Wow, a lot has happened this week. I have learned a tonne and I want to share it all with you. I welcome questions and feedback about the following posr.
* pen making
I took a giant leap in my pen making this week. At the end of last week I ordered a pressure pot and air compressor. This is how the pressure pot [arrived](https://i.imgur.com/cYReimV.jpg) and [here](https://i.imgur.com/THAW80B.jpg) it is set up in my workshop. The compressor is actually for an airbrush, and when I bought them both I had to buy other things to go with them. I did some research so I knew that the air in pipe for the pressure pot was 1/4bsp connection and the air out on the compressor was 1/8bsp, luckily I managed to find an air line which had the right connections without any additional gubbins. On top of that I needed some ptfe tape, this is used to seal threads when dealing with air or water connections, it’s a really thin really smooth tape which doesn’t seem sticky at all but clings to the threads well enough to fill any gaps once things are screwed in place. So for anyone that wants to set themselves up with making their own blanks I am putting a list of things you will need to get:
* Pressure pot – you can use a paint spray pot and convert it or you can do what I did and buy an already converted one, my one has a 10L capacity which seems to be the smallest.
* Compressor – you only need a small one but make sure it has a tank on it, some of them come without tanks. These are noisy machines however you can get quiet ones, quiet ones are usually more expensive.
* Air line – this is simply a tube which can handle the pressures involved with the correct connections on either end for your pot and compressor.
* PTFE tape – You will need this for the threads going into the pressure pot and coming out of the compressor, if you don’t use this you will never get your pot to pressure, I tried.
* Some sort of mold – Silicone molds are easiest to use as the resin I was using doesn’t stick to it. Some require that you use a mold release spray.
Once you got those you need your resin and mixing supplies, there are bucket loads of different types and brands. They all have a part A and part B, you mix these together and it causes a reaction in the chemicals which then harden, the pressure is used to shrink the air bubbles created while mixing. Some colours and some powders, most epoxy resins are clear so you will need these if you want colourful blanks. I went with brown, red and yellow with a small jar of pearlescent powder, the brand of epoxy resin I use is Alumilite Clear Cast, which has a working time of 30 minutes and a curing time of 24 to 48 hours.
So having got all of this stuff I jumped right in. I had looked at various videos online and I thought I knew what I was doing, how was that for a foreboding statement? Yeah, so I thought I knew what I was doing. I mixed the stuff by weight in my shed, it was a bit cold but not uncomfortable. The compressor worked and got to the right pressures. I asked around with other pen makers on instagram and yeah everything was fine. So I mixed the resin and I mixed the two parts together quite vigorously I mixed the three colours together and filled the molds to the line as indicated. I thought it was easy enough so I put them in the pot and ramped up the pressure then left them. Little did I know I had cocked up big time. Got some nice blanks out of it though, [check these out](https://i.imgur.com/PlIZxwS.jpg).
So where did I go wrong? Well when I got the blanks out they were so so soft. I did some extra research and discovered I had made some errors which affected the finished product drastically:
* temperature – the resin is affected by temperature very easily, I should have mixed the resin somewhere a lot warmer, I had no heating in my workshop. On the second attempt I mixed them in my kitchen, this fixed the problem.
* I mixed by weight rather than volume – unlike a lot of alumilite mixes the one I was using requires you to mix a and b in the same volume so 30ml of part a and 30ml of part b to make 60ml of resin. This is because the different parts have different masses and therefore you get an uneven mix when doing it by weight. Getting an equal mix made so much differnce.
* I mixed vigorously – I should have tried to avoid putting too much air in the mix, I should have folded it together like you would do when mixing something into a merengue mix or a mousse. Changing the mixing I was doing helped a lot.
I only had to leave the second batch for 24 hours before it was done and it came out looking so much [better](https://i.imgur.com/XUkTdnv.jpg). So I had 4 blanks, 2 soft and 2 hard. I was so excited I whacked them straight in the lathe and started [turning](https://i.imgur.com/f2hIocS.jpg). I ended up with something I am very proud of. Here is the soft one with [cap on](https://i.imgur.com/Nq5aXdA.jpg) and [off](https://i.imgur.com/FSxCejg.jpg), when I say soft I mean it too, when I was turning it the drill almost caused the blank to melt, it got all bendy. One cool thing though it the material ended up [translucent](https://i.imgur.com/RjvG3H2.jpg).
The second pen came out much better. I love the blanks for this one, I tried to make an orange but I put in too much red so it didn’t really work, you can see some on the cap. Here it is [capped](https://i.imgur.com/1smObcY.jpg) and [uncapped](https://i.imgur.com/0HKqZdy.jpg). The next blanks I am going to make are going to be bright, bright yellow, and I am going to get some more colours and resin when I get paid next week.
The other thing I had a go on was ink windows! I got hold of some clear blanks when I ordered my mold and I cut some off turning it down to the correct width of a pen. I had some blanks I wanted to use and I figured I would give ink windows a go. Well it came out very [well](https://i.imgur.com/rx628AF.jpg), and cap [off](https://i.imgur.com/MtcYnWg.jpg). How did I do it? I didn’t use glue, I hate using glue, It’s all [threaded](https://i.imgur.com/T8s5JbL.jpg). I made female threaded joins in both sides of the barrel I cut and I put male threads on either side of the clear part and just screwed them together. The advantage of this is simple, if the pen barrel is filled with ink and it needs a deep clean all you have to do is unscrew it and clean the individual parts. Should make cleaning a lot easier, I still need to test the barrel for water tightness though. That will get done when I have polished it up.
Any comments and questions are welcome.
Anyway that is it for this week, take care everyone, stay safe and have a good weekend.
Anyways as usual you can follow me on instagram [@denscustompens](https://www.instagram.com/denscustompens/7 )