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Pen Turners Kit

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Forum topic by Rink posted 09-30-2019 05:41 PM 489 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rink

149 posts in 640 days


09-30-2019 05:41 PM

I’ve been making bowls, platters, plates, bottle stoppers, etc. for a while and figured I’d give pen turning a shot. Peachtree is having a sale and I’m wondering whether the Pen Turners Kit is a smart purchase, or whether I should purchase separate pieces. Any advice appreciated.

David


19 replies so far

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Andre

3002 posts in 2409 days


#1 posted 09-30-2019 06:48 PM

Careful, Pen turning can be very addictive and habit forming, as well as expensive! Almost every different style of pen/pencil requires different bushings and trimmers and then ya start looking at peppermills and seam rippers and bottle stoppers and and and. A good press is the most important item to start with IMO.
Check out Lee Valley and William Wood-Wright(Canadian so good deal with exchange rate).

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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RobHannon

326 posts in 1134 days


#2 posted 09-30-2019 07:52 PM

Slimlines are tempting because of the low price point, but they are pretty unforgiving as far as catches go and can be a little uninteresting. A barrel trimmer is a good tool to have. Barrel insertion tool is really easy to make on the lathe already out of scrap. The pen mandrel that comes with the kits is decent, but if you get into pens you will likely want to switch over to turning between centers.

The starter kits in general give you a false idea of what you will need to get into pen turning, vs just turning a pen.

View Drew224's profile

Drew224

27 posts in 2925 days


#3 posted 09-30-2019 08:07 PM

Not really. As I do my calculation without the nice box as they advertise $70 was regular price for the kit Now as I look at Penn State’s online catalog all Items can be had at the price of approximately $60. Only thing missing from the kit is perhaps the Mandrel saver live center. The Insert tool is not a need as you can make your own
The Slim line kits are NOT the kit to learn pen turning with. I highly recommend the Cigar kit (PSI Calls it the Big Ben) It far and above first timer friendly. Which brings me to the barrel trimmer. Yes you will need it and prepare to get a full kit as it is cheaper in the long run.

-- "...Be sure to read, Understand & follow the manufactures safety rules... And there is never more importaint rule than wearing safety glasses."

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Wildwood

2790 posts in 2738 days


#4 posted 09-30-2019 08:46 PM

You don’t say if have any pen making accessories, but will need a pen mandrel either MT1 or MT2 barrel trimmer drill bit and maybe some extra pen tubes. Packard Woodworks and other vendors sell starter kits that include those items, or can choose to buy individual accessories as you need them. Packard is a Penn State Industry (PSI) reseller and most other vendors selling pen kits and accessories also sell PSI Stuff too!

http://www.packardwoodworks.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=packard&Product_Code=153058K2&Category_Code=
Packard: 1-800-683-8876

https://www.pennstateind.com/store/slimline-pen-kits.html
PSI: 1-800-377-7297

Before buying your kits from Peachtree would call and get free catalogs from both PSI & Packard Woodworks. PSI often gives 10% or more discounts on first orders. May find what you need buying from other places mentioned here at lee or about the same.

I bought pen starter set, when first got into pens from Packard but had been buying other turning stuff from them and Crafts Supplies for years. Don’t make slim line kits anymore because cannot buy cross refills locally. Prefer to make single pen barrel kit mostly buy from BereaHardwoods, who also has couple different resellers. They used to have a catalog not sure if do anymore.

There are a lot economy Slime line kits out there which have cheap plating and components for few cents cheaper than regular brands. If buy more than 1 kit at a time will not see a difference in cost.

-- Bill

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Wildwood

2790 posts in 2738 days


#5 posted 09-30-2019 08:49 PM

You might hang out here to learn more about pen turning and different vendors it’s free to join.

https://www.penturners.org/

-- Bill

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Rink

149 posts in 640 days


#6 posted 10-01-2019 04:12 PM

Wow, there’s an International Association of Penturners?

Thank you for all your responses. I’m having second thoughts about Penturning. I have shelves full of turning blanks for bowls, boxes, platters, bottle stoppers (and a bunch of pen blanks, too), and a shed with even more wood. Enough wood to keep me busy for quite some time. Not to mention the non-lathe woodworking I want to do. My suspicions are being confirmed that Pen turning is more than getting a couple of items and turning away. I’ve got too many tools already and don’t think I want to start a new collection.

Hmm. Seems like I’ve talked myself out of it. For now, anyway.

As an aside… I was at a craft fair the other day and one of the booths was filled with literally hundreds and hundreds of turned pens in every configuration imaginable. I remember thinking to myself that the booth presentation cheapened the art. If there was a more limited number of pens, they would have seemed more special (and probably could have demanded a higher price). Even though I’m sure that each pen was hand made by the booth owner (and they were well made), the sheer overwhelming quantity of pens gave me a “Made in China” kind of feel.

David

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Wildwood

2790 posts in 2738 days


#7 posted 10-01-2019 07:27 PM

Only make pens by special order these days from old customers, like said stay with single barrel pens because don’t need a mandrel. Turning between center just use kit bushing lot easier. Do have three mandrels 2 from Beara and one from PSI.

