If I had known this earlier . .

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Don Gaiser

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May 16, 2009
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Port Angeles WA.
Why is this so?
Every video I have seen, and every tutorial I have read, all use these tools. Can you please explain the nature of the other option? :biggrin:

Knowing that a mandrel, bushings and a good CA finish are counter-productive. Attempting to use them all together will cause poor fit or sanding through the finish.
 
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leehljp

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Why is this so?
Every video I have seen, and every tutorial I have read, all use these tools. Can you please explain the nature of the other option? :biggrin:
Don,

Lots of people achieve good results with mandrels. However, if a mandrel is not perfect, or if a person does not have the experience for the right "feel" in tightening the tail stock against the mandrel, or overly aggressive cuts or not perfect cuts, the pressure of the chisel can distort the mandrel. Lots of ways for things to go wrong. That said, many many people have no problem with it and in such case there is no need to change for change's sake.

Mandrel-less is basically new in comparison to mandrel turning and people don't like to change unless there are problems. There are lots of posts on this forum concerning your question.
 

Daniel

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Jan 1, 2004
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Reno, NV, USA.
Lesse, A better quality lathe is worth the money. expect to spend it. The tools sharpening systems are worth the expense also so plan to spend that money. and finally. there are low cost things that claim to be dust collectors. don't waste your money. If it is not $1000 you are not even looking at the bad stuff yet. Just get over it quick and accept that it is part of the cost of doing things safely.
You don't "Need" a band saw, or even a drill press. pens can be pressed together in many many ways. making pens on a cheap (poor quality) Lathe can very well cause you to quit the hobby. Put your money where it will get the most use, your lathe.
Finally if you are looking for a quick easy and low cost hobby, keep on looking cause this ain't it.
 

TomW

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Mar 23, 2009
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Allen, Texas
there are low cost things that claim to be dust collectors. don't waste your money. If it is not $1000 you are not even looking at the bad stuff yet. Just get over it quick and accept that it is part of the cost of doing things safely.
Sorry...Strongly disagree.... I think this is overstated by about 100%. Perhaps for a production system with employees at the tools, but for a hobby, a good 1 micron dust collector, an open door, a big fan, etc. There are lots of alternatives that dont cost $1000.

Tom
 

GouletPens

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You may not 'need' a drill press, but it's faster than drilling on the lathe. Also, if you're only planning to do pens, then by the time you've spent the money on the chuck and pin jaws and jacobs chuck to be able to drill on the lathe, you have basically spent what you would on a drill press anyway. Drilling on the lathe is better though if you're tight on space and have more time than money.
 

Chris Bar

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Oct 9, 2008
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Tennessee
Old CA will cause headaches (obtaining a good finish). Clerk insisted that although it was their last bottle, it was fresh because it sells so fast. Lesson...do not ignore the inner voice and the years of experience telling you otherwise, on new glue or otherwise.
 

RAdams

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i must admit, i didnt read this entire thread, but from all of the posts i did read, there are several people that are dogging the kits. if you dont use these kits, then what kits do you use? kitless only? and if so, then where do you get whatever parts you do use?
 

leehljp

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i must admit, i didnt read this entire thread, but from all of the posts i did read, there are several people that are dogging the kits. if you dont use these kits, then what kits do you use? kitless only? and if so, then where do you get whatever parts you do use?
Ron,

I know that when I moved from slimlines to Barons - I loved them . . . and then within a few months saw how quickly the gold plating rubbed off of the cheaper gold. Then I noticed that on others. I enjoyed the price though, :biggrin: but in the end, it wasn't worth it to me. I had to evaluate the plating in my choice of pen kits. Many people here do that and refuse to work with certain platings because of this.

Many of us tend to start with less expensive kits and move up - even to closed-ends, semi-kitless, or kitless. Closed ends and Kitless allows far more expression and freedom but demands more skill and insight. Hard to go back once that starts. I am not there yet but hope to do some in the next couple of years.

