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Forum topic by Mark Wilson posted 03-19-2017 09:19 AM 1263 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Wilson

2841 posts in 1867 days

03-19-2017 09:19 AM

I have a Buddy List that includes scores of people. However, I don’t remember who the great penmaker is, and, I don’t have the energy, at present to go through the whole list.
I need to start making some money in my artistic endeavors, or, I swear, my head will explode. I recall one of my many Buddies telling me, some time back, that there’s money in pens, and associated accoutrements. If you know who you are, please respond. I have ?s.

-- Mark

19 replies so far

View robscastle's profile


7237 posts in 3008 days

#1 posted 03-19-2017 10:06 AM

It sounds like the go, its not me but I will keep watching just the same.

-- Regards Rob

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2821 posts in 4488 days

#2 posted 03-19-2017 11:05 AM

Not guilty Mark, best of luck especially making money.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View Wildwood's profile


2876 posts in 2939 days

#3 posted 03-19-2017 12:23 PM

Is there money to be made in turning pens? Simple answer is both yes and no! If run it as a business and everything that entails guess only a matter of time before you are rolling in dough! Most pen turners average less than a $1,000 per year. If go to sites like ETSY have a look at the competition. There are other sites online including personal web sites selling pens.

Might hang around here for awhile get some information, also free to join. Have to join to see some of the important threads like Marketing, or library.

Been selling pens for many years, but not my biggest seller. I only do one craft show a year these days most of the money made selling pens came from whole-sale sales to local stores. When did out of town craft shows might sell couple pens at each. Think did one show where sold over twelve pens.

-- Bill

View bushmaster's profile


3940 posts in 3086 days

#4 posted 03-19-2017 01:58 PM

Pens can be a beautiful item, What price would they sell at to make to make it worth while., or what would people be willing to pay for something to nice to carry around to use and lose. I did know one fellow that did make pens but I think the main advantage was a sign on his truck door of his business, rewarded with a tax write off. Cool, a pen write off. sounds like a contest. |I thought of making some for gifts, but the kits are not that cheap either, Maybe that why people buy them, to give away. What do you give people that have everything. May be in that light there is a big sales possibility.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View them700project's profile


245 posts in 1822 days

#5 posted 03-19-2017 02:49 PM

a place tomato money with pens if you are good is a place like Some of these guys have pen collections in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But if you start posting your work there someone may take interest and ask for custom work.

View lew's profile


13147 posts in 4559 days

#6 posted 03-19-2017 03:02 PM

Wasn’t me. Although I have made pens- mostly as gifts.

I was involved with making special pens for the local historical society. I used salvaged wood from an 1817 building that had some work done.

There is a guy near here that does craft shows. Some of his pens go for around $100.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View leafherder's profile


1963 posts in 2756 days

#7 posted 03-19-2017 03:23 PM

Not guilty Mark, although I have noticed a trend at local craft shows: Pen makers are also making the computer stylus for phones/tablets. Seems like a natural fit for your location/situation – a high tech accessory that is made from a natural renewable ecologically friendly renewable resource (and in your case reclaimed from street trees) that also supports a struggling artist – you can carry some samples with you to show off on your daily rounds.
Best of luck to you,

-- Leafherder

View jimintx's profile


934 posts in 2388 days

#8 posted 03-19-2017 03:59 PM

I’d like to read some more on the topic of this pen-making art and making money from it. I have not ever made a pen, but the overall topic intrigues me.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View Wildwood's profile


2876 posts in 2939 days

#9 posted 03-19-2017 04:23 PM

Think only way to approach pen turning is learn the different vendors brick & mortar & online vendors. Buy in bulk to get a discount, shop sales. Do not buy economy kits that most vendors sell these days quality of parts can be an issue. Kit plating is another issue concerns wear resistance. Buy the bushing for the kit you buy at the same time buy your pen You can read the online instructions for the pen kit that you like (they give you written instruction with your order).

Craft Supplies USA catalog has Pens & plating 101 page which is very helpful. Could not find online.

Berea Hardwoods has one on line.

Penn State Industries (PSI) used to explain their plating in their catalog have not seen or look for it in a long time.

Berea & PSI have the most brick & mortar stores and online vendors re-sellers, Craft Supplies has none.

