The feedback I've been getting on the pens I've been making told me that a lot of people, maybe even most, like the pens best without the band, or center ring. I wanted to go a step further though. It absolutely pains me to cut some of the woods to make these pens because, no matter how well you line up the grain while assembling them, the wood never seems to look as beautiful as it did before it was split down the middle to cover the two blanks to be used with the slimline pen kits that I've been using.
What I wanted to do was to figure out a way to use one solid piece of wood for a pen without spending more than I can afford for higher priced kits. I knew there had to be a way, but I just couldn't seem to figure it out. Then I stumbled across this article, realized how simple it is, and couldn't believe I hadn't gotten it till now.
The first one piece pen I made was out of ziricote. I started with this wood because I just think it is a beautiful wood. Also, the last pen I made with this species of wood, I used a blank that was so pretty that I think it actually physically hurt me to cut it.
I was quite happy with the result.
The hardest part of making the one piece pen, in my opinion, is getting the seven millimeter hole drilled cleanly all the way through a four and a half inch long blank. There are several ways to do it. I will tell you how I done it, but keep in mind that it is not the only way.
I think drilling the blank on the lathe would be the best way to go. I have a drill chuck for my tailstock, but did not feel confident enough in my ability to get it perfectly centered in my expansion jaws to drill such a small blank straight enough not to have a side blowout.
I decided to go with the drill press. I had a long enough drill bit. The problem is that my drill press only has four inches of travel on the quill. So I drilled as far as I could with it. I drilled slowly and backed out often to clear the material. It is easy to overheat the bit going this deep. Then after I'd drilled four inches, as far as I could, I loosened the chuck, drew the bit out of the chuck about three quarters of an inch, and then finished plunging all the way through the other end of the blank.
I was happy enough that I decided to then try a new wood that I had never turned before. This pen is made of chicarella. The blank looked amazing. However, after turning it almost down to size, it looked instead kind of bland. So I played with the shape and added some burn lines to dress it up a tad.
Then my wife seen the pens. She absolutely loved the ziricote pen. The chicarella? Not so much. She explained though that it really wasn't the wood she liked about the first one, but the one piece design and the smooth shape. Then she left the shop. This gave me ideas. She liked the pen design, but not the wood. I remembered that a while back she looked at one of my cocobolo pens and went on and on about what a beautiful wood that was.
Everyone ought to know by now. If I see an opportunity to make my lovely wife something that I think she'll like, I do it.
Here is her cocobolo, one piece, pen.