How to Make Wooden Pens Without a Lathe

wooden pen image by Alex White from

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Miter saw
  • Pen blank
  • Drill press
  • 7mm drill bit
  • Pen hardware kit
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Quick set glue
  • Pen mill bit
  • 7mm pen mandrel with three bushings
  • Sanding drum
  • Wood finish of your choice

Pens are always in demand--at the office, in the checkout line at the store and at home when you're writing that weekend to-do list. Making wooden pens is a good way to create distinctive instruments for gifts, businesses or just your personal use. Traditionally, wooden pens are made using a lathe to turn a smooth cylinder shape. However, a pen can be made without the big expense of a lathe by using basic tools and a few pen-specific tools and supplies.

How to Make Wooden Pens Without a Lathe

Use a tape measure to find the center of the pen blank. Mark that point with a pencil. Use a miter saw to cut the pen blank in half.

Use a drill press and 7mm drill bit to drill a hole through the center of both halves of the pen blank. The pen blank halves should be about ¼ inch longer than the brass tubes that came with the pen hardware kit. The ¼ inch of extra material allows for the bottom end to be trimmed to remove any blowout that may occur while drilling.

Sand the brass tubes that came with the pen hardware kit lightly with 120-grit sandpaper. This will prepare the brass surface for glue. Apply quick-set glue to the brass tube according to the package instructions specific to the glue you purchased. Quickly slide the brass tubes into each half of the pen blank.

Saw the excess wood off the bottom (approximately ¼ inch) of the pen blank halves with the miter saw.

Drill down through the center of the pen blank halves with the drill press. Use the pen mill bit. The pen mill bit will clean off any excess glue that remains inside.

Insert the sanding drum into the drill press. Hold the mandrel up against the sanding drum. Steadily move the mandrel so that the entire corner edge of the pen blank starts to become increasingly rounded. Do this for each edge until a cylinder shape is formed. When you are satisfied with the shape of the pen blanks, remove the mandrel from the sanding drum and shut the drill press off.

Apply your choice of wood finish. Follow specific instructions included with your choice of wood finish.

Assemble the pen by placing the parts from the pen hardware kit into the brass tubes. Start with the insert. Press it firmly into the lower end of the bottom tube. Place the clip and cap into the upper end of the top tube. Insert the pen mechanism into the top end of the bottom tube. Slide the center ring into the upper end of the bottom tube. Place the bottom end of the top tube over the pen mechanism. Slide the top tube down so that it meets the center ring. Screw the two tubes together until the center ring is tight against both tubes.


  • Experiment with different kinds of wood. Each variety of wood will bring a different look and feel to the pen.


  • Wear eye protection. Follow tool safety instructions carefully.


About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.

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