------------------6 1/2"---|--1"-------|

First we need to start with a nice blank. This one is a pink ivory blank. I cut my blanks at 7 inches or a little more. The pen is going to be 6 1/2 inches long the extra inch is so you can hold it with the tail stock for more support.

I have found that when first starting out making these longer pens, it is easier if you start with softer wood that will turn easier (and of course sharp tools helps also). The less pressure you use to cut with the better. Its gets real narrow at the upper end of the pen before you part it off. I used Afzelia for my first few pens. Not only was it easier to turn but I have a large number of blanks 10 inches long!

This is a picture of the Afzelia Blanks that I use. I sell them for $1.50 Each if your are interested. They are 10" long.

Line up to drill hole Next we need to drill a 1/4" hole in the center of the blank. This hole should be at least a inch deep. If you are off a little it won't hurt. This hold is of course where the nib holder will mount and this is where the mandrel is inserted. Try to get the hole drilled straight.

Shown with hold drilled. This is where you will insert the mandrel and later the nib.

Ready to drill. Close Up Shot

I picked up this mini chuck at Harbor Freight on their discount table for $12.95!

You also can use a Jacobs Chuck.

This is a YOYO mandrel I had laying around, but the one from PSI should work also. (Any short 1/4 rod, like a old madrel rod, would work also)

The mandrel will be inserted into the 1/4 inch diameter hole you drilled 1" deep while the your live center butts right up against the other end. Has to be tight.

Here are some shots of the pen blank after I mounted it on the lathe. Its like being turning between centers. Notice my live center right up and digging into the blank.

Next turn the blank round and begin to give it a shape.

After awhile it should begin looking like this

As you turn the smaller end, and its still getting smaller, use a light touch so as not to break the peace. Remember before you part it off you first need to sand it and possibly apply a finish.Here it is almost finished. I have sanded it and put some burn lines on for accent. Next you can apply some finish if you like then using a parting tool carefully part off the pen. I use a small saw. Then you can touch up the end with sandpaper, etc.

Next you will need one of these and one of these

Both are available on my site for purchase.

Notice that the nib holder slides right in the 1/4 inch hole that you drilled to hold the mandrel. Push it all the way down till its flush. Next insert the nib. Presto you are done! If I didn't apply any finish before parting off the pen, then I take it to my buffing wheel and using white diamond I polish it to a high sheen. Then I apply several coats of Renaissance Wax.

Picture of end pushed flush.

This is the finished pen ready to go. If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to contact me.