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Lathe Upgrade for better pen/pencil making

Paul has a Charnwood W815 Lathe and he upgraded it a wee bit to make better pens and pencils. He tells us about the upgrade.

This tutorial tip is part of Pauls tutorial on how to turn pens and pencils on a lathe.


Just a wee note to say that I managed to upgrade my Charnwood W815 lathe.

My particular lathe is the Charnwood. Whatever lathe you, as the purchaser, choose then you should check out the accessories that can be utilised for the best performance on that machine and whether you want tabletop like mine or full bench depending on space you have available. Ease of use, vibration free under load.

Shop around and ask anyone who has experience or contact your local library for any courses they could attend before deciding whether it is worth paying out a lot of money on a machine you cannot use.

And of course after all that consider your financial budget. Because cheap is not necessarily best. �Get the best lathe that you can afford with the most features and after sales service.' 


I noticed that my pillar drill was somehow drifting off a little and  even though I used a square to make sure it was perpendicular to the blank. It still drilled odd centers.

So I found that my lathe makers had a 4 jaw chuck (Viper2) that could be used to hold the blank and I added some jaws that replaced the supplied chuck jaws (V2PJ or pin jaws) now I can secure the pen blank in the chuck and I replaced the live center with a 13mm chuck to hold the Colt drill bit and drill my pieces much more accurately. (See pictures.)

Also, a useful addition is a mandrel saver for when turning. This replaces the live center supplied and is slid over the mandrel and then slid/locked up to secure the blanks.  This prevents the mandrel from bowing.