Turning A Cigar Pen

A Cigar Pen is also known as a “Big Ben” pen, for some reason. It gives you quite a bit of heft and feels very comfortable in the hand. It’s called a cigar pen because it’s shaped much like a cigar (talking about it just makes me want to smoke one, but I digress!).

The top and bottom are tapered to 7mm, the same as the regular old slimline pens. The middle sections are where it gets interesting (and why you need the cigar pen/big ben bushings). I don’t have the exact sizes in mm, but there are 2 different sizes. One is the largest of the 4 bushings you need, and the next is the 2nd largest. I’ll map these out below so it kinda makes sense. My set has 4 bushings in it, but some sets only have 3 and the center band makes more sense.

Items required to make a cigar pen:

  • Pen mandrel
  • lathe, of course
  • Big Ben/Cigar pen bushing set, comprised of 2 x 7mm bushings, and either a one piece cigar bushing or 2 center bushing (I’ll call them “large” and “medium” from here on out)
  • 10mm drill bit
  • 10mm barrel trimming set
  • pen blank
  • pen kit
  • pen tube insertion tool
  • a vice (I prefer the pen blank self-centering vice)
  • CA glue (both medium and thin)
  • CA glue activator
  • sandpaper (100 to 600 grit)
  • micromesh sandpaper (1500 to 12000)
  • Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO)
  • denatured alcohol
  • Carnauba wax (or similar)
  • friction polish
  • pen press
  • drill press
  • bandsaw
  1. When making your pen, you’ll find lots of documents talking about short/long and top/bottom. This is much different than a slimline, where both ends are interchangeable. There’s no backsie’s with a cigar pen, since each end is custom fit for the end that it is.
  2. In my docs below, short = top piece, long = bottom piece.
  3. So to keep all this straight, here’s your bushing layout from the headstock to the tailstock (left to right):
    1. 7mm bushing
    2. Top of pen (short wood)
    3. Large bushing
    4. Medium bushing
    5. Bottom of pen (long wood)
    6. 7mm bushing
  4. A picture is worth a thousand wordsciagr1
  5. I don’t do enough cigar pens, so I admit I look at this every single time I make them, just to be 100% sure.
  6. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s make a pen, shall we?
  7. I won’t repeat everything I have in my slimline blog post (Slimline) since much of it is exactly the same, but I’ll gloss over what I can.
  8. Pick your wood, and make sure it’s a thicker piece.
  9. Line up both the top and bottom barrel pieces and mark them on the wood, giving yourself a little bit of wiggle room.
  10. Cut off the end piece and using the bandsaw cut down your marks to cut the wood in “half”.
  11. Take one end of each piece and draw an x to find the center. This is very important as since the cigar pens are thicker, you have less wiggle room.
  12. Use the drill press and drill out the center of each blank using a 10mm drill bit, backing out every few seconds to pull out the dust. Try to get in as much of the center as you can. In the beginning I definitely had to throw away some blanks as my cut was too close to the edge.
  13. Sand both barrels to rough them up so the CA glue can stick to it.
  14. Use medium CA glue on the barrels so they’ll stick to the wood.
  15. Using the insertion tool, slide each barrel into it’s appropriate blank, making sure both ends are inserted into the wood (remember, use the short barrel with the short blank!)
  16. Spray activator to get the CA to set
  17. Once the glue is set, use the 10mm barrel trimmer to square up the ends.
  18. Place on lathe using the configuration in the picture above. Since your pen mandrel is 7mm, you’ll need to place the ends of the bushings inside the blank to get them to set correctly.
  19. Tighten the tailstock.
  20. Carve! Be careful as you have much less wood that needs taken off than on a slimline. Be creative with your shape, as unlike a slimline the 2 ends of each piece are different sizes, so you’ll need to taper it to get it to look good.
  21. Follow the sanding and finishing in my slimline post (Turning a Slimline Pen), but essentially:
    1. Sand from 120-600
    2. Clean with denatured alcohol
    3. Wet sand with micromesh to 12000
    4. Clean with alcohol again
    5. Finish with the thin CA glue and Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO)
    6. Apply a couple coats of the friction polish
    7. Apply a couple coats of wax
  22. Assemble using the pen press. This is essentially the same process as before, you just have to make sure to lay out the parts appropriately. Every kit I’ve bought has different assembly instructions, so I defer to them on help for final assembly.
  23. Enjoy!

Here’s an example of one of mine:


Cigar Style Pen



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