-- Bill

View DocSavage45's profile


9006 posts in 3646 days

#10 posted 03-19-2017 05:02 PM


checking in to see if you have some answers. Looks like you got some good information here. I have a friend who found a niche in making pens. Not sure if he continued but it was with a golf shop and the pens were for big men’s hands.

There are some YouTube guys who make their blanks out of plastic and sell them at different prices.

Are you ready to do volume, or specialty. Check out local Galleries if you come up with a creation you like and see what the competition is doing.

Best of Luck!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View TravisH's profile


719 posts in 2739 days

#11 posted 03-19-2017 06:22 PM

I turn pens and other similar items to support the wood working hobby. I don’t find them enjoyable to turn but they don’t take any time and depending on who your are targeting easy to get rid of.

I would much rather make a high end pen but frankly they don’t sell for me (ok my wife at the shows she does). Much better off buying the budget pens and sell for 15 to 30 dollar range (6 bucks in materials). Most will drop that money without thinking. Twenty bucks seams to be the sweet spot for the shows my wife does.

Hit $50 and above you get a lot of lookers. Usually can 10 pens at $ 20 bucks for every 1 at $ 40 and gets worse the more it goes up.

Can sell tacky theme pens frequently however for more.

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2841 posts in 1867 days

#12 posted 03-19-2017 08:29 PM

Bill, thanks for the links.
The first penmaker I ever met was this guy. He was working at a Rockler store, and has since gotten his own Rockler store. Been out of touch with him for at least a couple years. No one does it better than he. And, yet, it seems he has to do something else to make a living.
The position I’m in, regarding the matter, is that I have this funky notion that it’s a way to make money. And, maybe, to gain some kind of artistic satisfaction. The thing that’s kept me, thus far, from pursuing it is that I lack any of the required equipment. I won’t even try to get away with it on my old Shopsmith. That’s just the lathe part of the equation.
Pennstate keeps nagging me with their emailed ads and sales (I came very close to ordering a lathe that was on sale recently).
Whatevah. I’m just flighty and frustrated.
I’ve never “done” a craft show. I can’t say I’ve been to even a handful of them. They don’t appeal to me, for whatever reason.
Penmaking, like marquetry, I find inspiring, somehow. When I see the amazing and amazingly creative and innovative things done by people like David and Paul, this nagging little bitch of a bird in the back of my mind says, Maybe you can do that. Now, that would get peoples’ attention. (If you read that out loud, pinching your nose shut, you’ll have an idea of what it sounds like.) I’m sick of hearing it. I want to make it shut up without spending a butt-load of money just to see what comes.
Thanks for the responses.

-- Mark

View Grumpy's profile


26509 posts in 4655 days

#13 posted 03-19-2017 10:15 PM

Not me, but there is one I came across that’s made over 40,000 pens.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View leafherder's profile


1963 posts in 2756 days

#14 posted 03-19-2017 11:08 PM

Hey Mark,

If you don’t like going to craft shows, you will detest working at craft shows. Another option (at least in these parts) is a “locally made” store – these are like consignment shops for local artists/crafters. Take in a selection of your work, if the owner likes it, thinks it is suitable quality, and thinks it will sell at the price you are asking, then they agree to take on a certain quantity. When it sells they keep part of the proceeds, if it doesn’t sell you get it back, if it sells really well they ask for more. I have a friend who does this during the Christmas Season with hand knit sweaters and scarves – she gets to focus on the knitting without having to worry about marketing and sales and display, etc. Several of these stores have popped up locally in the past few years, some are better run than others and you need to be careful of scammers who abscond with your product for resale in other states, or the ones who take too big a cut of your set price to cover their “expenses”.

Good luck,


-- Leafherder

View pottz's profile


10312 posts in 1788 days

#15 posted 03-20-2017 12:05 AM

well ill admit that that I do and have done a pen or two,thats the extent of my turning mark,mostly have done them for friends but did sell quite e few at work to contractors,especialy the Mexicans they seem to love a nice wood pen,but as some said 20 bucks is the sweet spot,over that and theve got to to a real eye catcher.ive done some snake skin that I could sell for 50 bucks and up,but I try and use mostly real nice burl woods.trying to do bulk is just not worth it and no fun just cranking out run of the mill stuff.hell man with your turning abilities you could probably make pens blind folded.well good luck and don’t expect retirement to come any faster selling pens.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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