Some people make their own parts, some use fitting, nibs, and transmissions from quality kits. To each his own. There is a broad spectrum here and many are very content with the lesser priced kits - and make good money from the sale of them.
 
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jusaf

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Jun 17, 2009
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Ewa Beach, HI
I would have loved to know that woodcraft doesn't have the best prices and that ordering online results in better prices. I would have liked to have found the IAP from the beginning.
 

cnirenberg

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You may not 'need' a drill press, but it's faster than drilling on the lathe. Also, if you're only planning to do pens, then by the time you've spent the money on the chuck and pin jaws and jacobs chuck to be able to drill on the lathe, you have basically spent what you would on a drill press anyway. Drilling on the lathe is better though if you're tight on space and have more time than money.
I agree with you there brother. I wish I didn't buy that piece of crap, but where would I put all the magnetic holder stuff anyway?
 

alamocdc

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Apr 26, 2005
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The biggest thing for me was starting with the wrong lathe. I tried to save money by going cheap... read Harbor Freight. If you "know" that you have no asperations for turning anything larger than 10" in diameter, go with a Jet Mini or Delta Midi... period.

If you think you might want to do larger turnings, go ahead and buy a larger lathe. I could have saved myself about $600 if I'd gone straight to my Powermatic. I don't turn that many pens on it (I have two Delta midis), but I still use it for drilling, etc., and there is one style of kitless pen that I use it for exclusively.
 

Stephen

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Oct 20, 2007
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Singapore, 568198.
Just to add - Thanks to John (jttheclockman) who referred me to IAP from wood on line forum in 2007. Not sure if I had thanked John for his lead. Well never too late. Thanks John. Finding IAP made a world of difference to pen turning. Thanks Everyone.
 

bfgladden

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Feb 12, 2009
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Roanoke, VA
I wish I could go back and stop myself from buying crystal coat and put my money into a big bottle of CA. Oh, and drilling on the lathe.
 

Daniel

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Reno, NV, USA.
I wish I had known more about lathes in general before buying one. my decision was pretty much price only on my first one ($100) function on my second ($300 plus accessories of about $500 so far). I was also surprised at the cost of equipment to keep tools sharp. I also wish I had know the importance of top quality (relatively expensive) kits and materials before I spent so much money on P.S.I. slimlines and plain old wood blanks.
 

dasimm

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Jan 7, 2009
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Colleyville Texas
I wish I would have known long ago that failure is just another path to success! The tutorials and reviews here are excellent and are a great source of information.

Ultimately though you get better by doing.

I feel like the mistakes I made along the way helped me become a better turner, a smarter consumer, a more knowledgeable vendor, and to think about what I'm doing, and the money I'm spending.

FWIW - I also agree that this is one of the absolute best sites for help and information for any virtual community - bar none.
 

GouletPens

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I'm actually very thankful that I was ingorant to how much money pen turning cost when I first started, b/c I think if I would have told my wife "yeah, it's going to be about $10,000, I'll always be boring you with detailed pen talk, and you'll never park your car in the garage ever again", she never would have let me start!!!!:eek::biggrin:
 

Marc

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3355 Lookout Pl Reno NV 89503
Reading through this thread, I felt like I could have written many of the posts. I am a rookie turner, about 18 months into it and while I mostly do pens, I have had some success with pepper mills and even saved a couple of bowls before they became piles of sawdus.

Yes, I have purchased most of my supplies through woodcraft, and realize that I am paying a premium. I will say our local woodcraft store has been a great place to get tips and to learn. I also like to see my actual pen blank or bowl blank before I buy it. So many of the woods that are the name you want or just not distinctive. I most like burl woods, but also enjoy some laminating.

One thing I still don't do very well is to photograph each pen and log in the type of wood, the type of pen, date and who I sold or gave it to.

