Confused about all the types

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Doctor G

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Joined
Sep 3, 2020
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4
Location
Woodland, Wa
New pen turner here. I am so confused with all the item names with different names from different venders and different levels of cost. For example the slimline with different types and costs. Is there anywhere that explains about all these for newbies? Why is a kit at $2.70 and another type is $10 or $20? What is it about them? Or do I have to buy them and find out that way? I’m sure I’m not the first to ask.
 
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donstephan

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Jul 24, 2016
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Cincinnati Ohio
Like anything else, you get what you pay for. If you've ever used for a while a cheap promotional pen, you probably noticed the metal coating rubbed off. Longer lasting coatings cost more. Same with sources that stand behind their products. And no doubt their are very similar kits from different suppliers with slightly different names, to try to get your on-going business. My suggestion is to pick a reputable supplier, study the literature on the web site, order two or three different "styles" such as a slim, a medium, and a thick pen body (cigar?}, get or make some basic wood blanks, and make a few pens just for the experience. If all works out well, get more of the same or p;erhaps some different kits from the same supplier, again basic wood blanks, and make some more just for the experience. After 6 to 10 you will have a bit of experience, then you can start to look at the same styles with different metal coatings and/or different styles and focus on workmanship.
 

magpens

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Feb 2, 2011
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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
It actually is quite confusing and I am not surprised you feel that way.

I think you are getting just a little overly stressed out by the nature of this hobby/business.

You need to focus initially on one kit to start with and gradually become accustomed to things.

Most people will suggest you start with a slimline kit and you can if you wish, but that would not be my advice.
I would suggest that you start with a Sierra twist kit. . In my opinion that will be easier for starters.
My reason is that the Sierra twist has just one barrel to turn, and the results you get will most likely be pleasing and encouraging.
The slimline is actually a harder kit to make, partly because it has two barrels. . Also, the results are not as pleasing.

The Sierra twist will cost more, but it is worth it.

Once you get started, you will get used to the confusing variety of options with different names and prices.
But for starters focus on one kit and gradually things will begin to come together for you.
 
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magpens

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Feb 2, 2011
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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Since this is your fist post, I should say ..... Warm welcome to IAP !!! :D ..... . I hope you enjoy this hobby. . Be sure to ask questions.
You will find that there is lots of willing assistance .
 

dgsearle

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Joined
Apr 12, 2020
Messages
11
Location
Michigan
Welcome to IAP. I am just a few months shy of 1 year making pens (and woodworking in general) so I can tell you some of the things that have helped me.
  1. I bought "The Pen Turner's Bible"
  2. In the resources section of this site is a PDF of 20 pen kit suppliers specs for bushings and tubes. I imported that into Excel so I can search on my computer while I am planning my builds. It is very helpful since many of the suppliers have similar kits that they call different names.
  3. Also in the resources section is an App for either Apple or Android which contains the same information (and more). This is a HUGE help when I am out and looking at the different kits and thinking about trying something new.
  4. The pen making forums. There are a lot of opinions and not everything will work for you, but every single time I read through them I learn something. It doesn't always work out for me, but I learn something with every attempt.
Also, I tend to agree with Magpens, that the Sierra type kits are a bit easier - if for no other reason than you don't have to worry about the grain match.

Anyway, I hope this helps at least a little bit.
 

1080Wayne

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Feb 5, 2006
Messages
2,910
Location
Brownfield, Alberta, Canada.
One more for the Sierra suggestion , with the addition that you go with the standard chrome plating . It may not look as fancy as some of the others , but it is very durable and costs less . Note , the nib end barrel diameter is the most critical of the Sierra dimensions . The finial end diameter is forgiving , and so is the barrel length , which can be shortened by nearly 1/4 inch .
 

Roger Wilco

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Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
24
Location
Southern California
Hi Doctor G!
Welcome. I'm still new to pen turning and I hear what you're saying. I don't disagree with what everybody said above. I have only turned the slim line pens because that's what I learned to turn at a Rockler class. I generally wait 'til they go on sale for $2.00 per kit. Then I buy ten of them. Cheap. I've been very happy with my results, but perhaps that's cuz I'm so new I don't really know what a lousy pen result is supposed to look like. The pens I've seen here have blown me away and yeah...they are not slim lines. BUT I'm sure you can find some gorgeous slim lines in the photos section. Have you taken a class yet, or are you learning from scratch on your own?

