Getting Started

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emtffkev

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Kevin
Hey everyone, I have a question that I feel fairly stupid asking, but...Here goes...

I am interested in getting into turning pens. I know very little about it and I'm not exactly sure what I need to get started. I currently have a lathe, some turning tools, and an ebony pen blank (don't ask). I'm not sure what else I need, and I have very limited extra cash at the moment to pick the rest up.

What I'm looking for is the most economical (read low cost) way to get the ball rolling. I am looking to make some pens for me, gifts, and maybe even sell a couple to help support my habit.

Thanks for any advice anyone can shoot toward me,
-Kevin
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Staff member
Corporate Member
First off, you'll need a mandrel kit. This is so you can put the blanks on your lathe. Be sure you know what your lathe headstock taper is. Most lathes us a #1 or #2 Morse taper. If it's a cheaper HF lathe without a MOrse taper, I can't help you there.
On the mandrel you'll need some bushings. These are sized to the kit type you'll be using. The bushing will go onto the mandrel in a specific order to provide you with a reference point for turning diamters, and also to hold the larger sleeves on center with the mandrel.
A saw of some type is needed to cut the blank to length. This can be anything from a coping saw and a vise up to a table saw & sled.
You'll also need an end trimmer. These are available singly or as a kit. It is used after the sleeve is glued into the blank to square it to the sleeve and flush it up with the end of the sleeve.
A drill bit sized for the sleeve is also necessary. Most pen kits will tell you what size bit is needed - and it may not be a fractional size. It could be a letter size or metric.
Although not an ablsolute necessity, a drill press is nice. It helps you drill out your blanks on center and straight. It also aids in assembling the pens after they are turned. It only needs to be a small bench top model but be sure it has a sufficient stroke to drill out the blanks you'll be using. If you don't have a DP, a hand drill and a vise can do the job, but you'll need to be able to keep the drill straight & not wobble your sleeve hole.
A clamping device to hold the blank while drilling. These can be bought but are usually made. A small DP vise will work but be sure you can get the blank to stand vertically in both axes on a consistent basis.
Various grits of sandpaper are also required. To get a good finish on a pen be prepared to sand it down to at least 1500 or 2000 grit.
I'm not familiar with Klingspor's support in this discipline but I can say you'll find all the help you'll need at Woodcraft stores or online. They will furnish you with a comprehensive how-to instruction sheet and product support for any kit they sell in either location.
Penn State Industries online can also provide you with what you need and I believe they have starter kits with all the smaller stuff I mentioned above included.
Did I leave out anything, guys?
Oh - and - good luck.:icon_thum It's a fun slide down the slope.:banana:
 

CaptnA

Andy
Corporate Member
Kevin
you might look into finding someone in your area that makes pens and would be willing to help. When I got started in pens I thought I was horribly in over my head. Every time I thought I was ready to start it was something else. I need a way to hold the blank for drilling. I need a tool to square the ends after gluing. I need a way to clean glue from the tubes. I need a press to put it all together. I need bushings for each style pen I had bought. I needed I needed I needed...... HELP!
Some people virtually took me by the scruff of the neck and straightened me out. Pens are pretty simple- basically. Great fun. Great gifts. Absolutely a world within the world of turning!
A little time with the right person will save you lots of grief.
You can spend lots or little to make pens. But there are specifics that make it lots easier and better.
If you can't find a mentor, places like Woodcraft/Klingspore offer classes from time to time. No idea of cost (I imagine minimal) but I think it would be money well spent.
 

Canuck

Wayne
Corporate Member
Kevin,

WARNING!!! ....Pen turning can be addictive!!!:gar-Bi:gar-Bi

You may want to check out some of the videos posted over on Youtube as well. There are some pretty basic how-to's that I found to be very helpful.

ie .... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2blY9sb6m0E

Have fun!:wsmile::wsmile:

Wayne
 

tom hintz

New User
Tom Hintz
I have a story at the link below that looks at the process of turning pens and shows all of the stuff I use. You don't have to get all of it but if you just want to submit to the dark side, get it all and be done with it.....I started turning pens "because I don't need anything to do it". I may have purchased a bridge or two also...

http://www.newwoodworker.com/turning/trnpens.html
 

DaveO

New User
DaveO
Hey everyone, I have a question that I feel fairly stupid asking, but...Here goes...

-Kevin


Kevin the only stupid question is the one that isn't asked. There are a lot of little items that are very helpful in pen turning as you can see by the above replies. The best thing is to find someone in your area that can let you borrow/use some of the things. In a half day you can set up a lot of pen blanks ready to turn. Then all you need is the mandrel and bushings. You can even do without those and turn between centers and use a set of calipers to guage your fitting diameters. I press my pens together with a Bessey clamp, don't need no fancy pen press. I wish you were closer, I would let you borrow some of my stuff as I've burnt out on pens for a while.

Dave:)
 

emtffkev

New User
Kevin
Wow, thanks for the excellent responses. Not sure yet if anyone lives around me, but I took some of the advise that you gave above and took a drive into Raleigh today. I talked with the guy at Woodcraft and got myself setup with some basics to turn a few pens.

Hopefully I'll give it a shot tomorrow and I'll try to post some pics to let ya'll see what I came up with. For tonight, I'm going to fill my brain with youtube videos of people making pens :)
 

Splinter

New User
Dolan Brown
Kevin,

All good advise above. Order one of these FREE DVD from Penn State. It covers the basics of pen turning.

You also need a method to sharpen your lathe tools. And a finishing method, such as BLO/CA, friction polish, etc., if you don't want to leave the wood in its natural state. There are lots of youtube videos on how to finish pens.
 

RandyJ

Randy
Corporate Member
Kevin,
Good advice already given and I'll third the suggestion of a mentor. I got my initiation from Gator on this site and am more than happy to help [strike]push[/strike] errrr lead someone down the slippery slope:gar-La;.
I'm not really an expert OR in your area. If you happen to travel toward Lake Gaston, you are more than welcome to stop in for some turnin' fun. I'm probably 1.5 hours from you.

I will even donate a few blanks to practice on if you decide to stop by. Let me know if you're interested.

Good luck,
 
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TracyP

Administrator , Forum Moderator
Tracy
OK, I saw this thread earlier today, but did not get a chance to respond but the responses you received were right on target. This is such a great group of woodworkers.
 
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