Enjoy this forum so far - this is my first post. Think I'll go over to the introduction thread and introduce myself.

Marc from Reno NV
 

Marc Phillips

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Jun 1, 2004
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Columbus, GA, USA.
No regrets really....

I look on this whole pen turning hobby as a constant learning process anyway, so yea, I have spent money and then spent money again and again and again...

.... but

I have learned the whole way... I am on my 4th lathe... whodathunkit! .... but along the way I learned a ton and really, those lathes were the best I could afford at the time.

I started with a mandrel and carnauba wax finish... now I turn between centers and use a CA finish... I started with $1.65 slimlines... and don't regret any of those pens... I learned! ... and I would not have turned a decent pen anyhoo no matter how great a kit I had back then... so blowing a $1.65 was a good deal.

It was a progression... when I came across a problem, or grew more demanding of the quality of my finished product, I started reading here and other places to try and make myself smarter... I read that the skew was the tool to use... and the majority of opinions of those I respected online was that you just had to bite the bullet and learn this tool, so I did. Kind of a long learning curve, but the result is that I am comfortable with the tool now.

I had a problem with out-of-round pens, so asked here and the overwhelming answer was to switch to turning between centers... so I did.

Sharpening... man, lemme tell ya... every time I am silly enough to think "now THAT is sharp" I learn a better way online! ... I just recently started using slip stones on my gouges and a diamond stone for my skew... Mo Bettah for me!

If I had known how much better this lathe was than the previous lathes, I could not have done anything about it anyway... sure glad I have it now though! ... but I sure don't regret those other lathes or tools... they were the stepping stones along the way to learning.

I still have a long way to go... but I sure am enjoying the trip.

... and thanks to all the incredible talent here... I feel like a sponge and you all are the bucket of water pouring on me! ... I try to absorb all and try nearly everything I read about...

Great thread Hank...
 

omb76

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Jan 1, 2009
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Cartersville, GA
As far as processes go, probably wouldn't change too much. Learning by the mistakes I made is part of the fun. I felt like a genius the day I figured out to paint the inside of the drilled acrylic pen blank instead of just the tube so it wouldn't show through. :) I also thought about suggesting getting good quality turning tools, but if you don't already know the proper way to sharpen them, then go with cheapies and learn on those first like I did Probably the one thing I would suggest is to not start out with a slimline pen for your first. Try a sierra first, simple one tube and straight cuts. Also, buy extra pen tubes!
 

excalibur

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Oct 7, 2009
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Aurora, MO
I wish I had known more about lathes in general before buying one. my decision was pretty much price only on my first one ($100) function on my second ($300 plus accessories of about $500 so far). I was also surprised at the cost of equipment to keep tools sharp. I also wish I had know the importance of top quality (relatively expensive) kits and materials before I spent so much money on P.S.I. slimlines and plain old wood blanks.
I agree and disagree here - as a new turner the cheaper sets where GREAT to inexpensively learn the basics on - like my "better" lathe more - I really disagree with the plain old wood blanks comment - most of my pens are wood (I do use other materials) and for the most part I like the wood better - I feel that anything man makes can not match the natural beauty of wood - while some wood is boring it is the skill of the turner to get the most out of your material - also for great quality supplies try Wood-N-Whimsies - the cost is good and the customer service Tim and Tracy deliver is bar none :good:
As for what I personally "wish I knew" - I spent a year "flying solo" before I stumbled on IAP (SW MO Chapter) and I have felt welcome and learned so much from the forum and membership - wish I had found this earlier.
I wish I had realized the "total" cost to turn that beautiful wood I bought into sellable pens.
I wish all of you had a wife that is not only willing to support the "habit" but can not wait to get into the shop with you (yeah guys she fishes with me too :biggrin: ).
 

