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Old 10-09-2012, 01:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How did you get your start in pen turning?

Just curious as to what made each of us decide to get into the addiction of pen turning.
My story is: I am a diesel tech by trade but have always been into turning wood every since HS wood shop 28 years ago. 2 years ago my wife came into the shop and said that she wanted me too make a mechanical pencil for my daughter. I replied "are you loosing it? I dont turn those little things, Im a bowl slinger!" Hench thats where I got my handle from. I made the pencil and honestly have been hooked since then.
So what is your story?
I have never met a piece of wood that I did not like.
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I was laid off from a job early in 2008 as an IT Support role doing a jack of all trades kind of approach. After about 2 years being out of work I was wanting to pursue another interest possibly. I've always wanted to do something with my hands, create and use wood. So in 2009 for months I started researching Woodworking seeing what I could get into with the limited tools I had. One day I stumbled into some videos on Youtube that shown Pen making. I've always liked pens every since I was young. Seeing the process it really appeared to me as a good way to get into using tools, an excuse to get more tools plus create pens. In February 2010 I took a Pen Turning class at the Columbus Woodcraft, a month later I bought a Jet Mini lathe. Things just progressed from there. Doing it for fun, the idea of trying to sell didn't come till later in the year. Few years later still doing it, not selling much but still have the desire to create pens as often as possible. Now I am employed doing Technical Help Desk support but still enjoy making pens and eventually want to shift careers full time into woodworking, pen making etc if it can happen.

Larry D Nance Jr
LDNJ Pens & More

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Old 10-09-2012, 02:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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In junior high we were required to take shop classes and one of them was wood shop. I hated the noise and the dust and really wondered how I was going to survive. A few days into the course the instructor said it was time to show us how to use the lathe. Within that day, I became hooked on the lathe. We were required to make screwdriver handles, because in metal shop, we would make the screwdriver. I loved making the screwdriver handles and became so good that the others in the class paid me to make theirs! I was so hooked that I sent away for catalogs to find where I could buy my own lathe. At that time, the cost of the lathe was too high for a junior high student and my father had no interest in woodworking at the time. So after trying to find other people in the area who had a lathe, or attempt to get a used one, I gave up.

Years (and years) later, my dad took a class at Woodcraft on how to make kitchen cabinets. (he had suddenly developed an interest in woodworking) He was so excited and urged me to visit Woodcraft, as they had "all kinds of lathes in there." I went out one afternoon and talked to a guy who was a pen making fanatic. He talked me into signing up for the class in beginning pen making.

I took the class, and while my turning skills had declined markedly over the invervening period, I loved making my two Slimline pens. I spent hours looking at them and showing everyone in my family. Now, I have a brother, sister-in-law, nephew and two neices making pens! Its great fun, whether you sell them, give them away, or just collect a bunch as your own personal favorites.

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Old 10-09-2012, 03:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well first I created the Internet. Then when I got bored with that I created Wood Working, or was it the other way around.

Actually and dear friend of my Father in law had asked me for years to come to his house and learn to turn a pen. Being that I didn't have anywhere to keep tools nor do the work, I refused for a long time. After finally adding on to my house I went to his house and watched him turn a pen and he let me hold a tool also. That was March of 2011 and now have more tools than I thought I ever would and looking for the next great deal on a lathe(I have 2 already) Makes me wish I had went years ago and took up pen turning.

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
― Stephen Grellet

Deuteronomy 31:6
Romans 14:8
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Old 10-09-2012, 09:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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After I got into wookdworking (all flatwork), I started making Christmas gifts for friends and family. After several years, I started running out of ideas of what to make. Then I saw an ad in one of the woodworking mags for penturning parts and supplies. So I got a lathe and made a bunch of pens to give away. Since then, my table saw has become just another flat surface on which to place things.
Stan in WV
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Old 10-09-2012, 09:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I was making a delivery at one of my stops on the route and needed a signature, while waiting for the pastor of this church to sign my invoice, i noticed that he had some really neat stuff on his desk, they happened to be a bowl and a goblet. I vaguely remember him having a pen but i never put much thought into it. Well, when i inquired about where he got them, he said he turned them on his lathe, and then invited me to the next local woodturning meeting. That was in April of 2008 and it took all the way until September of that year before i met Don Ward (its_virgil) who opened that doorway into the pen world! He has been a great teacher and friend over the years. I owe all of my talent to the good Lord above, looking back now, it was all part of HIS plan! thanks for letting me share my story
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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One of the first tools I ever used was my Dad's woodlathe. It had been his dad's before him. It originally was in an old mill and ran by the old flat belts from an overhead shaft that was powered by water. It consisted of some big cast ends (legs) with pockets into which large wooden timbers fit to form the bed. It had big heavy cast iron wheels for locking the tailstock and tool rests in place. Parts of it were a bit makeshift, but that was as much our lack of knowing what was available for centers,etc, at the time. I was about 10 when I first played with that lathe. Years later we replaced the timbers with 12 foot long ones in order to turn a couple of columns for a porch here in town.
When I moved out the very first power tool purchase I made was a Sears lathe.
The local lumber yard where my Dad and I did all our business would send all their specialty requests for spindle turning to me. I got so I hated doing it!
That lathe set in my basement mostly unused for many years. Then a few years ago I had a chance to by an old Rockwell/Delta reeves drive lathe that had been in our local high school. (it's a shame they seem to have phased out Industrial Arts everywhere). I converted that lathe from a 3 phase to single phase and purchased a Talon chuck.
It wasn't until I got cut back at work to 4 days a week one Winter that I decided I needed a hobby to pass the extra time I suddenly had.
I was very fortunate in a way that my first order from CSUSA was delayed for what seemed like weeks because during that time I discovered the IAP. Between the people here and some woodturning friends on the rec.woodturning newsgroup I got very good advice on tools and aproach.
Soon I was making lots of pens, the first ones every bit as ugly and underturned as you can imagine, but I was hooked!
At some point I gradually got a little better and had enough sales to friends and friends co-workers that I was able to purchase a second lathe and move my turning area inside where the cold Winters didn't slow me down. I was, and still am, addicted!
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Way back in the early 1990's my dad bought a shopsmith and started turning pens. That convinced me to buy my first lathe (a craftsman) and start turning pens for my self and friends. I turned almost exclusively slimlines for about 5 years. Then graduated to some American Flat Tops. Stopped turning about 7 years ago. Picked it up again this summer when my son asked me to make him another pen. A lot has changed in the pen turning world in the past 7 years (of course some of that might be due to internet access.)
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I had been collecting tools planning to take up woodworking when I retired. The year before I retired while visiting my daughter my son in law's uncle made me a pen and I really enjoyed watching him make it. By the next time we went to visit my son in law had bought a lathe and started making pens. I went with him to Woodcraft to pick up supplies and decided to buy a couple of kits and try it myself. Needless to say the next month I bought a lathe and after being retired five years I am in two different woodturning clubs,have three lathes, and woodturning is the only woodworking I am doing.
Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow !!
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Old 10-09-2012, 11:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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CSUSA booth at the local wood working show a few years back turned me on to pens. Up to that point I was primarily flat stock and didn't own a lathe yet.
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