-Ed-
 

alanemorrison

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Joined
Jan 15, 2019
Messages
977
Location
N Ireland
Welcome to the forum, Harris.
I agree with Mal's comments.
The reason that people start with slimlines is mostly because they are cheap.
My advice is to start with one barrel pens but to buy about 10 extra tubes as well and practice away with them.
That's a lot cheaper way to start and if you don't like the way it looks then just turn it off and start again.
You don't have to make a pen from every tube that you turn, but only when you are happy with the end result.
Enjoy your hobby, that's the main thing.
Alan
 

Jans husband

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May 4, 2020
Messages
30
Location
Doncaster England
I like the Streamline pen, and am pleased with the results I get, but I am not in the same league as most of you. I agree Alan-enjoy!!

here are a couple of recent examples. The glitzy one is for a friend's daughter who is a dancer, and I thought the blank to be suitable

Mike
 

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Like you, I struggled at first to figure it all out. Get ready to spend some time going from website to website. I would suggest you make yourself a comfortable pen, get a nice pad of paper and write down info on each pen from each site you visit. A lot of vendors carry the Trim Line, I think it's the same as the Streamline pens etc. It's an easy turn and a fairly inexpensive kit. PSI has a sale on them right now,
Item #: PKXMPAK
Our Price: $25.25

That's for a 12 pack. Check it out and if you also belong to a wood working group you can apply for a further discount with their turners club if you sign up for it.
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
Messages
7,534
Location
Tunica, MS,
Calipers, Yes (wouldentu2)! Pen and note pad, Yes (Tom-Wolf Creek Knives)!

There were probably only about 20 Total pen options when I started. And the explosion in options over the years has become confusing to me today. I don't turn or sell for income, but rather as a relaxing hobby, - but something a few have written who DO sell for income makes sense even for me, and it would apply to those just stating out: Focus on a few types of pens and learn to do them well. Later, try and experiment with others as you wish. Don't bother about the new ones that come out until you are ready.

Create a base of 3, 4, or 5 types of pen that really interest you, and learn to do them well. If you like a design as it appears in your browser or in a catalog . . . and then you find that you don't like it as you make it (the design [proportions] in hand does not totally match the browser/catalog), then move along to another. But start with a limited few that appeal to you. If you find one that appeals to you - but it seems cheap after you get it, ask here if there is an alternative in a better quality pen component.

Welcome!
 

WriteON

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Joined
Aug 21, 2013
Messages
2,362
Location
Lake Worth,Fl. / BlueBell, Pa.
New pen turner here. I am so confused with all the item names with different names from different venders and different levels of cost. For example the slimline with different types and costs. Is there anywhere that explains about all these for newbies? Why is a kit at $2.70 and another type is $10 or $20? What is it about them? Or do I have to buy them and find out that way? I’m sure I’m not the first to ask.
Master the slimies. You’ll get good experience that will help with everything you do in the future. When you get bored move to something else (3/8th kits) Welcome to IAP
 

Doctor G

Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Woodland, Wa
Hi Doctor G!
Welcome. I'm still new to pen turning and I hear what you're saying. I don't disagree with what everybody said above. I have only turned the slim line pens because that's what I learned to turn at a Rockler class. I generally wait 'til they go on sale for $2.00 per kit. Then I buy ten of them. Cheap. I've been very happy with my results, but perhaps that's cuz I'm so new I don't really know what a lousy pen result is supposed to look like. The pens I've seen here have blown me away and yeah...they are not slim lines. BUT I'm sure you can find some gorgeous slim lines in the photos section. Have you taken a class yet, or are you learning from scratch on your own?

-Ed-
No class yet. Learning from YouTube, sites like this and experience. Unfortunately I’ve bought slim lines but my next purchase will be Sierras.
 

Roger Wilco

Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
24
Location
Southern California
I don't think there's anything wrong with Slimlines. They're inexpensive and you can make some really nice pens with them. If you've already bought 'em. Use 'em! Good ones to start with in my opinion.
 
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