I've recently started attending an open shop night, where a dozen people meet up in a friend's workshop and build miscellaneous personal projects.

My recent personal projects (and job!) have all been software, so I wanted to keep my hand in. After a few weeks of hanging out, I decided to make a machined pen.

I familiarized myself with the lathe (old, manual, no digital read-out) and purchased a JetPens sampler set to pick a target ink cartridge (Pilot Juice Up).

Using Solvespace, I made some basic drawings:

machining drawings of a pen

After a McMaster order for the specific drill bits, tap, and die, I was ready to begin. With one night at the shop, I successfully turned an aluminum rod into top and buttom pieces that threaded together, with an internal hole for the ink cartridge:

solid cylinder with the tip of an ink cartridge sticking out

After a second night, I had a plausible pen body, along with a screw-on cap:

disassembled pen

Everything fit together nicely around my chosen ink cartridge:

assembled pen

It didn't turn out exactly like the drawings; I had to make a bunch of small adjustments live, and didn't bother getting the tip angles exactly right.

drawings, showing hand-annotations

Still, not bad for a first try!

My biggest complaint is the concentricity: my order of operations cut off the base too early, so I couldn't grasp anything other than the pen's body in the chuck. This meant that I couldn't turn down the entire pen in a single pass. Instead, I had to turn down each section separately, which leaves visual discrepencies at the seams.

Not to worry, though; next time, I've got a plan.