How I drill out my blanks to produce better grain matched pens

After cutting the blanks on the band saw, I line up the blanks and I start drilling the holes for the brass tubes. I always start with the larger diameter holes, that way if I stuff up, I can recover the other half for a smaller pen like the Sierra or Elegant Beauty.

When it comes to drilling out the blank, I always put the marked side with the center of the blank facing up on the press. The reason for this is because if there is a chip-out on the push through, we loose a bit on the end of the pen and not the centre of the pen. This helps with the grain match up on the pen. If we lose too much from the centre of the blank, the grains just don’t look as good. I anticipate the chip-out, that is why I always allow the 5 – 10 mm so we don’t waste the pen blanks.

The drill bit that I use is just a standard twist drill bit. I always sharpen my drill bit before a run of blanks. I use a Drill Doctor to give me a sharp cutting edge – the Drill Doctor is quick, in 30 seconds I have a nice sharp drill.

I don’t use a brad point drill bit because because they are difficult to sharpen. Unless your a very skilled trained professional or have an expensive sharpening machine, their next to impossible to sharpen. The same is true with the parabolic dill bit. Parabolic bits also seem to flex and wobble very easily, the bit likes to follow the grain of the timber resulting in far higher stuff up when it comes to drilling the smaller sized blanks.

2 thoughts on “How I drill out my blanks to produce better grain matched pens

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  1. Hi David , I have just been reading your UTube stuff on cutting and drilling blanks. I use a very similar process to you except that I have all the different pen styles stored seperately and the precut blanks are stored in the relevant drawers so I don’t need to mark them for the style of pen. I dont use a drill press at all, but drill them in the lathe. I use a set of pin jaws on a Nove chuck and as long as they are cut square, there is no trouble centering the drill. I totally agree with your comment about leaving the blank a bit longer than the tube and drilling from the centre? of each blank. Thjis way the grains lines up in the centre and any wandering off line by the hole is not so disasterous.
    I was interested to read your comment on brad point bits. We must have different brad points, mine are flat across the curring edge with no wings or edge cutters and I sharpen them quite quickly and simply. I use a Tormek wetstone and simply put the back of the cutting edge on the round face of the stone with the base of the brad point on the flat face. A couple of turns of the stone are enough to bring back the edge and I lower and twist the drill to lead the edge into the lands. Then little change of angle to touch up the tip of the point, repeat for the other side and Presto!, a nice sharp brad point bit.
    Keep the work going please, I like this idea of a forum. Russell


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