If I had known this earlier . .

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Parson

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Jun 10, 2009
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Hindsight is always 20/20, but my biggest lesson learned is not to buy 22k kits because the gold wears off in a week or two of daily use. My first pens were made with cheap kits (read not titanium) and I was ashamed to see the person using the pen weeks later.
 
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workinforwood

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Mar 1, 2007
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Eaton Rapids, Michigan, USA.
I wish I had known about turning between centers so I didn't waste so much money on mandrels and bushings.
I wish I had known the turncrafter lathe was junk from the start.

I wish I had known these two things, because all the money I spent there was wasted. The quality of product produced with them was junk and now it's all gone and had to be replaced with better stuff.
 

arjudy

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Feb 27, 2005
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1,209
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Springfield, Ohio, USA.
I wished that I would not have tried so many different kits in the beginning and just stayed with a few styles.
I wished that I would have bought the best tools that I could afford and learned to sharpen then properly from the start.
 

bitshird

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Aug 27, 2007
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10,236
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Adamsville, TN, USA.
I wish I had bought a wood lathe sooner,
I wish I had bought a better table saw,
I wish I had kept my fingers out of the cheap one I did buy,
I wish I hadn't started turning slimlines with 24Kt plating,
I wish I'd discovered wood turning long ago.
I am so glad I found the IAP and remember how kind Randy was the first night I logged on and asked about bushing sizes and what size I needed to make my mandrels.
 

louie56

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Mar 8, 2010
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Northern Illinois
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
Sorry.. Strongly disagree also...
I purchase a Oasis Dust collector from toolmart.com 1hp .motor on casters so it goes anywhere i choose $129.00 + ship 25.00 from CA to ILLINOIS
Louie56
 

markv

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Jan 28, 2011
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Arkansas
as a newbie I have to say that this thread needs to be stickied!

I know that this is an old one but it is GREAT info for a beginner




and aren't you proud of me for using the search feature here! :biggrin:
 

rkimery

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Nov 5, 2008
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857
Location
Columbus Indiana
I am on a fact finding mission. Can you help?

What do you wish you had known earlier in pen turning?

or in different words:

Knowing what you know now - IF you could go back and start over in pen turning - what would you skip, change or do differently?

answers for instance:
- I wish I had known about the difference in an MT 1 and an MT 2 lathe.
- I wish I had known the advantages of VS
- I wish I had known this was going to cost so much!
- I wish I had started with a DC system or learned to use a mask from the beginning.

What can you contribute to this post that could possible help someone else in the future?

Thanks!
Wish I had a "Turning" lesson first, before I dove in. Maybe it wouldn't have taken so long, nor as many broken tools to turn a pen(?). :biggrin:
 

omb76

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Jan 1, 2009
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Cartersville, GA
How to sharpen my turning tools!! Wait a minute I still don't know the proper way! :eek: :biggrin: I saving my pennies for a Wolverine system.
 

LeeR

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Nov 13, 2010
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Location
Fort Collins, Colorado
For me, I regret buying a "belt changer". Some may say that changing them is no problem, and that is true, to an extent. But when you want to add a finish, slow the lathe at the start, and then speed it up, you just don't do it. You make compromises (at least I do). I bought the Rikon 70-100, primarily because it was on sale for $75 off, and while I think it is a decent entry lathe, I wish I would have spent the money for a more upscale model. I could add the VS kit, but you still have pulleys, just half the number. Not really appealing to me, since belt changes are still required, just a little less often. I'll invest in a Nova or Oneway in the future, more than likely.

I can empathize with pen turners who were not into woodworking previously. LOTs more than a lathe and the pen making tools to buy! I've had a shop for 35 years, so up until I got my lathe, I've acquired almsot anything you'd need -- table saw, radial arm saw, compound miter saw, bandsaw, jointer, planer, drill press, scroll saw, router table and numerous routers, plus hundreds of accessories like bits, clamps, cordless tools, commercial and homemade jigs, etc. (And a very understanding wife ...) :rolleyes:
 
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PenPal

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Canberra, A.C.T., Australia.
Morning here Hank,

From the get go I surmised that you were intending to establish the definitive manual for all new Pen Makers. So many questions are asked and answered on this forum that would be covered in archives. I refer to the King James publication that has been for so long a standard
text for so many originally written, interpreted from languages, published in various sizes, it took a long time to do this by a skilled group of (Experts) in the field.(controversy still exists)

There is the story of the child coming home from school saying to the mother where do I come from who received the whole 12 yards about the birds and the bees when asked by the Mum at the conclusion why do you ask when the child explained Jimmy said he was from Texas so where am I from.

