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Pen Drilling Jig

Use this jig to securely hold your pen blank while drilling a perfect center hole all the way through your blank.  This jig ensures that your drill bit will not exit the side of your pen blank and removes your fingers from the danger zone of your drill press.
Figure 1
Figure 2

First, cut a ¾” thick piece of wood measuring 3 ½” x 6”.  This will form the base of the jig labeled A in figure 1.  Any wood will work, but I strongly recommend a hardwood like maple.  My first pine prototype, although I got a few months of drilling out of it, broke relatively easily.
Figure 3

Next, cut two dado’s in the base as shown in figure 3.
Figure 4

Next, cut the two end pieces, parts B and C, out of ¾” stock measuring 2” x 3 ½”.  These two eventualy get glued and screwed into the previously cut dados.
Figure 5

Next, cut part D from a piece of ¾” stock measuring 1 9/16” x 3 ½”. If you look closely at figure 1, you will notice that part D doesn’t come in contact with the base.  That is to allow clearance and give part D the ability to move along the two metal guide rails.

 

Cut the V-grooves in parts C and D.  These are centered on the wood and can be any angle and depth.  I prefer an angle steeper than 45 degrees.  Assuming that your pen blank is square, an angle of 60 degrees will cause the wings of the V-groove to make contact with the sides of the blank before the corner bottoms out in the groove.  This however, is a personal preference and therefore not that important.
Figure 6

Take parts B, C, and D and place in a clamp aligning all the top edges.  Mark the top of all three parts so as to keep the holes aligned later. Drill a 3/8” diameter hole 5/8” from the edges as shown.
Figure 7

Next, using glue in the joints, screw parts B and C into the dados cut on the base.  Remember the alignment marks you made on the top of parts B and C before you fasten them.

Make the two guide rails out of 3/8” steel rods, each measuring about 5”. Place part D into position between B and C.  Slide the two guide rails through part C until it passes through part D and out the other side of part B.  Ensure that part D slides freely on the guide rails.  Once you are happy with the action, slide the guide rails out in one direction or the other about 1”.  Put a dab of gorrila glue near the end of each guide rail and push them back into place.  Allow the glue to set.


Figure 8

Drill a 5/16” center hole in part B.  Insert a T-nut into the hole.
Figure 9

Create a crank handle as shown in figure 10.  Use a piece of scrape ¾”x1”x2” hardwood.  Drill two 5/16” holes ½” from each end.  Drill one through hole and the other about ½” into the piece.  Insert a 5/16” carriage bolt into the through hole.  Add a nut onto the other end of the bolt and tighten down.  Glue a 2” length of 5/16” dowel into the other hole.

Insert the handle assemble into the hole on part B and through the T-nut.  As you continue to turn the handle, the bolt will press onto Part D.  This will cause part D to move closer to part C and clamp your blank in place.

 

 

Added Feature:
 

Looking at figure 10 below, you will notice a series of holes.  I have a group of about 5 or 6 drill bits that I use most often when turning pens.  They range from a 7mm to ½”.  I use each of these bits to produce a corresponding hole in the jig as shown.  On the top of the base plate, I write down the bit size above the holes.  This is a convenient place to store your pen drilling bits.

Using the Jig

 

First, cut your blank to length.  Insert the blank into the jig so that two of the corners are placed into the groves cut on parts C and D.  Turn the handle on the crank until part C presses firmly onto your blank.  Place the jig under your drill press and drill a through hole.