Advice

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TonyL

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
6,302
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
I like the PSI Executive for starting out. https://www.exoticblanks.com/Executive-Pen-Kit-24KT-Satin.html

single barrel
both ends are the same diameter
has some "meat" to it
relatively inexpensive
takes a Parker refill

I am teaching a beginner's class tomorrow and that is the pen that I am going to turn. There are many options; this is just my recommendation.

Welcome to the forum!
 

pshrynk

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2017
Messages
208
Location
Lake City, Minnesota
I started off with Slimlines because it's what came with the lathe. There were also EZ blanks already drilled, so you can get into it faster. I made plenty of crap pens before I started getting the hang of it, too. I've not tried the Executive, but the points Tony makes are good ones.
 

magpens

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
10,015
Location
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Hi there, Hunter !!! . Welcome to IAP !!!

Best pen kit for starting is the 30 Caliber Bolt Action pen kit. Best to buy it from ExoticBlanks.com, which is a super great vendor to go to for almost everything.

This kit has:
Single barrel with uniform diameter, Parker refill, innovative and interesting design, satisfying WOW factor when completed.

I recommend an acrylic blank for it ... particularly the "Fire and Ice" acrylic blank ... buy several. You can make two pens from each one.

Or if you want to do a wood blank, I would recommend Desert Ironwood (DIW) ... buy it from member here called wood128 ... fantastic wood & seller.
This wood is very attractive, easy to turn, and you can even get away without applying any finish to it ... and it looks superb. . Good match for the kit.
 
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tbfoto

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
309
Location
Lafayette, Indiana
Hi Hunter, welcome to the forum. Good to see that you found us here on IAP. This is THE place to get advice for pen turning. Lots of good people here with a lot of experience. One key thing I will advise you is to practice, practice, practice. Your skills will develop as you go along.



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moke

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2009
Messages
923
Location
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hi Hunter, Welcome....
I very much agree with TonyL that the executive is a great kit for the reasons he described, but I would like to add a Patrizio. They are really beefy in that the tubes end up thick, you could actually get three sections out of a blank, when you only need two....(in case if accidents...you can still be in the "game") and the transmissions can be lightly oiled to make them an extremely smooth functioning pen. (Make sure if you oil a transmission to not use too much oil and let it sit for a day or two to allow the excess oil to escape...otherwise, it will ruin a shirt for someone...DAMHIKT) And they are easy to put together.
Just my opinion, I am sure there are many more folks that have great ideas too.
 

RobS

Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2016
Messages
522
Location
Carlsbad, CA
Hi Hunter,

I second the executive pen kit from pennstateindustries (resold pretty much every where). It is a seller to both men and women. I tend to sell 90% gunmetal hardware, it goes with almost anything, young or old. The single barrel really cuts down on the labor.
An alternative to the slim line is the Euro Design, but I would tr the executive first.
 

Texas Taco

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2005
Messages
368
Location
Southeast Texas
My suggestion is as has been said above, stick with a single blank design to build your skills and confidence. I would do wood instead of the manufactured blanks, more forgiving as you're learning to turn and drill the blanks.

My biggest advice, turn, turn, turn.
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
6,710
Location
Tunica, MS,
Welcome to IAP! What is best for you? To be honest, that has been a question asked dozens of times and any which way you start will probably work. Single blank pens give you one learning experience, dual blanks give you a different set of learning experiences and there is not that much difference in the end.

So what is your purpose in looking for the easiest to get started? Learning how to make a good pen fast? Here is another thought: Make one or two pens, single blank or double blank and get that behind you. THEN get a few slimline tubes (they are cheap). Get a foot long piece of pine 2x4 and cut it into blank size pieces, drill a dozen, glue it and spend a day PRACTICING, Practicing drilling, Practice turning, practice measuring the size of the turning with calipers, practice sanding and finishing. I promise you if you do this on a bunch of blanks from 2x4 pine for 3 to 4 hours and then go to a slimline or single blank pen, you will be a week ahead in experience in a few hours and you will be proud of the fit and finish of the first one you turn after that!

