Fountain Pen Making update 8

So, the lathe broke this week. The small wheel that comes directly out of the motor was spinning, but the large wheel which drives the main axle with one set of gear wheels on wasn’t spinning and in turn the axle that drives the chuck wasn’t spinning. I figured the belt from the motor to the first axle was worn and looking at it the wheel was just slipping. So I stopped the machine and in the interim came up with a solution. I turned the belt inside out so the unworn would be gripped by the wheels, it worked but I am not sure whether this was advisable and I then informed my boss we need a new belt. It seemed to work and I have the lost power back.

I finished another pen this week and started working on two others. The one I finished I am very proud of and I am definitely keeping for myself. It has pretty much turned into my pocket pen if I am honest. The pictures I have don’t do it justice. The cap was made from a Conway Stewart blank which I accidentally snapped and didn’t want to waste, the barrel is an Omas blank that I love. I was devastated when the Conway Stewart blank snapped and I had to sit down with some time alone and think whether I had it in me to continue down this path if breaking another blank affected me that much. I came to the conclusion that I had come to far to give up. So I got up and made the pen which I am so very proud of. There is one thing missing though, no clip or roll stop.

So I have had a go at putting a clip on a broken blank I had. Yeah, it didn’t work. I mean I understand the principle, you pick a clip with an outside diameter the same as your cap, you then cut the cap and drill the cut part. You thread the hole and you then make a corresponding part on the rest of the cap that can be threaded into the hole. Between these two pieces you sandwich the clip with the optional extra of glue making sure that the glue doesn’t react badly with the material before hand. Same principle with roll stops, you get something with a stud, drill a small hole, if able you thread it in but if you can’t you can use glue. I don’t know what I did wrong but could I get the two sections to thread together, nope. I was using a course tap and die set which I had available so I am not sure if that is the reason.

I have been practicing with different shapes on the pens as you know. So far these shapes have all been based on a cylinder so they are relatively easy to turn. I wanted to make a demonstrator for my mum as a birthday present and I had some clear blue Omas blanks (she really likes blue) and I wanted to try something a bit different. I figured if I used the file I have I could try and make the end of the barrel look like a gem or something. So a more square or angular shape. You can’t really see it in the picture but I tried. In person it looks and feels very cool, just gotta figure out what to make the cap out of now. I should have some standard blue blanks turning up soon so I am going to see how they look together, if not that then black.

I have started another green pen with a thin blank I got my fingers on, it’s casein so it is very brittle so I am not holding up much hope but I have done the barrel and it is very thin. I managed to drill and thread the barrel but I have enough to make a matching cap. Thing is I have a feeling if I try to make the cap it will go utterly wrong. You see the diameter of the cylinder once it is turned down from a square is 12.7mm, the tap and die I have been using for the caps thus far is 13mm… see my problem? I am tempted to try and use the course taps and dies from the set my boss bought but I am not sure they will be any good. Maybe dropping the threads down to 10 or 12mm. That would mess up my plans but it might be worth it for one pen as an experiment.

But what are these plans? What is my end game? Truth is that I have no idea. I have only thought of this as a hobby thus far, I mean I can’t afford a lathe of my own and doubt I ever will be able too. I would love to be able to sell them but I have no idea about how to go about that, hell I don’t even know if anyone would want to pay for them, I have never been very confident in my own abilities with anything I do. I was hoping to go to the pen show in London this weekend to get a feel for what people like about their pens and maybe talk to any custom pen makers that turned up but alas I cannot go, family commitments and all. It sucks as I know Konrad from KWZ inks will be there and I love my KWZ inks.

Oh yeah, I finished my wife’s pen, Conway Stewart casein blank for the barrel and an alumilite black blank for the cap.

I did have some other things to say but I left my notes that I make over the week at work. Those notes will have to wait until next week I guess.

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