Making the Section

Safety guidelines: Got long hair? Tie it back. Long sleeves? pull them up and secure them. Rings, other jewelry? Take them off, wedding bands too. Goggles over your eyes? Good, if not, get them. Got a long beard? Guess what, tie it back. Just as a side note, if you hurt yourself doing any of this don’t blame me all machines are different and you need to know your machine before continuing. If some of what you read won’t work on your machine, don’t do it. When it is relevant you may need a full face shield. Please use common sense when using your own tools, please don’t hurt yourself.

Equipment needed

  • Lathe
  • Lathe tools
  • Centre Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Taps/Dies
  • Steel Bristle Brush
  • Lubrication/Cooling Fluid
  • Files
  • Digital Vernier Callipers
  • Live centre

Well, now you have a barrel and all the threading on that part is done. So what do you thread into the barrel? Well the section of course. This is the part of the pen which will hold the nib unit. I use Bock #6 nib units at the moment so I will be explaining from that point of view. If you use another nib unit such as a schmidt or Jowo then use the measurments and drills relevant for you.

Some pen makers prefer to make the section first as the size of the section and nib unit you are using dictates how big the barrel and cap need to be. As I tend to work in standard measurments I already know how deep i need to drill into the section and how big the cap needs to be.

For my own personal work I know that with a 25mm section the nib will protrude another 25mm into the cap and at it’s widest point a bock #6 nib is 7mm. With these measurements I know that the converter extends 74mm into the barrel and has a thread size of 10mm x 0.75. Using this I can work out the length of a pen if a client would like a shorter section and therefore smaller cap or a shorter barrel and therefore larger cap.

Once you have your nib unit and the correct taps for the threads on it it is time to make the acrylic or other material narrow enough for the section. I try to match the section diameter up with the threads of the barrel for the cap to screw onto. There are however some things you need to keep in mind when making a section, these are pretty obvious things but quite important.

  • The section must be narrow enough to allow the cap to screw on properly.
  • The section must me comfortable to hold when writing.
  • The section must have some way of giving the writer a warning that their fingers are slipping close to the nib, be this a raised section, a change in angle or even an engraving.
  • The section must have a snug fit for the nib unit to restrict leakage.
  • The section must support the converter or cartridge if that is it’s filling system.

That is your very basic design premise for each section you make, as long as it meets those criteria then it will be fine.

So, take your piece of acrylic and turn it down to approximately 11mm diamter. You also want the section to be approximately 30mm long. This gives you 25mm for the grip section and 5mm for the threads. You can go deeper on the threads if you like but i know some users do not like to have to do too many turns when it comes to threaded portions of your pen.

While it is still attached to the main part of the blank turn the last 5mm or so down to a thickness which is ready to take the corresponding thread as used on the barrel.

Threaded and ready for the next stage

For mine I use a 10mm x 0.75 thread for the section to go into the barrel. So this means that for my sections i will be turning them down to 9.8mm ready to take the thread from the die. This ensures a tight thread with little wobble.

Take your die and thread the end of the section. Once this is threaded test the thread using a pre tapped collar, basically a cut off piece of a blank with the correct hole and thread cut. Once this is on the section keep it there and load a tailstock drill holder with a 7mm dill bit. This will give you a hole big enough for the head of an international converter which will give it support and a wall thickness good enough that you won’t get any snapping when screwing into the barrel.

How you have a straight section and a drilled out threaded part. Cut off the section from the main part of the blank and carefully insert the threaded end into the jaws. You don’t want it too tight that it will damage the threads but you want it tight enough that it is held solid. A collet chuck would be useful here, if you have one.

Drill out the relevant holes for your nib unit be it bock, jowo or whatever then tap the hole with the relevant thread. To check this i use a dummy nib unit which is basically a nib unit with no nib in it, just the feed. This tells me whether i need to retap the threads or if i need to make any holes deeper. So that the nib unit fits in flush with the end of the section you can get a small borer or a file and while the section is spinning in the lathe to put a small recess into it so that it is countersunk.

Remember to wear a face mask when putting tools anywhere near the spinning lathe. If you don’t do this and you hurt yourself don’t come crying to me. Using any power tools requires the use of common sense when concerning your own safety.

So now you have a very basic section which is just a straight cylinder. From here you can use your files or cutting tools to shape the section into whatever shape you wish for. Just be careful not to turn the walls to thin. I have done this and it is not pretty. To keep the section stable bring your live center and seat it in the hole where the nib unit goes then away you go.