Still have pens couldn’t sell at craft fairs & shows but they were never that big a seller for me. My other turnings always did much better.

Thing about pens really simple to turn and quality kits do better than those economy kits. Lot of pen turners over at IAP do it as a hobby these days and happy they make expenses. Besides craft fairs, farmers markets, and show people sell on E-bay & ESTY. Some even have their own websites.

https://www.etsy.com/search?q=turned+pens&order=most_relevant&view_type=gallery

-- Bill

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Andybb

2349 posts in 1206 days


#8 posted 10-01-2019 11:18 PM

If you have a lathe it’s still a great skill set to have without spending a lot of money to get set up. They are a great source of instant gratification too. They make great gifts and can be done start to finish in an hour. Got a retirement party to go to? Make a pen with a box for under $25 in an hour.

A good press is nice to have but are easy to make in various forms. I spent $0 on this using an old HF clamp and have made over 100 pens with it. I know folks who have only used their drill press for 10 years.

Yes, there are hundreds of different kits out there but if you plan on trying to sell them then pick 3 or 4 of the most desirable kits and make them in a variety of blanks. I mostly give mine away and make a few custom ones I charge for around the holidays. But if can sell 5 pens in a year you make enough to make and give away another 10-15.

Yes, look at some of the stuff that people make on IAP.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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pottz

7659 posts in 1587 days


#9 posted 10-01-2019 11:47 PM

well yeah if you want to get rich pen making is not it,but if you want to enrich yourself it might be.ive made hundreds over the years and probably broke even at best but it’s a lot of fun.there are just too many people making them now to make any money selling,but as andy said they make great gifts,who wouldn’t want a nice custom pen.and yeah check out IAP it may change your mind seeing what can be done.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

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Wildwood

2790 posts in 2738 days


#10 posted 10-02-2019 07:50 PM

At one time IAP ran an annul survey of how much money folks made selling pens. Haven’t seen one in long time. Had people that made a living turning pens and many like me sold pens every year but never cornered the market place. More hobby pen turners there today.

Big problem have to be aware of selling your crafts today is adding to your cost are taxes, insurance and if accept credit cards need pay-pal or square account and pay those fees too. Also show and booth fees. Lot depends upon where you live and venues you want to attend. Better keep track of your expenses whatever you sell and make sure collect sales taxes and pay them.

Better know what taxes state, counties, and cities charge and making sure collect and pay sales taxes. Again laws do vary depending on where you live and sell your crafts. Not sure what you do if all your sale are online at places like E-Bay and ESTY or other web sites other fee web sites collect.

Know many craft venues want you to have liability insurance now, really depends upon venues. Many want to see proof of licenses & insurance in addition to cost of entry & booth fees before signing up.

Was lot easier when first started out selling my turnings only needed a county & or city sales license and only did cash sales. Did a lot of small venues just paid booth fees. Only do one show a year on military base if have something to sell now and still only collect cash payments. If they don’t to hit the ATM machine probably lost a sale.

-- Bill

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pottz

7659 posts in 1587 days


#11 posted 10-02-2019 09:42 PM

yeah my wife stopped doing craft shows years ago after the booth fees and other costs barely broke even,and they would usually want you to give them your sales totals for tax reasons at the end of the show.i think most of the older people that do the shows just to have something to do in retirement and dont care if they make any money.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Andybb's profile

Andybb

2349 posts in 1206 days


#12 posted 10-02-2019 11:30 PM

Making pens is not a money making proposition in most cases. I have a woman that owns a framing and crafts shop locally who will sell them. I also sell a few to co-workers at holiday time. Otherwise, I have no time to devote to developing an Etsy page or anything.

It’s just a fun thing to do. If you’re looking into it to make money that isn’t really viable unless you have a ton of time or someone who will market them for you IMHO.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

1161 posts in 3396 days


#13 posted 10-02-2019 11:45 PM

Nice easy gifts. I do pens from wood from people’s own trees and bushes, that mean something to the families. I have pens in several countries, and one at the Pentagon. Pens from family wood have brought out a lot of tears and memories. It is worth it just for that. I also buy from craft Supply, and woodcraft.

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pottz

7659 posts in 1587 days


#14 posted 10-02-2019 11:47 PM

ditto andy and ibewjon

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Rink's profile (online now)

Rink

149 posts in 640 days


#15 posted 10-03-2019 02:58 PM

I’m the OP… after all the great responses, let me restate my question in a different way.

I have all the tools I need (famous last words, I know) to make traditional items on my lathe. I’m mildly interested in trying out pen making. I don’t plan on selling. Maybe give some away as gifts. If I have to gear up and spend a bunch to get started, I’m not going to do that until maybe I get bored with what I’m doing now.

Is there a way to get started and make a couple of pens without spending a lot? It seems like I would need a mandrel, a barrel trimmer and some pen kits for sure. Is that enough?

David

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