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Old 06-18-2017, 05:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Dec 2016
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Default How much will it cost?

For those of you who have turned a pen before, how much money has it cost you to turn a pen, assuming you had absolutely nothing to start with? I'm 17 years old and have no lathe, no drills, no fancy tools to make threads or anything of the sort. I'd love to make my own fountain pens, I've got some great ideas I haven't seen before. I'd love it if somebody can make a list of the tools they have and roughly how much they cost, but any information is appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 06-18-2017, 05:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think this may help from the library:

This is a good question, but not easy to answer because of all of the buying decisions and options one needs to make. I would estimate between $600 and $1,200 depending on which model lathe you buy. This assumes buying the goods new and getting some stuff on sales like the lathe and some tools. It cost me given the route that I went about $1,700, but that includes sharpening equipment and a larger lathe than needed. I bet their are folks that can find a way to do under $500, even less if buying used. I am curious as to what others have to say. I hope this helps
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Old 06-18-2017, 05:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The list of tools needed would be subjective to your budget... when I first started I bought a used Jet 1014 & a Delta dust collector off of Craigslist for around $450.00. Didn't have a bench drill press or pen press. Used a hand drill to drill out my blanks & used a clamp to make my pen press.

Initial setup:
Drill press (benchtop or floor standing or use your lathe for this job)
Drill bits (depends on which pen kits you want to make)
Pen press (can use the lathe for this)
Pen kits
Pen blanks
Pen bushings or turn between centers
CA glue (thick, medium, & thin)
Turning tools

Look at your local Craigslist, see what kind of prices you see on used lathes. Look at new lathes & see what prices they are going far.

You can get started for less than $500 or bust the bank buying tools...
Creative Woodcrafts

Last edited by Sataro; 06-18-2017 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi Metehan. I'm 17 also. I've been turning pens for about 2 years now. The cost really depends on how much money and time you want to put into the craft. You can get started for several hundred dollars or several thousand. I actually have a list of the tools you will need and approximate cost. This is pretty much the bare minimum that you need though you might be able to get by with less.

Mini Lathe (approx $250)
Drilling Chuck ($30)
Blank Drilling Chuck ($80)
Pen Mandrel ($28)
Lathe Chisels ($60)
Barrel Trimming Set ($65)
Drill Bit Set ($20)
Something to cut blanks (?)
Pen kits and blanks.
(I used Penn State Ind. links so you could see the tools and approx cost new).

All this adds up to a little over $500. Of course you may be able to find used items for less and less expensive alternatives or you may want to invest a little more and get tools like a drill press and bandsaw.
Seth, a 18-year-old learning from the experts.

I Corinthians 10:31

Last edited by Rolandranch; 06-18-2017 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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thank you all for the information, it's all very useful to me. Thanks so much
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As with anything, there is a trade-off between price and quality, but more expensive isn't always more better. I had some tools to start with, but I will give you my thoughts:

Lathe: mine was gifted to me used, but is valued at about $400 new. Variable speed is nice, but not necessary, and adds some cost. Actually, if you drill on the lathe you will avoid some problems if you don't have variable speed (but you will need to change belt positions to change speed). Mine is not a variable speed, and it doesn't bother me. You will need chisels too, lots of options, I got HSS tools with the lathe but spent $150 on a sharpening system. Carbide might be a better place to start.

Drilling: a good drill press is expensive, and cheap ones don't work very good. You will get better results using the lathe to drill, but you will need some attachments for your lathe. A Jacobs chuck (about $20) to hold the bit, and a chuck to hold the blank. There are lots of options for chucks to hold the blank, I got the Nova G3 ($100), I also got the JSPIN jaws ($40) to better hold the blank.

Trimming: most videos on YouTube they use a barrel trimmer with a drill press to trim the blank flush with the tube. Since I opted to not get a drill press, I went with a disk sander for this task ($100). There are other options out there, this was just my choice.

Mandrel: I recommend going straight to Turning between centers (TBC), you can find a lot of info on IAP on this topic. All you need is a dead and live center. The TBC bushings are a little more expensive, but since you haven't already purchased standard bushings the added cost will be minimal. I started with an inexpensive mandrel and wasn't happy with the results.

Other stuff: a hand saw will get you by with cutting. I personally think a table saw is the most versatile saw for woodworking, I have a contractor saw that has been very useful ($300). If you go with TBC, and you want to do high-end pens, you will also need a decent digital calipers.

All said and done, I think you can make a pen with an initial cost of about $600. But a lot will depend on your choices. New vs used tools, high end versus budget, power vs hand tool, etc.

I hope this helps, best of luck!
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Old 06-18-2017, 06:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hello Metehan!
I started turning pens when I was fourteen. When I first started, my dad didn't have very much money to spend on getting me started. I basically had to use the money I earned from working to pay for most of the tools to start off with. Unless you have the funds, you don't necessarily need super nice tools. I started off with a Harbor Freight lathe, a Harbor Freight drill press and some of the other necessary tools from Ebay. So, essentially, you could probably start pen turning for about $500. Over the past two years, ever since I started turning, my dad has been able to, along with the selling of my pens, buy more tools.
All the lists of tools that the people before me posted are the tools you'll need. I didn't start off with all those tools, but they sure do make pen turning a whole lot more rewarding.
Trust takes a lifetime to obtain, but a moment to lose.
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Old 06-18-2017, 10:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Instead of buying everything why not try it to see if it's something you really want to do. Go here: American Association of Woodturners and look up an AAW chapter near you and see if they have a mentor near you. Or you might find a local IAP member near you who'll give you a lesson and help you down the path.
Mr Vic

Keep the shiny side up and the greasy side down.......

President Pikes Peak Woodturners - AAW Chapter
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Old 06-18-2017, 10:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I admire your ambition to make a fountain pen. I hope you will consider doing some slimlines first. Slimlines, while not as sexy are considerable cheaper. You are going to make mistakes. Better to learn on the low end than ruin an expensive fountain pen. Good luck on your turning. Be sure to posts some pictures of your first pens.

Over the years I have learned that there are only three types of people in this world....those who can count and those who can't.
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Old 06-19-2017, 12:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Here are a few links with info:

What should newbies know?

Starting out-inexpensively what do I HAVE to have?

Starting out-I only want to buy things once-what is best?


Non Impedite Raditioni Cogitationis.
(Unencumbered by the thought process.)
Tom and Ray Magliozzi

Last edited by thewishman; 06-19-2017 at 12:27 AM. Reason: Added link
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