Len Shreck

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Nov 9, 2009
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Pennsylvania
Well all I just sat here and read every post on this Thread and now I am kinda confused. I am very new to the whole turning thing and have never even TRIED to turn a pen, I don't even know the terminology yet. I am looking to get a new Lathe and read on a diff thread that the HF 34706 works well for doing pens is this true? I have also been looking at a Grizzly G0624 what would work better for Pen Turning? My next question is if you had to pick ONE style pen for a beginner to start with what would it be and what type of material is most "forgiving" for a new/beginner to start out with. anyone can email me at lshreck@hotmail.com just please put Pen Turning in the subject line with info. Thanks Len Shreck
 

dankc908

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Mar 24, 2009
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Council Bluffs, IA
I guess my "wish I had ... " list centers around my complete shop - not just my pen turning. I wish I had invested in better quality tools the first time I bought. I had to replace my cheap Menard's tablesaw with a nice Ridgid Contractor's table saw. I just replaced my cheap Menard's Tool Shop with a JET 12" drill press. I replaced my cheap Sears scroll saw with a nice DeWalt scroll saw. I am currently satisfied with my Turncrafter Pro VS but I do look at the JETs with a little yearning. I have made myself a promise -- No more cheap power tools!
 

meshel

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Jul 9, 2006
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Moshav Gimzo, Israel.
I did this before I ever purchased or touched a lathe, and I would do it again... and recommend it to everyone.

Take a beginners course on woodturning from a good teacher!!!

This will save you a lot of money, time, and frustration starting out. Also there is nothing quite like actually turning / being near a turner to learn this craft/profession - you can never achieve this level of knowledge and skill from reading (even this great site) or watching a video. Hands on is the way to go.

And no I don't offer courses - but I will gladly teach you something for free if you come over (you need to buy a plane ticket to Israel in order to do that, but my door is always open!)
 

Lenny

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Jan 6, 2009
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Searsport, Maine
I wish I had known....
1. That CA glue is better left for finishing pens and not gluing the tubes in.
2. That brass tubes will show through some acrylics if you don't paint the tubes/blanks.
I'm glad I didn't know...
1. How much this hobby was going to cost. =0)
I'm glad I did know...
1. Enough to come to IAP for the best info on pen turning!
 

BigShed

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Feb 14, 2008
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Adelaide, SA, Australia.
I already had most of the major tools before I became interested in pen turning, so didn't buy those with pen turning in mind.

I bought my lathe (MC900 with Reeves pulley variable speed) at a clearing sale for $100, thinking it might come in handy one day. I had a wood lathe about 35 years ago, but life and a family sort of got in the way of doing much with it, so it got sold.

Now that I have become interested (read obsessed) in pen turning, the one decision I regret is the bandsaw. It is a very nice 14" generic bandsaw with an aftermarket fence, but when you look at some of the logs and burls I am now cutting, a 17", or better still a 19", bandsaw is on my wishlist.

Having bought a metal lathe with EVS (electronic variable speed) the Reeves pulley system and the overall lack of quality of the generic MC900 is trying my patience so I have eyeing off a new EVSequipped wood lathe (same as the Laguna 18 x 47).
 

Jgrden

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hOUSTON, Texas
I wish I had known....
1. That CA glue is better left for finishing pens and not gluing the tubes in.
2. That brass tubes will show through some acrylics if you don't paint the tubes/blanks.
I'm glad I didn't know...
1. How much this hobby was going to cost. =0)
I'm glad I did know...
1. Enough to come to IAP for the best info on pen turning!
Lenny: maybe CA isn't the best for gluing tubes in BUT isn't it a little time consuming and wasteful to mix epoxy just to glue tubes in??? What else can we use, Gorilla glue? Takes all night to dry.
 

