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Thread: Pen making kit...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

    Pen making kit...

    If I want to start making pens, what reusable parts do I need? I.e. those parts that stay with me, and not the pen. Let's suppose I am going to make a European style pen like the one on page 152 of the current LV catalog. Also, suppose for now that I am going to make only one kind of retractable pen until I get the hang of it. Is there anything I should make sure of, so I'm not surprised when I get home and don't have it?

    As Always, any advice appreciated.

    The other member of Mensa, but not the NRA

    Everyone is a self-made person.

    "The thing about quotes on the internet is that you cannot confirm their veracity" -Abraham Lincoln

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Bare minimum, you'll need a pen mandrel and a set of bushings made specifically for the pen kit model you are planning to turn. You will also need a way to drill the holes in the pen blanks to insert the tubes. Some folks use a drill press and others use a drill chuck on the lathe tailstock, essentially turning the lather into a horizontal drill press. Also, the drill bits for drilling the holes for the pen tubes need to be sized accurately, and they can also vary from one pen kit model to the next.

    Beyond that, there are a lot of other non-essential gadgets you can buy...some make things easier or faster, but others are just inventions designed to remove money from woodturners' wallets. .
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Clyce, Texas

    Everything Vaughn said above is good. Personally, I'd start with the Ballpoint Twist Pen (called Slimline by other makers) above the European style you chose. The Euro requires you turn a tenon to get the center band to fit. For a beginning pen turner that can be a frustrating experience. The Ballpoint Twist is a very forgiving pen kit, requires the least hardware, and is very versatile and less expensive.

    If you click on the link for one of the pens on page 152 then scroll down to the pricing area, you'll see links for Acc (accessories), Tech (technical help for making this pen), and Inst (instructions). Before you decide what pen you want to turn, look through the instructions to see if you want to do that and look through the accessories to see what else you'll need.

    On the next page in the catalog (top right), you'll need item J, the 7mm mandrel. It comes with some spacers and has a MT2 connection on the headstock end. On the tailstock end, it's designed so you tighten the blanks on the mandrel with the brass nut on the end. The point of your live center fits in an indent in the end of the mandrel to hold it in place. If you turn many pens, this will wear off the tip of your live center. If you decide you like turning pens, I recommend a Mandrel Saver like you see here: . Saves your live center.

    One of the most frustrating things I learned after I started turning pens is that several different manufacturers make very similar pens, but they're not exactly the same. There are small differences that require you to buy the bushings for the specific pen kit you buy because the ones from a similar kit don't fit. I've got a good list of people I buy pen kits and such from. If you're interested, email me and I'll be glad to share.

    Get ready to get hooked. Pens are fun to do and you're done quickly, no waiting 3 months while a first turned blank dries so you can turn it again. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be turning them out in short order. They are fun to use and great gifts as well as good sellers. Enjoy


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    What others have said is on spot. Just keep in mind the bushings should be considered disposable items. You need to replace periodically. So calculate that cost into your prices if you plan on selling pens. I like the European as it has a classy look. The tenon isn't that hard to learn. Just use inexpensive blanks to start. As for non-disposable tools, I find a good press very helpful. In fact, if you plan to make many pens it is indispensable. BTW, I much prefer the quality of the CS over Penn State. Now we need pics of some of your pens.
    "Folks is funny critters."

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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    I couldn't read the other responses due the the excessive sun in Alaska...but...a finish of some kind. Sanding material, breathing and impact protection, always order replacement tubes, they have a way of stopping pen production when you need two and one died Feel free to call me after Sunday for tips and tricks.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    S E Washington State
    Roger, you do not to go there!! I made a pen once and it tool over my life for over two years! Everything I looked at I wondered if I could make a pen out of it! I was in a vortex of vortexes. Sorta like scrolling is for me now.....
    "We the People ......"

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