Questions from a noob...pens, lathes - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 02-09-2008, 02:37 PM Thread Starter
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Questions from a noob...pens, lathes

I'm new to woodworking. Got a few tools. Mostly, I've been doing display cases and getting into boxes.

I'm interested in pen making. and other woodcrafts. the economy I live in is tourist driven. I'm a landscper, and come across lots of local woods. Mostly small stuff...and mostly branch wood.


I'm thinking the small stuff would be good for pens, andf the tourists are always looking for something "local" to take home. I'm not looking to get rich or take advantage of anyone. I'd like to sell at reasonable prices. Not so fancy stuff at the craft fairs, and hopefully I'll get good enough to throw some stuff in the galleries here.

Is pen making difficult? What could a beginner expect to do in a couple hours and do the experienced accomplish in that amount of time?

I figured pen making would be a good start for learning lathe/turning work, and if I can get into it, I'd like to move on to bigger and better things.

What would you recommend?
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post #2 of 7 Old 02-09-2008, 03:50 PM
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Hi and welcome to the forum, Turner pens and anything eles can be as easy or as hard as you want. pen making its self is not hard, it is very straight forward, but you can then start to get a little more advanced with segmented stuff and all maner, have a look at this site lots of info on there for you about pen making, how to make them, jigs and all sorts related to pen making,

take a look at youtube as well as there are bound to be small vids showing pen turning.
Just think about what you might want to do as it can be expencive, lathe, chuck, chisels and a host of other stuff. so think before you go buying and then wish you had bought something better, no need to jump right in look around do your homework, lots of lathes are sold at different prices and it can be the same lathe but a different lable make on it, shop around use the internet.
Any wood can be used small branch stuff can be used for bottle stoppers, small turned boxes, if the grain and wood are plain then it can be stained, painted, pyro burn, textured in all manner of ways.
There are a few guys on hear that have more interest in pen making so you will get other help most like...have fun..LB
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post #3 of 7 Old 02-09-2008, 08:37 PM
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Get a Mini Lathe if you don't already have one and go to it. I don't make pens personally but do make similar items using many of the same techniques, just haven't done any pens yet.

After you get the feel for it, you find you can make them rather quickly. Using local woods is a great idea. You can get some great wood for turning from such sources.


When you stop learning, Just give up
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post #4 of 7 Old 02-09-2008, 09:34 PM
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I think it is a great idea, as a landscaper you do have access to probably tons of perfect turning material. You will get 100 different opinions on "which tools to buy", to each his own. Do what research you can and make that choice for what suits your needs.
You should start collecting wood right now. Cutting it into 3/4" X 6" pieces with the tools you have and get them drying until you figure out what turning tools to buy. It would be a shame to let good wood get away now and once you get going wish you had it back.
Who knows, if you find some good stuff...the blanks alone sold to other turners will pay for the tools you need and you get started for free. The island wood you have access to is very desirable.
Unfortunately other locals have similar access and shipping to people who want it is cost prohibitive. I know you probably haul stuff to the dump every day I would love to have.

Last edited by Daren; 02-09-2008 at 09:36 PM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 02-12-2008, 04:04 PM
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HI Kap: Personally, I would try to find a local woodturner's group, or a good store like woodcraft. If at all possible try out several different lathes. You can always turn small projects on full sized lathes, but not vice versa. Try to buy lathe with variable speed and be sure it's a standard brand like Powermatic, Delta, Jet or the like. That's my 2 cents worth. Walt Rollison/Litlhof.
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post #6 of 7 Old 02-13-2008, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips, guys. And I bet I could pack a faitr amount of wood into a USPS flat rate box.

And Walt...I would LOVE to do as you suggested. But I would have to get on a plane and fly somewhere to find a Woodcraft. Ditto for the groups. I'm on Kauai, one of the outer islands of Hawaii, and THE MOST rural and underdeveloped of the four major islands. Just ten years ago, we had NO Walmart (7 y/o now), Kmart (just turned 10), Home Depot (just turned 2)...

The biggest dept. stores were Sears and JC Penny. We had two McD's on the entire island. Now up to five, but still only two BK's. We got Starbucks a couple years ago and they just opened a Costco last year.

There is NOWHERE to get any hands on here. The HD doesn't stock lathes. I have to buy nearly everything blind.

Almost anything "special interest" you have to order online. And pay through the nose for shipping. 99.9% of retailers will only ship UPS oe Fedex here. I bought a PC 4212 dovetail jig last month. Shipping was 48 bucks.

But at least the weather's nice.

Last edited by Kap; 02-13-2008 at 12:51 AM. Reason: typos....sorry, I just can't help myself.
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post #7 of 7 Old 02-13-2008, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah...I seen some Jet Pen lathes online that looked like a good deal. But I looked at it befor making this thread. So now, I'm going to go back and look at it all again with the things y'all mentioned in mind.

Thanks guys.
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