Lenny

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Lenny: maybe CA isn't the best for gluing tubes in BUT isn't it a little time consuming and wasteful to mix epoxy just to glue tubes in??? What else can we use, Gorilla glue? Takes all night to dry.
I usually use Sumo glue for wood blanks. It's like the gorilla glue but has a shorter wait time. If I want to turn the blanks right away I use the syringe like tubes of 5 minute epoxy. I buy them at Job Lots for $1.50 and only squirt out enough to do 1 or 2 blanks at a time. I can get several blanks glued up from one tube and they will be set up and ready for trimming to size in no time. (I usually give them an hour just to be sure)
I like to plug the tubes with playdough and work a little glue into the blank as well with a q-tip before spreading it on the tube and inserting it. Usually a lot comes off that can be scraped off the end and used on the next one.
 

Jgrden

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I usually use Sumo glue for wood blanks. It's like the gorilla glue but has a shorter wait time. If I want to turn the blanks right away I use the syringe like tubes of 5 minute epoxy. I buy them at Job Lots for $1.50 and only squirt out enough to do 1 or 2 blanks at a time. I can get several blanks glued up from one tube and they will be set up and ready for trimming to size in no time. (I usually give them an hour just to be sure)
I like to plug the tubes with playdough and work a little glue into the blank as well with a q-tip before spreading it on the tube and inserting it. Usually a lot comes off that can be scraped off the end and used on the next one.
I see. Sumo glue. Hmmmmm
 

discdogs

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Dec 30, 2009
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Vandalia/Dayton, OH
Just turned by first pen a couple days ago. I would say, that all the above is/are good suggestions. I was fortunate enough to read some of this and tap my uncle's experience. I'm sure my answer will change over the next few pens, but after the first one here's my top 3:
1) buy extra tubes
2) take your time, read posts, view videos, get the Penturning book (but you might want to read the first chapters before you turn to the one that says, "how to make the slimline")
3) buy more than one kit of the same kind to start...you might mess that up too. DAMHIK (I like that new acronym!) Buy a couple cheap kits to start with. You can give those out after you have some stock built up.

Future and always a good recommendation...Don't skimp on tools and power tools. I always research my purchases, and unfortunately don't let price be a huge factor, unless we're talking adding zeros.
 

lawry76

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May 5, 2005
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46
Location
Peoria, Illinois, USA.
Discovering micro mesh made a huge change in my pen making. I could turn okay but my finishing left a lot to be desired. I wish I would have started with comfort style pens. I've always thought slim lines were a bad place to begin. And I echo what has been said above about tools. I started with wood chisels.
 

jttheclockman

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Feb 22, 2005
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NJ, USA.
Looking back now I probably wish I had developed an interest in pen turning sooner. I have been woodworking for over 35 years so I have collected the majority of tools and was just getting into turning about 4 years ago. But I did stumble on this site and made sure I read and asked a ton of questions about turning pens and finishing and probably started to become annoying because I was not showing any. I like to investagate my adventures before taking them on. But I think it paid off because I picked up on the turning part and even the CA finishing part rather easily.

So as I said I wish I started this a little sooner.
 

Rfturner

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Jan 10, 2010
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Santa Maria, CA
What I could have done better

Fortunately I learned how to use the lathe from Mr. Crandall, Great high school woodshop teacher. so I avoided many but not all mistakes. what I learned to do is investigate which Lathe and tools were the best that I could afford. I went with the PSI turncrafter pro VS, Ryobi belt and spindle sander combo, Delta 14 inch Band saw, use my dad's old '72 peerless drill press, I easily have $2000 invested in tools alone.

What I would have done differently though is I wish I...
1. PHOTOGRAPHED EVERY PEN/kept record of what it was made from
2.found this forum sooner
3. knew how much my work was worth, practically gave my pens away in the begining
 

Rcd567

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Sep 22, 2007
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240
Location
Glenwood, Iowa, USA.
I concure with most everything written here. I was a member here for quite some time before I bought a lathe. I'm pretty satisfied with the Jet 12x20 I got (except they never paid me the $50 rebate! )

Bigger tools are way better with my old hands. I still get cramping, but have learned to live with it.

