Pen Question: how do you cut custom center bands?

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Badabing

Joe
Corporate Member
I mistakenly stumbled onto the option of making a custom center band for a pen*. I used a 2 inch piece of ebony, glued in a brass tube, turned it down to the diameter of the pen and then tried to cut slices off it (about the width of a standard center band). Well, this didn't work so good on the band saw or by hand. The ebony chipped, and none of them were uniform in width.

Anybody do something like this before and have some advice for me? Only alternative that comes to mind is cut the band before turning it and include it on the mandrel with the blanks so everything is turned/finished at the same time. Thoughts???


*How did this happen, you ask? :wsmile: I was making a slimline pen for my mother-in-law and accidentally used a Euro bushing in the middle of the blanks on the mandrel. I should have realized but I haven't made any slimlines for awhile so the mistake slipped by right up until the point I was assembling the pen :icon_scra:eusa_doh: Instead of trashing the whole thing, it occurred to me that I could make a center band that matched the center diameters of the barrels and the whole thing would fit together nicely. I did get one that worked well enough, so my MIL will have her pen. But there's got to be a better way!
 

Splinter

New User
Dolan Brown
Joe,

I glue the center band material to the pen blank material before I drill for the tube. I try to cut the center band material just a little wider than I want the finished band so that when I trim the end with the pen mill it will be the width I want. The ends of the center band and the pen blank need to be square to each other when you glue them together so the center band will be the same size all the way around after the blank is turned to size.

There are probably other ways to do this but this is the way I do it. Maybe others here will provide other options.
 

Badabing

Joe
Corporate Member
Thanks Splinter! That's a good idea if I understand you correctly. So the center band doesn't actually have a brass tube in it, it's just sort of an extension of that half of the pen blank?
 

DaveO

New User
DaveO
Joe, there are several ways of using custom center bands. The first is what Dolan mentioned above and that is the way that I do the majority of mine. The key to success with that method is being able to drill plumb and square through the blank. And if you are making a laminated CB add some extra thickness to the lamination layer that will meet the pen mill, so you don't make it too thin.
For design modification CBs, ie. blow-out repair. It is best to part down to the tube. Cut a section of wood that you would like to use for the CB, drill it out with the same bit you drilled the blank and glue it on the bare tube. Pen mill the end again to square it up to the tube.
For cutting small segements or thin strips to use as CB stock I use a table saw sled. It works just like a mini-crosscut sled, but has one added feature. I took a block of wood, beveled one end at 45°. Then I glued this block to the base of the sled so the blade would cut it just behind the top ridge of the bevel. This leaves a flat surface for your stock to sit on and a 45° beveled surface for the thin off cut to slide down and away from the blade. Before I made this sled 3 in 5 off-cuts would hit the blade and get damaged or fly off to some recess of the shop where I'll never find them. Personally I really like using custom CBs in my pens especially the Euro kits. It adds more wood and less metal, and makes them much easier to turn, you are in control of the center width. The end result is a pen that is unique, for not much extra work -




HTH,
Dave:)
 

Badabing

Joe
Corporate Member
Thanks to Splinter, DaveO, and Skye, I have some great ideas for future center bands :icon_thum

BTW, well done documentation Skye :eusa_clap
 
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