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Do you make Pens?

6883 Views 85 Replies 38 Participants Last post by  DrDirt
I've been thinking of making some pens. Everybody seems to be doing it, and I have always had a weird fascination with writing instruments. I have a massive collection in my office. Plus, I have to make some gifts to get a few people off my back. SO…

How may of you turn pens?
Do you use mini turning tools or your regular ones?
Give me an basic list of the tools I need. (Chisels, pen press, mandrels, etc.)
Where do you buy your kits?
What is your favorite material?
How do you finish them?

ANY input would be appreciated.

(The greatest woodworking show mankind has ever conceived is now online!)
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Thanks, Joe. That was certainly to the point. So, for a guy like me who has never done it before, and is therefore not biased in any way… tell me… why not?
Nope! I have more than I'll ever use, and just don't have the inclination.
Wanna buy a swell Mont Blanc?
I was considering making an offer on the Mont Blanc, but when you said "swell", all I could do was giggle…

You have more pens than you'll ever use? Well, I have more hand planes than I will ever use. But I WANT MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Mwa-ha-ha-ha!) And I may even make a few soon…
No. Don't turn. Have several drawers full, already. Need a nice, slightly used, Bic?
Not me…it looks interesting, but I have never tried it.
This is interesting… When I go into woodcraft I see two isles of pen stuff. SOMEBODY is making pens…
I also want to get into pen turning … looks fun …. but still havn't decided if I want to go with a mini lathe or delta midi …. so I would like to hear what everyone uses for lathes tools ect…
nope, i know enough folks who already do it..get that chicken of yours to peck out some pens, cheap way to do it…
I don't own a lathe yet, but will likely be buying one sometime this year. With that being said, I turned my first item, which was a pen, back in November at the Woodworking Show booth that was sponsored by Craft Supplies USA. We could choose our pen blank, then they mounted it up for us on an Apprentice 812 VS Mini Lathe. I used the Easy Wood Tools to turn the pen, then cleaned it up with sandpaper and added the finish. Although I had to rush through making my pen (long story), I think you can easily crank a pen out from start to finish in about 10-15 minutes, including mounting, turning, sanding, finishing, and pressing the pen together without feeling as though you're rushing.

I'd probably turn pens again. Heck, they're super-easy and very quick to churn out. I plan on buying a full-sized lathe though, rather than limiting myself with a mini lathe. You can turn a pen on a full-sized lathe just as easily as on a mini lathe.
I turn pens. Got into it because it was the only thing I could really make, considering my workspace was my college dorm room.

I mainly get my gear (including the carba tec mini lathe) from Penn State Industries. I have sold a few finished pens on Etsy too. I use small-size turning tools (a set of three from PSI) but would like to get proper "mini" tools as it'd be easier to make some of the decorative lines I like to make.

I happen to have a PSI catalog here at work; at lunchtime I will go through it and make some recommendations of things I've found useful. Are you going to get a mini lathe or do you have a lathe that will work?

I finish with stick wax usually - also a PSI product.
Stumpy-Yes! I have turned about 60 pens in the past 6 months … 50 for the Freedom Pens Project, and another 10 or so for gifts.

Q: Do you use mini turning tools or your regular ones?
A: Regular tools … the mini tools are pricey and I think you can you do just as well with regular tools.

Q: Give me an basic list of the tools I need. (Chisels, pen press, mandrels, etc.)
A: Spindle roughing gouge, detail spindle gouge, skew, mandrel & bushings. Pen press is nice, but you can assemble with other tools in the shop like your vise. Grizzly has a reasonable priced pen press … that's the one I bought.

Q: Where do you buy your kits?
A: Mostly from Penn State Industries, some from Rockler.

Q: What is your favorite material?
A: Brazilian Rosewood (because it was FREE), and cherry.

Q: How do you finish them?
A: Mostly use O.B.'s Shine Juice … a home brew I learned about from Eddie Castelin ( )

I made my own drilling jig …

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Elizabeth: I have a full size lathe that I would like to use. Any info would be appreciated…

Gerry: Thanks for the tips!
I have a small Jet 10X14 lathe that I have made probably 100+ pens on. It's really fun. I have gotten to the point where I challenge myself and create acrylic segmented pens.

The lathe tools I use, a gouge and a skew. And a good sharpening method of your choice.

Mandrel and shaver will help out BIG time.They allow for a nice flush/square end to press your pen parts too.

A pen press is nice but I honestly don't use it much anymore. I just use my bench vise with thick leather on the jaws to protect what ever I am pressing in. Brass works well too.

The nice thing is you can make more than just pens and the Lathe/turning world becomes more and more interesting.

I use Craftsupplies for 90% of my parts.
Chris-I bought a Delta 46-460 VS Midi in July … I love it. Mine has the extension bed, so I can do spindles up to 42" in length.

When I bought my lathe, pen-turning was not on my radar … I wanted to do bowls, boxes, spindles, etc. I took a beginning turning class at the local TC, and one of the sessions involved making pens, which sort of got me hooked.

I think turning pens is a good skill-builder … you learn the importance of sharp tools and a light touch, which helps you when you are doing other turning projects as well.

Oh, check this out for ideas on making your own fancy pen blanks - I am going to try some of these ideas.
Stumpy-I left the barrel trimmer off my list … you need one to square up the ends of the blanks and trim flush to the tube.

Gerry: You wanted to turn boxes on your lathe? You do realize that square things are not made by turning, right?...:)
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