Half a Dozen Pens

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Project by BarbS posted 08-17-2012 03:59 AM 1606 views 2 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I haven’t posted a project in a little while, because I have been teaching myself to make pens. I found it every bit as addictive as other turners had warned me about! It’s very fun, and there is enough variety in designs to keep me ordering kits and trying new things. The first of these are Amboyna Burl and Fruitwood Cherry from my own orchard, the others are all various acrylics.


25 comments so far

View fernandoindia's profile


1081 posts in 3457 days

#1 posted 08-17-2012 04:22 AM

Hi Barb,

congratulations on your new hobby :)

Good looking and elegant pens.

I have just also started turning some for my first time. But I am delaying the posting untill I can finish of a couple of them.
I did also find it fun. The most rewarding fact, is they are very quick projects.

However it is hard for me to make up my mind on the thousand of models and suppliers. I bought my first begginer´s kit from Rockler. Almost inmediately also ordered a couple of kits from

So far those are the only places where I ordered. And still do not have any opinion. I just found those sites to be more friendly to select different kits.

One thing I found somewhat cumbersome, is that for any different kit, you need different bushings. By now I bought 5 different kits, and have a total of 15 different bushings !! I hope they never get mixed!!

Perhaps experienced turners can avoid using bushings and eyeball the final turning, or use a caliper.

-- Back home. Fernando

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4493 days

#2 posted 08-17-2012 10:07 AM

Great looking pens, Barb.

They can be very addictive.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 2689 days

#3 posted 08-17-2012 10:28 AM

those pens look great Barbs. Been thinking of maybe trying my hand at pens but haven’t done anything other than think. Just so many things to make and so little time. This may be great Christmas presents and may be a nice item to sell for Christmas presents.
How much money does it take to make a pen from start to finish? Then what would a pen sell for?

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina ([email protected])

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3433 days

#4 posted 08-17-2012 10:28 AM

Beautiful, Barb! What a wonderful addiction! :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Bob A in NJ's profile

Bob A in NJ

1251 posts in 4512 days

#5 posted 08-17-2012 10:41 AM

Very classy ‘writing utensils’ for sure, nice work!

-- Bob A in NJ

View Hacksaw007's profile


619 posts in 3702 days

#6 posted 08-17-2012 11:38 AM

Very nice, you are surely hooked now!


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3317 days

#7 posted 08-17-2012 11:45 AM

Really nicely done Barb. They are fun to make and many, many choices.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View thughes37's profile


23 posts in 3175 days

#8 posted 08-17-2012 12:08 PM

Very nice looking pens! You did an outstanding job on those. Just a quick comment because of what was mentioned about the bushings and the possibility of getting them mixed up. I have well over 30 different bushing sets. I got one of those larger tackle boxes and keep the individual bushings in each slot and then labeled them for quick use. Just thought I’d throw that out there. Have fun and turn, turn, turn!!

-- All things are possible, only believe.

View Skylark53's profile


2712 posts in 3573 days

#9 posted 08-17-2012 01:39 PM

Well, you obviously have been busy mastering penmaking. From the looks of these, I’d say you’ve got it! Great designs, nice colors. Excellent work.

-- Rick, Tennessee, John 3:16

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4599 days

#10 posted 08-17-2012 02:19 PM

Thanks everybody! It is lots of fun. Tom, I’ve slowly added in supplies for pen-making. The kits can range from $2.75 to $35 each, and pen blanks from free if you have showy woods and a band saw, to $15 or more for rare wood blanks. Buying the initial mandrel and sanding/finishing supplies is added on, too. They are quick to make though, even for a first-timer. The bushings do seem to be a problem. I keep them in the original bags, as they are tagged for individual kits. There is some cross-over of bushings for different kits, and for a while I tried to pull one from here, one from there to do a new design, but finally gave up that exercise and just bought the $3 bushing sets when ordering a new kit. The real answer to that is to collect some favorite kits and then to keep re-ordering them, but the catalogs are very tempting to make you try new things! I’ve only made about twenty things so far, and wow I want to upgrade and go fancier! Probably will, but I’m going in the hole that way regarding profit/loss. Oh well, I figure I have at least four more months in the year to make up the difference! Pen making is also a nice way to get kids started in the shop. They Love it. See my new blog post in my signature line.


View WoodWorkinginNC's profile


4 posts in 2622 days

#11 posted 08-17-2012 02:45 PM

Your pens look awesome! I’ve been turning them for awhile now, but have recently had to put them on hold due to school. I found a great website for burl pen blanks awhile back that won’t break the piggy bank. :) With the burls though I had to be extremely careful because the tool would bite into the burl and crack it off! But great looking pens you have there! Keep up the good work!

View 58j35bonanza's profile


395 posts in 3206 days

#12 posted 08-17-2012 05:42 PM

Great job. I am learning the art of pen turning myself.

-- Chuck

View TerryDowning's profile


1123 posts in 2631 days

#13 posted 08-17-2012 09:31 PM

I strongly recommend purchasing some digital calipers. Bushings wear out and often not concentric. Fine to use as a guide and get close, but if you really want that pen to fit right and look right, measure every joint. Measure the hardware and then match the diameter od the barrel. There are also variances between batches of pens from the manufacturer.

As wood workers we tend to think that 1/32 or 1/64 is as tight a tolerance we will or need to achieve. As a pen maker, I can tell you it’s in thousandths.

-- - Terry

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4599 days

#14 posted 08-17-2012 10:12 PM

Terry – Is ‘Turning a pen between Centers’ actually turning to caliper depths? That phrase has confused me a bit. Does it just mean doing a kit by measurements rather than with bushings?


View peteg's profile


4435 posts in 3336 days

#15 posted 08-17-2012 10:30 PM

This a realy lovely selection of pens Barb, have never realy had a go at pens but looking at these I just might be tempted, :))
I like the Fountain pen, reminds me of my high school days when we had to use a “real ink” pen, none of your ball tips.
Can highly recommend the digital calipers for accurate work, just remember to start every time with the jaws closed & hit the “zero” reset :: ))
bet these will be up on your site & sold toot sweet

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

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