How did you get your start in pen turning?

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Gilrock

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Oct 18, 2011
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Tucson, AZ
I bought a lathe because my son wanted me to build this project for him and I spent $600 just to be able to make the 4 pieces that needed a bowl shape cut. Can you imagine the reaction from my wife since I really had no other plans for the equipment at the time? LOL
Modular marble machine

Then I decided to try a bowl. After my second bowl I was in Woodcraft and the guy asked me if I had ever tried to make a pen. I was like "A pen? On the lathe? Why would I want to do that?" Of course I can't not know how to do something so the rest is history.
 
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Andrew_K99

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Feb 17, 2011
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Waterdown, ON, Canada
I loved wood shop in school and knew it was something I'd like to do as a hobby. 5 years ago when we bought our house I laid claim to the single car garage and started filling it with the tools needed for wood working. It wasn't long until the small space frustrated me when working on larger projects. A co-worker had showed me a few pens he had made and a trip to the January 2011 wood show confirmed I needed a lathe in the shop, I picked up a little $100 POS lathe and a pen starter kit and haven't looked back. I've already upgraded my lathe and have spent more then I'd like to admit but am having fun doing it.

AK
 

Paul in OKC

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Jul 26, 2004
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Oklahoma City, OK, USA.
Being way too annul/machinist minded to do what I call regular wood work (can't cut boards with a circular saw to +or - .005 or less). I was looking for something wood I could do. Was going to try relief carving because I like geometric patterns. Went to an open house at a wood crafting place and saw a young kid turning something. I thought, 'Lathe, I understand lathe!' Found out it was a pen. Saw that I can be annul with how the wood meets the fittings and wa-la, I'm a penturner! That was about 15+ years ago.
 

dankerr1968

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Apr 4, 2016
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Wisconsin
Interesting thread....

I always thought it would be fun but never got around to it. I took a class at the local WoodCraft store and turned two nice pens that night. Within two months I had a lathe and tools, about a million blanks and boards (and I would not ever lie about that) and a bunch of pen kits.

And got a buddy hooked on it too.

Life is good
 

Rick_G

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Nov 30, 2007
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Bothwell, Ontario, Canada.
Took up woodworking when I retired and a few years later while surfing the net looking for woodworking sites I ran across the Pens for Canadian Peacekeepers site. (link at top of page, Canadian flag) Having served 10 years in the Canadian Air Force in the 60's and 70's I thought that would be cool to do. A few months later Sears had a sale on their Delta midi lathe and I got one. The rest is history. Haven't kept a good count but I figure 150 - 200 have gone to our military men and women. Nearly all of my pens get given away, living in a small town mostly retired and farming in the area when I mention prices for one people look like they are going to have a heart attack. Considering it would be an hours drive and then paying for table space at any of the craft sales or flea markets with no guarantee of even selling any I keep it as a hobby for relaxation and enjoyment.
 

Larryreitz

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Feb 8, 2015
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Salem, CT USA
Since I was a kid I've always had an interest in wood working, but more carpentry than fine craft. I also have a business selling photographic prints on canvas at art & craft shows, where I run across several types of wood crafters selling their wares. While I admired their product, especially the pens, I was also envious of their ability to set up and break down in far less time than I could with my photographs. Since I had a lot of wood working tools for making frames, etc. it kind of hung in the back of my mind that I might want to do this also at some point in time. Now, a couple of years ago at a small show in December a lady selling other stuff had a cup of pens on the table, which were made by her 9 year old son, under the watchful eye of his shop teacher father. He was selling the Slimlines for $8. I didn't think much about it until the father and son were looking at my display. When we got to talking I found out he was the pen maker. It was 2 weeks before Christmas and he really wanted Dad to pony up some extra money so he could buy a $23, 8x8 canvas wrap to give to his twin sister for Christmas. Dad wasn't budging. We talked for a while and finally I asked him if he wanted to make a trade. He ran to get his pens, I selected one and we made the trade. To make the long story short, I figured if a talented 9 year old could do it so could an old retired guy. I bought a lathe and shortly thereafter became addicted.

web site: lreitzphoto.com
 
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jvisaac

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Feb 24, 2016
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Mission Viejo, CA
Was looking for a hobby and remembered how much I enjoyed my junior high school wood shop class as well as some projects at the local boy's club. I decided to take another woodshop class as an adult and one lesson was on using the lathe. I made a simple bowl and I loved it. Decided to do some online research and spent a couple days on craigslist looking for an inexpensive lathe. Luckily I came across an older craftsman for $50 and ordered my first pen kit. Shortly after it arrived I realized I wasn't able to build it because I didn't have a drill press. I finally took a pen turning class 3 weeks ago at my local Woodcraft and was able to create my first pen.
 

dogcatcher

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Jul 4, 2007
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TX, NM or on the road
I have been woodworking since JR High, I bought a lathe before I got out of high school. Years later I saw a wood pen at my attorney's office, I studied it and went home and gutted a gimme advertising pen. My first pen was a kitless pen. then I found out about kits. Pens are not my specialty, I have paid for my "stuff" turning a multitude of stuff.
 

