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Step 5: Turning on Lathe: Shorter Section

Start by turning the shorter section. It doesn't matter which section you do first, but it's easier to do the short one since it's like turning a regular slimline pen and it helps you get in the groove to do the longer section. Mount the blank (you can do two at a time, like shown below) with slimline bushings in your pen mandrel.

I won't go into how to use woodturning gouges, as there are much better video sources to provide guidance on that. I will point you to videos that I found helpful though: this one is a great breakdown of how to use the basic set of gouges, and this one is great for understanding wood catches, demonstrating what a "wrong" cut looks and sounds like. For general good technique and inspiration, Carl Jacobson has great videos, along with Alan Stratton from As Wood Turns. When turning pens, I usually just stick with a roughing gouge for cutting off the square corners, then a scraper for making smooth curves along the blank, and spindle gouge for tapering the ends and creating beads/coves/designs.

Don't forget to sharpen your tools, especially when turning hard, brittle woods like ebony, palms, and wenge! It's never a bad thing to sharpen: if you're wondering if you should sharpen, you probably should've sharpened 30 seconds ago. I usually sharpen all my tools every two blanks I shape. For palms and harder woods, I also turn up the speed to reduce tearout. Also, remember not to go too thin or over-tighten the tailstock, unless you want to waste your precious wood: