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Old 05-11-2009, 11:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default If I had known this earlier . .

I am on a fact finding mission. Can you help?

What do you wish you had known earlier in pen turning?

or in different words:

Knowing what you know now - IF you could go back and start over in pen turning - what would you skip, change or do differently?

answers for instance:
- I wish I had known about the difference in an MT 1 and an MT 2 lathe.
- I wish I had known the advantages of VS
- I wish I had known this was going to cost so much!
- I wish I had started with a DC system or learned to use a mask from the beginning.

What can you contribute to this post that could possible help someone else in the future?

Hank Lee

Good is the enemy of Best
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had no tools what so ever when I started turning pens. nada. I went out and bought a band saw, drill press and lathe. The bandsaw and drill press are ryobi from Home Depot. I still use the bandsaw but it can't cut straight. The drill press broke and I do all my drilling on my lathe now.

If I know what I know now I would have;

1. Skipped the drillpress and bought the stuff to drill on the lathe.
2. Got a good table saw instead of the bandsaw. With what I paid for the drillpress and the bandsaw I could have gotten a pretty nice table saw.

None of that applies to you guys that are already wood nuts and have tools. One thing I would warn the new people about is the cost associated with gearing up to produce pens if you start from scratch. I have spent at least $5,000 on tools and such, blanks and kits. I had no drill bits now I have at least 30.

I have even more but I will leave it at that for now.

Good luck on collecting info.
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My first thought was your first example. Bought an MT1 mini lathe and wish I had known the difference. And #3...if I had known what it was going to cost I probably would have never started! Some things are better learned later!

Wish I really had understood how much difference SHARP tools make.
Greenbrier, AR
Everybody is a potential winner. Some are disguised as losers. Don't let their appearances fool you.
Central Arkansas IAP Chapter Member
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Don`t think that I would change very much . One of the things that I did from the beginning was to save my mistakes . With time , practice and knowledge gained from this forum , most of those have been reclaimed into satisfactory pens . I don`t want the pile to ever get to zero , because I want to continually push the envelope of what I can create . That , and the remote chance of someday making a profit , keeps me turning round .

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Old 05-12-2009, 12:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I guess I started back wards. I had all of my tools and had been woodworking for almost 30 plus years before I even heard of people making pens. All I had to do was buy some kits and a mandrel. Costs still add up when adding in machine wear and tear and other little expenses that are incurred especially as a hobby.
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Old 05-12-2009, 12:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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use the lathe. extra parts don't make everything better. drilling on lathe and turning between centers make everything more accurate (for me anyway!!!).
Jon Piper - Beautiful Downtown Bowie, MD
You can take this as far as you believe!

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Old 05-12-2009, 12:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hmmm well since this weekend I had my first "lesson" in turning, the information I have gathered so far is this:

MT#2 all the way, you are way too limited with MT#1 and most people soon realize that they may want to try things that will require them to buy a new lathe.

From seeing the difference between VS and not I dont really think there is a big difference. Let me explain a bit, I dont mind having to move the belt and while the dial is a huge convenience and saves time its a saving to get started. What I never saw anywhere on the forum either was that even on a VS system you have to change the belt for different speed ranges as well so its almost a wash. If I have the money Ill go VS but I may want to use that extra $100 on a grinder which I would argue is more important so you always have sharp tools.

Im going to buy cheap blanks in bulk from eBay until I get the feel for using the tools. Actually turning a pen is much different from watching videos, there is a lot more finesse involved that will come with a lot of practice. Knowing angles for cutting, learning different cuts, learning how to use a skew properly and knowing when to sharpen and how to sharpen. I think I may burn through about 50 or so blanks just figuring it out before I use any good materials for a pen.

Thinking outside the box. Seeing how someone actually works is invaluable, Jason had a lot of tricks that I didnt think of and havent seen anyone else do. Things like turning his own custom MT#2 clamps and jigs to use on specific things, using simple tools to do things that people are buying $50 custom tools to do, little things like where to get cheap glue, etc.

Thats what I have so far, Im sure there will be more specifically after I go buy my lathe...sooner than later I hope.

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Old 05-12-2009, 01:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Not too many things turned out to be a surprise for me as I spent several months on this forum and reading books before I vere turned a blank.

One thing I missed was the need for a 60 live center; but I figured that out pretty quick. The thing that took a while to figure out is that all of the relatively small chisels and gouges sold for pen crafting never get out of their box any more now that I have purchased full sized tools.

Also wish I had invested in a digital caliper the same day I purchased my lathe. I had an old vernier caliper; but it is hard to read, quickly, so I didn't get it out very often. A digital caliper or a dial caliper will greatly improve the quality of your work!!

Last edited by Randy_; 05-12-2009 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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i would have bought a Jet instead of a turncrafter pro, i would have superglued the walnut burl blank when i got closer to the tube, i would have CA'd the ends of the blank with thin ca before i started turning it, i would have come to this site first, i would have gotten professional help using a skew and saved a few practice blanks, i wouldn't have tried to turn alloy silver with a wood lathe (i finally got this one almost finished), i would have rearranged my shop AFTER i finish my canoe so i can find the lathe, drill press, pen press, my blanks and kits, etc.....
i would have thanked all the people here in advance for sharing their knowledge so willingly and for their friendship. it's never to late......THANKS FRIENDS!!!!! ...bear
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I'll echo two thoughts already stated, 60 degree centers and turning between centers with johnnycnc's bushings. That and how much difference a nice tool rest made.
Roanoke Rapids, NC

"Yes I am a Pirate".......................Jimmy Buffett

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