MDWine

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Mar 22, 2005
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Manassas Park, Virginia, USA.
I had a Shopsmith and did flat work. I made bird feeders and houses, and little things for the shop and house. I went to a Shopsmith demo at the local Lowes, and the guy was turning pens. I watched him finish 4 or 5 in the course of a couple of hours. (he had folks to talk to and other demonstrations to do).

That was all it took... I found some tools and kits and started fumbling with it... it was a while before I found IAP. I had some turning friends locally, joined a turners club, fell in with IAP.

My most significant contact was Lou (DCBluesMan) here on IAP. We met at the Springfield Woodcraft.... Another was Griz, who invited me to his shop to show me a thing or two...

I fell "off the wagon" a couple of years back, but the effort with the 'giveaway' lathe has rekindled my love for woodwork (and IAP!)
 

More4dan

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Mar 17, 2016
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Katy, TX
I make custom knives and purchased a month in metal lathe for making parts for folders. My son came home from Freshman shop with a Father's Day gift he made in class for me. A slimline pen in leopard wood. I thought, I could do that on my metal lathe. Had to make a tool rest. It been about 6 months and I'm already making kitless FPs. I haven't made a single knife since I started turning. Loving it!!!!
 

rudya7

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Dec 28, 2008
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New Jersey
I had taken wood shop in HS and really enjoyed the lathe projects, especially the baseball bat that I used for years. When Sears has one of those big old used lathes on its last markdown, back then they dropped the price each week till used items sold, I couldn't resist. I brought it home, set it up on a nice table, and realized I didn't have any turning projects that I could knock out quickly. When a CSUSA or PSI catalog came in with slimline pens listed, I was hooked. I made 9 pen/pencil sets for people I worked with that first year and it has become a tradition.
 

Herb G

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Nov 13, 2015
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Southern Maryland
Like a lot of other people, I took shop class in Jr. high school.
I took graphic design, metal shop & woodworking.
I liked woodworking shop the best of all. After high school, I worked in a boat building shop for 3-4 years. I did a lot of fiberglass work, along with cutting wood from patterns, etc.
I started making fiberglass skateboards on my time off. I paid for my supplies thru my employer & sold the boards to a local skate shop.
I had a decent side business & made a ton of money just doing that.

After 4 years, I developed an allergy to the resins used doing glass work
and had to give it up. My Dad had a few woodworking tools & I puttered around with them building speaker boxes for my friends, etc.

I built stools, shelves, you name it. Never made much money at it, but I had fun doing it. Along came 2 marriages, several dogs, but no kids.
My wife decided she wanted to go to a wood show one day, so we went.
She saw how pens, tops, and other small projects were made & asked if I could do that. I said sure, but I'd need a lathe.

A little while after the wood show, I found a decent lathe on Craigslist.
It's my Grizzly floor lathe. I turned a few Slim lines on it, and decided it was better for making bowls & spindles than pens.
So, for Christmas one year I used my gift money to buy a bench lathe.
I haven't used it a lot since buying it, because I became disabled.

I have been fighting for 4 years now to get my disability, but so far, no luck. It's hard for me to stand for any length of time.
So I have had to adapt my workbench so I can sit down & turn.

I have my good days & my bad days with the pain I suffer from.
I am trying to get back into turning so I can get my money out of my bench lathe at least.

I just bought a bunch of new pen kits from my last Christmas gift money, and I hope to get back to making pens very soon. :)


Thanks for reading.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2010
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Lawrenceville, GA 30043
Buying supplies for...

Was at a nearby Woodcraft buying a supply item for scroll sawing. A gentleman was in there delivering a pen to an employee and buying more kits and materials. After transaction was completed. I asked to see pens and could I have a card. He offered to train me.

I didn't have a lathe. However he said that didn't matter. Well some months later a week after a major surgery I was home, with cabin fever. Called my friend. Drove up to his shop and spent a day with him. Learned a lot about many things including pen making. Oh his shop was on the cold side, but we became good friends. Since then he taught me basics of bowl making and supplied me with samples of many types of local woods.
 

Anglesachse

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Dec 29, 2014
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151
Location
Ratingen, Germany
In 2010 I saw a guy selling pen at the Duesseldorf Christmas market and decided I would have to try this.

On to the Internet and I found Timberbits. Ok, not being someone that goes overboard I bought 20 slimline and 20 Jr, Gent kits.

Next I decided I needed a Lathe!

End of 2011 the lathe was built and I started turning.

My wife saw the result of this and informed me that it would be a good idea if I was to make some for the Company Christmas Party Charity sale.

OK, sold 32 pens and could donate 400,- Euros to the towns child poverty Charity, felt good and I was hooked on pens.
 
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