IMHO a statement from the Forum with a few pertinent guidelines is more valuable than a forty page document and could feature in the guide to new members as they register. As it is now a lot of forum activity is about anything but Pen Making I sense a shift here and there a trend as well to this forum being a social club.

Suggestion turn into rules or so called binding rules of conduct look into the total changes in Construction with safety in OH&S.

In your society with others what is the success rate doctrinally mixing with folks, how long to introduce where do you start and finish. Personally at 76 yrs I learn a real lot every day
could never cover that in a document of common sense. Basically Pen Turners are curious
people who may or may not pursue their hobby with the proposed intensity. I believe in line apon line with friendly help from face to face interaction, finally a picture is worth a thousand words.

Since my friend you have been largely missing from the hectic contributions over the years this indicates to me we are all no different. Being able to study, learn, qualify, then go out and get practical experience, devote time needed to progress. From my calculations a retirement is in the offing for you I have been retired now for the best part of 15 yrs now having learned to move fast to keep up with the new demands that come with the title.
Fare well ie have success in your endeavor and when you do have it accessible to everyone as a key when we log in available to everyone since you are polling us for answers.

Kind regards Peter.
 

Tom Foster

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Feb 1, 2011
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I learned that if you are not willing to spend a little money on quality tools and kits, you will spend a lot of time producing inferior results. Your customers or gift recipients are sensitive to the quality of what you produce.
 

rkimery

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Nov 5, 2008
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Columbus Indiana
I learned that if you are not willing to spend a little money on quality tools and kits, you will spend a lot of time producing inferior results. Your customers or gift recipients are sensitive to the quality of what you produce.
Can I get a BIG amen here? You are so right Tom! :biggrin:
 

Russknan

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Mar 13, 2012
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Nanuet, NY
One of my biggest regrets is that, not knowing any better, I bought several blank "assortments" when I was starting. Although I have an AWFUL lot yet to learn, I was surprised how quickly I got better at making pens and now don't ever anticipate wasting my time on those bland pieces of kindling. They are just taking up valuable space in the workshop. Also, some of them are of a diameter smaller than 3/4". I don't think that leaves enough flexibility, and condemns you to making only slimlines. There are people on IAP who supply wonderful blanks for a fair price that are worthy of the effort you put into turning them into pens. I also really like someone else's suggestion above (sorry, I'm too lazy to look back up a few pages to give proper credit) that you start out with single-blank kits like Sierra or Gatsby and expand from there. Finally, the info and help from others on IAP is responsible for the greatest part of any improvement I've made. Russ
 

Rudderman

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Oct 22, 2012
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Cambridge Md
Turning between centers

Since I'm a new guy I can ask stupid questions. Why is a 60 degree live center better and what does "turning between centers" mean, no mandrel?
 

gketell

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Dec 15, 2006
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Pleasanton, CA, USA.
Since I'm a new guy I can ask stupid questions. Why is a 60 degree live center better and what does "turning between centers" mean, no mandrel?
the 60-degree center matches the angle of the dimple on the end of the mandrel so there is no wobbling of the mandrel. The standard center has a sharper point so the mandrel can wobble around giving you uneven turning and therefore out of round pens.

Yes, between centers means using high quality bushings and skipping the mandrel. The mandrel can be bent so even though the ends are held steady the center wobbles: again, out of round pens. With high-quality (tight) bushings, there is nothing to wobble and your pens come out straighter. You just have to "visualize" what the two haves will look like together since you will be turning each half separately.
 

Jim Burr

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Wet Amboyna. I made a Euro set for a crazy rich friend of mine. Looked great!!! He put it in his safe for 5-6 years. I saw it last year. The wood shrunk at least 3/32" and was so embarrassing!! I grabbed it, said I'd be back tomorrow. Made him a "dry" pen. Much better result and his wife asked for a similar one. Good wood is a great start!
 

Kretzky

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Jul 6, 2012
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BC Canada
1. Wish I'd got a true VS lathe rather than a belt change one.
2. Wish I'd known it was going to cost so much
3. wish I'd known how many were already doing this "hobby"
4. wish I had more room for things like a DC etc
David
 

redneckmedic

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Dec 15, 2012
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Greenfield, IN USA
Wish I would have read this thread 3 wks ago when I found this forum instead of spending $300 on parts and replacement parts and crap kits and such.

Learn to sharpen a tool as proficient as you can dull one.

Take your time with every step...no matter how many times you have one it, or how well you can do it.

Keep a tighty work space.

Stay organized with you parts/tools/kits/blanks.

Remember to make stuff for yourself. As much as I always love to see acceptance on others face when they receive my gifts of hand craft... keep the nice ones for yourself every once in a while, you earned it after all, its made by you!

Do be intimidated to try something hard, you might surprise yourself!