It is not which one is easier, it is how much you can master in each step. 2 to 3 hours of practice in turning, sanding and finishing without looking ahead to a finished pen will show up on the next pen!

Oh, and here is a good link from the experiences of others: https://www.penturners.org/threads/if-i-had-known-this-earlier.46654/
 

greenacres2

Member
Joined
May 2, 2017
Messages
889
Location
Northwest IN
Hey Hunter--welcome aboard!!
There is a pretty active Chicagoland chapter https://www.penturners.org/forums/chicagoland.381/ meets at the Rockler store in Bolingbrook on the 3rd Saturday of even months. I'll probably not be able to make the June 15 session (at noon, later than normal--conflicts with my grandson's last T-ball game in Kalamazoo!!). My nephew should be there, along with about 30 or so other supportive folks.

You've gotten good advice above, not much i can add other than to wish you success!!
earl
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
143
It might help if we had a sense of your budget. Are you on a tight budget like many 16 year olds, or can you afford to buy nicer blanks and pen kits?

Here is my advice:

* Turn wood first. Wood is easier and more forgiving. It won't take long before you are good at it.

* As soon as you have roughed your blank from a block into a cylinder, you get a chance to practice and play. If you make a mistake, there is plenty of wood left to fix it. Here are some things you can practice and play with:

Try different turning tools to see how they work and what they can do.
Compare high speed steel (HSS) versus carbide turning tools.
Learn to make different shapes - beads, coves, V's, lines, etc.
Practice with a skew chisel until you are so good with it that sanding is unnecessary.
Try burning with a wire.
Learn how to turn a perfect cylinder pen. Check your work with calipers and a short straightedge with a white card behind it.
Finish the pen with CA. Turn it off. Finish it again with CA. Turn it off. Repeat until you are good with CA finishes.
Try other finishes. Finish, turn, repeat.
-> Once you reach a certain point, you should stop practicing and focus on turning the pen-in-progress.

* Buy spare tubes to match your pen kits. Spare tubes remove the stress of worrying about turning failures. If something goes wrong, just grab another tube and some wood, and don't look back.

* Wood for pens is easy to find. You can cut up almost anything wood to make pen blanks. Dry wood boards can be cut into pen blanks. I have also made pen blanks from old furniture and fallen branches (after drying). Put out the word and you will get plenty of wood. Ask your parents' to ask their friends. Talk with teachers, social groups (like church families), etc. Scrounge around shops that work with wood, like cabinet makers. Very quickly you will find that you have a great deal of wood, much more than you can use. Most of it will be plain and uninteresting, but It will make nice wood pens that finish well and feel good. Soon you will learn to seek out the better woods that yield better looking pens.

* Find a woodworking club in your area. They may be able to offer advice and experience, plus maybe spare tools or wood.
 

Woodchipper

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
2,470
Location
Cleveland, TN
penicillin has the cure! Lots of practice is the key. I see your general location and trust some pen turners in the area to contact you to assist. My grandson and I took penturning classes at Woodcraft. Both times, we used a roughing gouge. Working on learning the skew which is said to give a great finish. Learn to turn between centers which is turning without bushings. Got this on my ever-growing list.
 

scrofts1219

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
41
I’ve been turning a while and really enjoy it. But one of my biggest thrills is teaching young people how turn. My audiences are my grandkids and youth in my church. They love it. I’ve worked one on one with approximately 20 teenagers and here’s what I’d recommend:

Do single barrel pens. The girls love the Executive. The boys love the bolt action kits. All of those use 3/8” drill bits and trimmers.

When you buy the kit order extra tubes. They’re cheap.

Do not do acrylics until you feel confident. Getting them to round was traumatic for them and the three that tried switched to a wood backup.

All preferred, by far, carbide R2 cutters over HSS tools.

Carefully “hold their hands” but take them through a CA finish. They get so proud of the results.




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