Buy a nice quality floor mat to stand on. You'll thank me later. ;)

I've also become addicted to burl turning and all the frustration associated with it.

My wife is my best customer.
 

mranum

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Oct 26, 2009
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Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Lots of great advice here in this thread, but for those reading who haven't done much wood working or bought any tools don't think you need to spend tons of cash. Take your time and aquire old tools and if necessary do some refurbishing, this does two things, you get some old very well made iron and you get to know the tool intimately. I've been playing with wood for over 15 years and with very little excess money to spend I built a pretty decent outfitted shop in that time. I think most of my stationary tools were born around 1950 and most of my hand tools were born around the early 1900's and work just as good and sometimes better than the mid-ranged priced tools you can buy today.

Estate sales and local auctions, and the local swap shop type program on your AM radio are your friend. Quality at a fraction of the cost. But then again I'm cheap too.:biggrin:
 

snyiper

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Aug 24, 2009
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St Inigoes, MD
I have to agree with the above post, you do not need the latest and greatest. What you do need is to learn to make what you have available work. Use a digital caliper it makes things easy. My first jig for pen turning is the minisled for squaring blanks on disc sander that is a lifesaver. Old tools are very reliable and often cheaper you can sell and upgrade later if need be. I for one do slims and think they teach valuable lessons on the lathe I use a adjustable mandrel as well. Are they the best, I dunno but they work for me so find some thing you want to turn and get good at it!!!
If I can do pens on a old 1936 Atlas/Dunlop lathe anything you pick up can be made to work!!!
 
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PenMan1

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Jul 8, 2009
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Eatonton, Georgia
11 things I wish I had known from the beginning

1. That filling the brass tubes full of plumber's putty keeps the glue out of the tubes better than anything else. And by pushing the putty out with a shotgun bore brush leaves the tubes sparkling clean and the putty reusable for the next time.

2. That spraying a little "pam" or wiping a little vasoline on a marble floor tile makes a wonderful gluing station that cleans up quiickly with a paper towel and keeps the "sloppyiest" glued blanks from sticking to a $700 workbench.

3. That a $99 Ryobi Sanding Station (belt sander with mitered disc sander) pays for itself after about ten uses by NOT destroying $10-$20 blanks the way that a pen mill does. This also allows you to do the laser cut blanks.

4. That waiting until I could afford that little "white" lathe with the variable speeds was indeed my best choice. The lathe is one place that you want to buy the best that your budget allows.

5. To buy the very best quality platings available and leave the really cheap stuff to the "e-bay guys". Nothing screams "novice" like a $2 pen kit on a $15 blank.

6. To forget about "turning to bushings" and buy 3 or 4 nice calipers. Accurate digital calipers are about $15 each. With kit pens, I set a caliper for each place that a "kit piece" fits. This GREATLY improves the fit and fiinish of kit pens.

7. To upgrade all nibs, rollerball refills, transmissions, etc to Schmidt. Yes, they really do make that much differnce!

8. To buy JohnnyCNC "eliminator" finish bushings. To this day, I can't accurately apply CA/BLO finish without these little jewels. IMHO, no other finish (except perhaps plexiglass) shows off the pen's workmanship like CA.

9. To not rely on kit bushings but to buy or make quality steel or Corian bushings and turn between centers. Out of round pens is ofter the result of overuse of "stock" bushings and bent mandrels.

10. Quit buying the "name" on the lathe tools and start buying carbide tipped tools instead. They cut materials that HSS can't and they stay sharper much longer. I have tried most lathe tools and I do a much better job with a cheap carbide tipped skew than I do with a "big name brand" HSS chisel.

11. Try harder to make my pens look more DIFFERENT rather that try to make them look the same. My best selling work happens when I have a couple of drinks before entering the shop. Then I sorta forget about all the "rules" of penmaking and concentrate on exposing the beauty that is trapped within each piece of material.
 
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