Brag on you work, folks will love it!
 
Joined
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Grosse Pointe Woods, mi, USA
I wish I had known this was going to lead to a lifelong love of pens...would have started turning many years earlier.
wish I had known what a waste of money a GRIZZLY lathe could be.
wish I were retired and could do this full time.
 

Loon-A-See

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May 25, 2013
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Location
Camano Island, WA
Hi Glenn,

Your writing instruments are gorgeous!

I'm a pen turning neophyte, chomping at the bit to get started.

I've been investigating all the tools, etc. for about 18 months. I'm disabled by Multiple Sclerosis, so I have the advantage that the State of WA, Dept. of Voc. Rehab. will help me get started. God Bless America and The American Taxpayer!

Anyway, I've been looking at mini, then midi lathes from almost everyone. I finally settled on Grizzly over Jet or Delta b/c all my buddies swear by Grizzly. So, I've selected the 12" x 20" Benchtop Lathe, H0658, figuring that I would gradually "grow" into it.

Why don't you like Grizzly? What would you recommend? From my research, it seems that one's lathe is the most important power tool.

It is overwhelming with so many choices, and opinions. Would appreciate your input.

Thanks!
Maria
 

PenPal

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Nov 29, 2006
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Canberra, A.C.T., Australia.
Birds of a feather flock together.

Love many trust few but always paddle your own canoe.

Every cent used to follow my passion in Penturning has given me such a great reward ie experience, pleasure.

Spend wisely on equipment. Enjoy the journey. Be fair to others pay fairly for quality anything,

Every day someone says so and so has a special price on this and that.

Everyone is entitled to their living expect wages for effort.

Deal honestly with everyone.

Amazing how wonderful life is living within your means.

Chalking up 79 yrs in two weeks been there done that however same as my family ie wife, kids, their kids, their kids around 65 total penturning is but one of my passions and learning oportunities I welcome every day.

Enjoy the journey.

Kind regards Peter.
 

tim self

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Oct 2, 2008
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Atoka, Oklahoma
Yep, 60 degree live centers, turning btw centers and drilling on the lathe. Since I started turning like this everything has turned out much better. Also putting my barrel trimmer on the lathe makes them perfect as well.
 

Chasper

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Mar 22, 2007
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Indiana
I was going to pass on this thread, but over the weekend I was at a show that was a little slower that I had hoped with some spare time I couldn't stop thinking about what I wish I had done differently. I didn't make a list, I just have one item to mention:

I wish I had never made a wood pen. I wish I had started with resin and totally stayed with resin. I've made a thousand or so wood pens and I think all of them will eventually become "defective." I've made 10 times that many resin and alternative material pens any nearly all of them will last indefinitely. Not that I can't put on a first class CA finish, they look great when they come off the buffer, but eventually that wears off. There was one wood pen in my display yesterday when I decided that I am going to go totally un-wood. I gave it away to a kid who loved everything he saw but had no money to spend. From this point forward I'm totally wood-free unless it is so heavily stabilized that no finish is needed.
 
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yaroslaw

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Sep 1, 2012
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Kyiv, Ukraine
1) I wish I would found Exoticblanks.com and beartoothwoods.com BEFORE PSI. It would make life at beginning so much simpler!:)

2) I wish I would never buy a mandrel and endmill and started straight from TBC and squaring on the lathe (my own way with a skew). That would save a lot of frustration and some initial costs

3) I wish I would NOT buy PSI chuck(Barracuda 2)/live center - they are awfully eccentric! Robert Sorby or Oneway are more expensive, but I've could saved for them!


4) I wish I knew where to get good woodturning chisels.

5) I wish I would start penturning earlier!!!
And start saving money for that thing earlier, few less trips, few less dinners - and voila! New lathe!:) It was tough at times, as I started penturning after I quit my job.
 

Martin G

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Jul 19, 2011
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Austin, Texas
I wish I had photographed every single thing that ever came out of the shop. This is a lesson I still haven't learned. :) I photograph more things that I used to but some still slip by me.
 

Cmiles1985

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Nov 12, 2013
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Aransas Pass, TX
I wish I had read all of the posts to this thread, researched TBC, bought an MT2 lathe and done everything (drill, turn, square and finish) on said lathe, and I wish I'd have stuck with one pen kit style while learning. As of now, I've been turning for about 4 months and have just realized that my thoughts of "I like that pen" have cost me so much more in bushings and drill bits when I still haven't perfected turning and finishing.
 

wildbill23c

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Dec 30, 2013
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Emmett, Idaho
I've got Cmiles1985's issue. I started with the slimline pens as a beginner, then went to woodcraft, then other pen websites and of course that pen looks awesome, that one would be nice for a gift, this one would be nice with a matching pencil for my mom who has arthritis and has a hard time using the slim style pens and pencils. Then grandpa liked that pen, I like the bolt action. Then I ended up with 4 boxes worth of pen kits, bushings, drill bits, etc. Almost every Sunday I go to Woodcraft for more stuff because its something I enjoy doing and its relaxing for me. Except it gets expensive, and not having much luck selling any and I really can't keep making pens just to have around the house LOL.
 

