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Thread: Pen Turning Vendors Question and Finishing Pens

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Palm Springs, Ca

    Pen Turning Vendors Question and Finishing Pens

    Taking off from a comment from the other thread - I have bought from Woodturningz but like I had said I have not been to impressed by the ink cartridges that come with the slim lines etc -. I called the other day to ask about other kits for the future and the rep at Woodturningz said that alot of their products come from Penstate (they get a cheaper price thru bulk alot of times on the kits). In any case i know others who buy from Brea and I have not tried them yet.
    My question is where others are buying their Kits from ??? I find alot of good quality kits are not cheap to buy

    Other question is on what others are doing for finishes on their wood pens - I use BLO, Myliands, Shellawax, and CA Glue - I use them in different combinations and get fairly good results but thought I would see what others are doing for finishes ...................Thanks Dan
    First you have to learn the rules - Beginner
    Then you have to learn advanced rules - Professional
    Then you disregard the rules - This takes you to the master level................

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    I stopped buying from PenState months ago. Their customer service is about the worst I've ever seen. I agree on their cartridges as well. They tend to skip. Unfortunately they seem to sell to many of the other pen kit sellers.

    I buy some from Rockler and Woodcraft. The Rockler cartridges seem to be the best. I've bought a few from Berea and they were OK. More expensive though.

    I use pretty much the same finishes as you do.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    I've bought the Berea kits from Arizona Silhouette. I like the Berea kits, but I've not bought any directly from them. That's mostly because the first (and only) time I called them to ask a few newbie pen turning questions, the lady on the other end of the line was not only zero help, she seemed upset that I would dare ask her for suggested kits and bushings for a beginner. Arizona Silhouette has a good selection of pen blanks, and they seem to have a habit of throwing in a free blank or two with each of my orders. (Been a while since I bought anything from them, so I don't know if they still do this.) I did have one $10 to $15 kit that was missing a small part, and when I first inquired about it, they told me to just send a note with my next order and they'd send a replacement part (a thin trim ring, without which the kit wouldn't fit together). Next order, I did as I was told, but never got the ring. (As I recall I was told I'd need to purchase it, although it's been a few years now so I don't remember the details.) That kind of left a bad taste in my mouth about the company, but I figure they've given me enough free pen blanks over the years to make up for the wasted kit.

    I've bought a fair number of the low to mid-level kits from Penn State, and they've been OK, but I knew I was not getting the best kits. I pretty much stayed away from Slimlines, although they have another one or two 7 mm kits that weren't bad. I also did a few of their higher-prices kits ($35 - $40), and the hardware was nice, but the drill bits they supplied were a shade too big, and the kit called for the wood on the barrels to be turned paper thin to fit. Because of the loose holes, I had to use epoxy to fill the gaps when gluing the tubes. On about half the blanks I ended up turning the wood down to exposed epoxy before I got it down to finished size.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    I use hundreds of slimlines through woodturningz yearly. Seriously, between my own small pen business and my students, easily 5-600 pens a year, easily. My other go to guy is Ernie at He has an OUTSTANDING selection of acrylics/acralesters/etc.. Wonderful person, Ernie and his wife are top notch people and love dealing with them. When I ran into a problem with trannies then one batch of pens had bad ink cartridges, woodturningz with no problems and or questions replaced them no charge and no shipping charge. With the bad ink cartridges, had a couple of students buy from PSI and had the same problem so must come from the same batch, but I do not know this for certain. HUT is another one we use from time to time.
    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake.

    I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place.

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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    I seem to drift back to CSUSA after trying others. Good selection, great service and top quality kits. Buying large quantities might be a little cheaper from others but in the long run CS takes care of me. IMHO Penn State kits are very poor quality. They do have the largest and most unique selection however. AZ is good as long as you don't complain to them about anything. DAMHIK
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Oliver Springs, TN
    Like Jonathan and Frank I've been completely satisfied with beartooth and CSUSA. I've never had a problem with either.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    CSUSA and Berea Hardwoods usually offer the best/most consistent service. Quality would have to go to both of them as well. I've had the same Honduran rosewood burl Berea Sierra in my scrubs for over 5 years...looks almost new. I had a question last year about a nib rom Berea so I called...I was transfered to Joe, one of the owners who chatted my ear off for 45 minutes like I was his neighbor. In March of last year, I ordered a bunch of Aero's from CSUSA. Ended up with a Euro somehow. I called and Amber said "Oops, just keep it, we'll send you your other Aero on the house." Doesn't get much better than that!
    The only finish you mentioned worth using is CA. BLO is sometimes used in tandem with CA and from what I see...about 50/50 success rate. I have never tried it (I use straight CA with great results) but see all the *^%%^$%*& on IAP from those that do.
    Last edited by Jim Burr; 03-02-2013 at 10:56 PM.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  8. #8
    I like and recommend -- their kits are mainly Berea with good service and fast shipping. Dawn and Ed are very nice people.

    Remember the tea kettle - it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it
    still sings!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Gallian View Post
    I like and recommend -- their kits are mainly Berea with good service and fast shipping. Dawn and Ed are very nice people.

    Great folks!!! I use their blanks all the time!
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    For a while I think Woodturningz was selling some of the cheaper slimline kits from Shenzhang (not sure of this spelling)(Chinese mfgr) and not the Diacom we were more used to getting... but he realized they weren't of the quality he wanted to represent his company and switched back... since he's a PSI re-seller, that may have been a product of PSI making the switch... I know I got several SL kits from Woodturningz that all of the refills were leaking and I had ink inside all of my bags and on the clips and nibs... I just switched out the refills, but went back to getting my slimlines from CSUSA. Over the last 10-12 years I've been turning I've bought from most of the suppliers.... PSI, CSUSA, AZ Silhouette (Bill not Barry - haven't gone there yet), Beartooth, WoodPenPro, WoodCraft, Rockler, Hut, Wood-n-Whimsies, Berea, WoodenPost, and I'm sure others I've missed... I'm thinking that most of the smaller suppliers are PSI re-sellers, Berea and CSUSA have their own line and some of the re-sellers also re-sell Berea.... I don't think CSUSA allows resellers. I've found that all of the sellers are pretty equal in customer service... some a little faster than others, their sales lines and shipping departments are probably the same person... PSI is a larger company and has a more extended sales operation... the orders go through more hands... being an ex-shipping manager, I understand their problems and know that it will take a day longer on most orders... my last order was for 3 dart kits using their lowest cost ground service... I had the order in 6 days.. with a weekend in the middle. I have no problems and have never had a problem with PSI's customer service or shipping times.

    I generally stick to the larger companies when I buy, though I will some times buy from a re-seller.... My preference for pen kits generally runs to the CSUSA catalog. My all time favorite looking pen is the Baron from Berea, which I think you can only get from AZ Silhouette, but the price has tripled since the first time I bought the kit... I've about stopped doing pens as the cost recovery in my area is getting much harder... they're not big sellers at the markets I do.... Bowls and Peppermills do much better.

    As for finishes, I recently had an opportunity to try the Shellawax finish... it's a nice soft finish... not so hard and shiny as the CA.... don't know how durable it is, but I liked the looks of it... the wood looked like wood and not a hard plasticy look like the CA...
    Last edited by Chuck Ellis; 03-03-2013 at 03:20 PM.
    Tellico Plains, TN
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

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