Sapele Metro Rollerball Pen

In the video that got released today on my YouTube channel, I made a Metro Rollerball with a sapele blank.  This pen kit was the most difficult kit I’ve assembled yet, but the theme from the cigar pen can be applied to the Metro: Be organized and it isn’t too terrible to assemble.  If you’re organized and go slow, it isn’t a terrible process.  If you rush and don’t organize your parts, good luck.

Typical of all pens I’ve turned, this one starts by marking the blank so it can be cut to size on the band saw.  It is important to stay organized from the start on this pen because it has two parts and requires two different size drill bits because the top portion is a screw on cap and then you have the body of the pen, which requires a different size drill bit.  After I cut the blanks to size on the band saw, I drill the holes to accept the tubes.  The cap requires a 15/32″ drill bit and the body requires a 25/64′ drill bit.  Again, as long as you drill the correct size holes into the correct blanks (the cap is the shorter blank), it’s a pretty painless process.

Once the holes are drilled, I can scuff up my brass tubes and glue them into the blanks with the glue that Starbond was kind enough to send me.  Thanks, Starbond!  I let the CA glue dry and when it’s dry, I can trim and square the blanks flush with the tube.  I recently got a Tim Geist sanding/squaring jig, and I LOVE IT!  This makes squaring blanks so much easier and the need to barrel trim go extinct.

Once the blanks get squared, the blanks are prepped and finally ready for the lathe.  I get to turning and sapele was a treat to turn.  When I turn pens and other kitted items, I crank up the lathe speed to just about as fast as it’ll go and I start turning.  I prefer to start with a square carbide tool to get the piece to a round (or roughly round) state, then I continue to turn to final diameter with a round carbide cutter.  That’s just my preference and I’m sure everyone does it differently.  I’ll take a quote from Bob at RJBWoodTurner: “If it’s safe and it works for you in your shop, do it.”  What works for one person might not work for another person and that’s okay.  As long as you find what works for you and you’re comfortable with whatever it is, go with what works.

I also picked up a second new tool in this video (in addition to the sanding jig).  I decided to move away from my mandrel saver and pick up a 60 degree live center.  I have to say that I fell in love with this addition to the lathe as soon as I started using the tool.  Now my mandrel isn’t getting stuck in the mandrel saver and I’m not having those kinds of issues anymore.

After I got the blanks turned to the diameters of the bushings, I sanded them with 220, 400, 1,000, and 2,000 grit sand papers.  This made the blanks super smooth.  Once the sanding process was complete, I used some denatured alcohol to wipe the blank down.  This serves two purposes.  The first is to clean the blank of any sanding dust, oils that might have been on your hands, and any other dirt and grime that might have been on the blank.  The second is that it gives a preview of what the blank will look like finished.

I let the lathe keep spinning after I apply the denatured alcohol so the blanks can dry, and the DNA evaporates pretty quickly.  When the blanks are completely dry after applying the DNA, you don’t want to touch the blanks because you don’t want any contaminants from your hands to get on the blanks.  At this point, I apply a CA finish.  I finished a few more pens off camera with Starbond CA, and just couldn’t get it right.  Maybe I wasn’t using enough coats of thin CA or maybe it was something else, but I did use a different CA for the finish on this pen.  After I finished the pen with CA, I wet sanded from 1,500 all the way up to 12,000 grit with micro mesh.  Then, I put two rounds of HUT Ultra Gloss on the pen.  I wipe a coat onto the blanks, then buff the polish out.  This makes the pen shine and look real nice.

I finished applying the polish and was ready to take the blanks off the lathe and assemble them into a kit.  I was careful to keep the blanks oriented the same when taking them off the lathe because I wanted to have a continuous grain running throughout the pen.  Once I got to assembly, I used the PDF that woodcraft provides on their website to help me.  If you’re interested, you can find the PDF here:

https://www.woodcraft.com/media/W1siZiIsIjIwMTgvMDEvMjMvMTUvMDIvNDEvOTE2LzE1NDY4MC43N0QzOV9NZXRzLnBkZiJdXQ/154680.77D39%20Mets.pdf?sha=2d5f851aec08b1a4

My biggest suggestion with this pen kit, especially if you haven’t assembled a ton of these (like myself), is go slow and make sure you organize your pen parts.  If you organize yourself, this is a very straight forward process when assembling.  At the end of assembly, you have a gorgeous pen!

If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to contact me and I will get back to you.  I respond to all comments on my YouTube videos and will definitely get back to you if you email me or contact me.  Thanks for watching the video and checking out this article!

-Robert

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