I wrote this post entirely using the wordpress for android app on my phone, which then decided to lose everything I'd written ;-( So here I wrote again thinking that I may never trust the android app again.
Previously I wrote about having made an oak book stand for my wife's Christmas present. In addition to that I also decided to make her an artists sketch pencil. We originally saw these at a craft faire in Winchester, as part of a large selection of pens being sold by a woodturner. Kat and I were both drawn to the unusual nature of these sketch pencils. Basically the mechanism is a 4 jaw 'chuck' which you operate by pushing the end plunger to open up the jaws. They take a 5mm lead in various colours, and when released, the 4 jaws grip the lead securely.
The guy selling them mentioned that you can't get the kits in this country and they have to be imported. I forget now much he sold them for, but they were not cheap. I often feel a little pang of guilt at this kind of time, since I've normally shown quite an interest in the goods being sold by a woodturner, but only ever out of interest to go away and make them myself, never to actually buy them.
Having remembered them I did a little search and found them sold by Craft Supplies USA Woodturners catalog, unfortunately having to get them from the US makes things a little costly due to the shipping, so I ended up buying a couple of those sketch pencils and a couple of their 'tool box' variants. The tool box variant have little hex 'nuts' at the centre and plunger end in order to stop the pencil from rolling around when put down.
In construction I had a couple of mishaps from not really reading the instructions on drilling the blank (how hard can it be to drill a hole through piece of wood?) Basically I had the drill speed way to slow, and didn't leave enough spare length on the blank to allow me to stop without drilling all the way through. So on two separate blanks I managed to blow out the base of the blank as I got to the end of the drilling (the bottoms literally exploded into fragements ;-() This left me not very happy. However after taking a little more time to read up on it, I sped up the drill, made myself a better jig for supporting the blanks, and went more carefully and all was well.
The tool box variant was a little bit strange, in that the rear hex nut is not a push fit into the barrel, rather having turned the barrel you need to trip a few mill off the rear end, back down to the brass tube, then glue the nut onto the brass tube. This also means that there is no snug fitting around the plunger (as there is on the artists variant) The finished product is still cool, but I feel it would be nicer with a push fitting that provides something close to the rear fitting of the artists sketch pencil.
I think this made a really nice gift and I was happy with how it turned out. A colleague at work expressed an interest in them, but I think the cost shipping would make them quite difficult to make and sell at a reasonable price. That said I do also have my eye on the soft touch kit for making stylus' that work with capacitive touch screen tablets (my transformer prime should arrive tomorrow) so maybe I could order another batch of kits. If I convince people to buy them from me I might offset the cost of making my own...