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Old 07-03-2018, 08:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
its_virgil's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Wichita Falls, TX, USA.
Posts: 7,008
Photos: 73


How Long Does It Take To Make One Of Those?

Do you mean...

not plant the tree, but find the wood,

just ‘see’ the piece, (as if I could)?

to find a highly figured burl,

a crotch, an eye, or pearly curl?

And once I spy it, perhaps buy it,

inventory, store, and dry it?

Then saw or cut it, possibly I kiln it,

glue, imbue with fill, or drill it?

You mean, that once I’m satisfied

it’s stopped the warps, checks, cracks, once dried?

And mounted on the lathe, to turn it,

(which takes much practice, just to learn it;

and then employ a gouge, or two,

or use a skew, which I don’t eschew,

to mold it, shape it (what’s your pleasure?)

by all means, I’m sure to measure,

then sand it smooth, please wear your mitts,

from coarse to fine, 10,000 grits,

then braze, or burnish, paint, or polish,

(the goal: enhance, and don’t demolish)?

Is that your question, start to end,

how long’s that path, its way to wend?

Or do you merely want to know how long it turned?

Ten minutes, or so.

John A. Styer, The Lathe-meister
Don Ward aka its_virgil
Wichita Falls, Texas (pen stuff I've written)
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Bartlett, IL 60103
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It takes me months and months to complete a pen. Actual lathe time not to sure.

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Old 07-03-2018, 09:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Alpharetta, GA
Posts: 5,813
Photos: 6


If I add-up all of the steps 1 to 2 hours (definitely closer to 2 for a double-barrel)
Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? Abraham Lincoln



Member of Local IAP Georgia Chapter meets quarterly in Roswell, GA
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Old 07-04-2018, 05:05 AM   #14 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Indiana
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"There are some one hour pens, and there are some 24 hour pens," is how I usually start the response when the question comes up at least once a day, sometimes 3-4 time a day. Then I go on to explain that I'm not counting the pens that I throw away after 20 hours when I can see that they aren't going to work out. I explain that some take months with gaps between working on the next step. I mention that I've gotten a lot faster now that I've made tens of thousands of pens. I'll also explain that the days I spend casting is not included.

People ask because they want some assurance that the pen art they are buying is worth the money, sometimes it is a person finding it hard to believe that I'm not selling mass produced pens. Often it is a new pen turner asking and trying to image how they could ever make 500 or so pens like they see in our sales display
Often wrong, never in doubt.
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:44 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Mackay. Australia
Posts: 519
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Some of the pens I am working on now were started 20 years ago when I milled the timber and cut the choicest bits into pen blanks. Some of my CA finishes I let sit for a month before I sand and polish , I have enough on the go, that I am not in a hurry to rush them.
Though I had to rush one pen just recently for a commission, got it done in 3 weeks.

Every day might not be a good day,
but there is something good in every day.
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Old 07-04-2018, 08:28 AM   #16 (permalink)
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Tellico Plains, Tennessee, USA.
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I don't do pens anymore, but I get asked that question on my pepper mills and bowls about 10 times per 5 hour show... I usually tell them a week or more.... depending on who the finish comes out.... I also tell them that they are not just buying a pepper mill or a bowl, or a piece of wood that's made round, what they are really buying is the artistry that goes into making the piece.
Tellico Plains, TN

If you look for trouble, it will find you!
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:39 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Mountain Home, Arkansas, USA.
Posts: 7,344
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Of course the finishing time can vary. One of the biggest time consumers, for me, can be just selecting the wood. If the intended pen is for a special project i can be very fussy about what I select. I have cut and collected thousands of blanks over the years and going through 20 boxes of blanks looking for 'just that right one' can take a lot of time. But once I make the decision I know the end product will be something I am proud of. e.g. my next project will be for my daughter and her husband, two Jr. Gents with stabilized pure white holly. Sorta faux ivory. If we charged for our time all pens would have to be way-way over $100.00.
Mountain Home, Arkansas
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." from Animal Farm by George Orwell
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Old 07-04-2018, 10:52 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Location: Houston, Texas
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My uncle has been doing wood art as a primary income for upwards of 30 years, his answer is usually "a lifetime".

As for myself, I've been at it a little over a year, the more experienced I get the longer it takes me. Early on I was finishing a pen in 1 to 2 hours. Now I would guess that I am more like 4 hours, but never get a continuous 4 hours in the shop. This doesn't account for the many hours that I spend examining my blanks and trying to pair the perfect kit. And then another hour or so inspecting the finished pen for flaws and inconsistencies. In the end the actual drilling/turning/assembling is only a small fraction of the time that I spend on the hobby...
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Old 07-04-2018, 03:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Location: Louisville, KY
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It generally takes me a week to make a pen. But i only work on them a couple days a week. Most of my time outside of work is gluing blanks together and casting.
Wicked Chickens lay deviled Egg's

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Old 07-06-2018, 08:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 2,597
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Hard to say because I prep blanks many at a time. Cut them all, drill them all, tube them all, then mill them all. Usually turn them round, too. That way when my blind turners come in, they can get right to the fun stuff. I don't turn many pens for myself these days.
Sharon in Phoenix

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