Mike Powell

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Jul 26, 2013
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League City, Tx 77573
I dont really think there is too much I would change.

I bought a MT#1 Lather, and I havent really ran into any limitations yet, YET being the key word.

I have a
HF 129.00 Lathe
HF 19.00 Tools

I bought a Band Saw, and bartered for a disk/belt sander and a Drill Press. the drill press was VERY small and I thought it would be ok, but I cant drill anything bigger than a 2 barrel bank.

So probably the only thing thing I would change is I wouldnt settle on just enough. I would get what I know would work.
 

SDB777

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Feb 6, 2010
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Cabot, Arkansas USA
I should have just bought the Laguna Revo 24-36....

You can always turn small stuff on a big lathe, but it's hard to turn a 300lb chunk of anything on a Jet 1220VS.




Scott (I'm craving a ICEE) B
 

wildbill23c

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I dont really think there is too much I would change.

I bought a MT#1 Lather, and I havent really ran into any limitations yet, YET being the key word.

I have a
HF 129.00 Lathe
HF 19.00 Tools

I bought a Band Saw, and bartered for a disk/belt sander and a Drill Press. the drill press was VERY small and I thought it would be ok, but I cant drill anything bigger than a 2 barrel bank.

So probably the only thing thing I would change is I wouldnt settle on just enough. I would get what I know would work.
You must have the same lathe I do from HF. I've had mine since the end of November and I really like it so far. Turned several dozen pens with it. I have the HF lathe tool set as well, but I did move up and purchase a carbide min-rougher as the HSS tools just don't hold an edge very long. The mini-rougher was about $60 and well worth it for me it seems like, couple dozen pens so far and haven't turned to a new cutting edge on the 4 sided cutter head yet.

I've looked at more expensive lathes at Woodcraft, and just laugh at the prices on them. For those prices I could burn up my $130 HF lathe a half dozen times. I got the 2 year extended replacement plan so I'm good for a couple years, and if it burns up after that I'll go buy another one. I figured I'd have to do a lot of setup with it when I got it, but it was perfectly aligned right out of the box surprised me really.
 

WriteON

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Aug 21, 2013
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Lake Worth,Fl. / BlueBell, Pa.
I am on a fact finding mission. Can you help?

What do you wish you had known earlier in pen turning?

or in different words:

answers for instance:

- I wish I had started with a DC system or learned to use a mask from the beginning.
Great thread. I was fortunate to learn from others before I started to wear & use protective equipment. Safety first. Safety is everything.
 
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oneleggimp

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Feb 23, 2014
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Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan 48230 United States o
I bought the PSI carbide-tipped pen turning gouge to start with and then the Carbide-tipped pen turning skew and finally the parting tool that goes with the set (HSS). In retrospect, I wouldn't do it again. They were not all that sharp. I did it to try and save having to buy a grinder to sharpen chisels. I should have just bought the grinder. I don't use the carbide-tipped chisels at all anymore. I use HSS tools which I keep sharp and they cut so much better than the carbide-tipped. Maybe if I do an acrylic blank, the carbide will still be usable but overall I wasted money on them. Also I bought the Pen Blank Trimming Set from PSI. Total waste of $20.00 ($19.95 actually). I wouldn't buy that again. In order to save money I bought the smaller (1" capacity) Dedicated Pen Blank Drilling Chuck. In retrospect, I should have bought the larger one (2 1/2") since I've decided to try turninng shaving brushes, game calls and bottle stoppers - all of which involve blanks larger than 1". SO Penny Wise and pound foolish.
 

BradG

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Jul 10, 2011
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Blackpool -UK
I wish I only bought accessories for my lathe as and when I needed them
I wish I didn't bother with brush plating and went straight onto Tank plating
I wish I measured pen components rather than relying on the width of bushings
I wish I didn't skimp on the cost of my original lathe. I paid for it later in replacement parts
I wish I burned my receipts before SWMBO found them.
 

vakmere

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Mar 25, 2014
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Philly
- I wish I had started with a great DC system and the Mandrel Saver. Experience in turning came with practice practice practice and trial and error.
 
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csr67

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Jan 27, 2015
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Eastvale CA
I wish I'd known not to waste $$$ on a drill mounted barrell trimmer, the Rick Harrell sanding jig works soooooooo much better!
 
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