Pen Turning Bushes

When turning wooden pens, a bush is used at either end to both centre the brass core where it is larger than the standard pen mandrel, and secondly, and importantly, it is a guide to how far to turn the blank so it ends up flush with the pen hardware.

While turning a pen recently (a Sierra), I was somewhat confused why I seemed to have a lip between the timber and the pen tip hardware.  Now I know for a fact that I had turned and finished the timber absolutely flush with the bushes, so there should not have been any lip at all.

After thinking it through, and thinking it through, I came to only one conclusion – not that the bushes were the wrong size, but that one was wrong – in other words, the bushes supplied were both for one end only, and that they should have been different sizes, and weren’t.  The difference is only 0.5mm in diameter (as in the timber was oversized), but it was enough to mean I was not satisfied with the result.  So, I thought it would be useful to record all the different pen design mandrel dimensions, at least so I had a record of them, and in turn they may prove useful to others. (In this case I found a bush the right size, remounted the pen, shaved off what I needed, and refinished. Yes – very frustrating, but I couldn’t leave it “not right” when I knew there was something more I could do).

So to start the record (and with the intention this will made into permanent pages down track as the range grows to a respectable size, including drill bit sizes, and images of the different pen kits, before and after).

Sierra (Dayacom)

1 x 12.40mm w 9.80mm shoulder
1 x 11.90mm w 9.80mm shoulder

Shaft OD 10.30mm
Shaft Length 55.80mm

Elegant Beauty (Dayacom)

2 x 11.95mm w 8.25mm shoulder

Shaft OD 8.85mm
Shaft Length 50.10mm

Sedona (Dayacom)

2 x 12.15mm w 9.55mm shoulder

Shaft OD 12.25m
Shaft Length 48.25mm

2 x 14.35mm w 11.70mm shoulder

Shaft OD 10.15mm
Shaft Length 53.05

2 Responses

  1. Hi Stuart,
    I was wondering where you got your Sierra kit because the kits I get from Arizona Silhouette, CSUSA and Woodcraft use the same bushings on both ends. I verified this in their instructions and by measuring the bushings I have. Is it possible that one of your bushings was either shaved under size by your skew or maybe by sanding?

  2. Hi Alex,
    Actually it was the other way around – both the bushes I had were the same size (12.40mm diameter), and it meant that one was oversized, not undersized.

    I’m not sure if there are pen kit manufacturers in the US, or if they source the kits from one of the few factories in China and Taiwan as well. I haven’t tried any of the Chinese kits, preferring the high quality of the Taiwanese ones (they cost about 20% more, but the quality is definitely noticeable).

    FWIW for the Aussie readers, the current batch of pen kits have all come from Jim Carroll (Carroll’s Woodcraft Suppliers –

    It does make it apparent that I’m not going to be able to rely on simply the pen style to determine the bushing sizes, but am going to have to be more specific about which manufacturer is involved as well – bugger. I’ll include the manufacturer details in future – as soon as I find out what they are! The pen kits from CWS are manufacturered by Dayacom.

    Nice to see that the pen manufactures can keep to a consistent standard. Oh, wait…….

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