If I had known this earlier . .

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Warren White

Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2014
Messages
486
Location
Livermore, CA
I have enjoyed this thread!

Much of what I would contribute has already been said. I will add (or state again) the following; not necessarily items which I wish I would have known, but as things I appreciate:

1. The importance of a mentor for me was immense. He shared his time, his passion, his techniques, his praise and his corrections.
2. This forum and the 20,000+ members have been SO VERY IMPORTANT! My thanks to all of you! (Especially to Jeff who welcomed me here.)
3. My wife, who encourages me.
4. It is important to be organized. I share my shop with my car and all of my other woodworking tools. I bought a small Ikea drawer unit where I keep all of my small items, blanks, and lathe accessories). Everything I use (lathe, dust collection and the drawer unit) are on wheels, and it only takes 5 minutes to set up to turn, then clean up when I am done.
5. I appreciate lots of little items I use: a small round brush to clean out my tubes and blanks; a good quality Exacto knife to clean out the ends of the blanks and tubes; plumber's putty to seal off the ends of the tubes; the fixture to drill on my lathe; Rick Herrell's offset sanding jig because I had NO success with the barrel trimmer I bought; the CSUSA Pen Assembly tool so I can assemble my pens on the lathe.
7. Vendors who have excellent products and great customer service. CSUSA comes immediately to mind.
6. My eyesight, which up close is excellent! It allows me to see well enough to give proper attention to those items where precision is necessary. Consequently, I don't turn without protecting my eyes.

While this list isn't complete, it reflects some of the things that allow me to find great pleasure in this hobby. I put numbers 1, 2 and 3 at the top of my list because they continue to be so very important to me. I hope that something I have listed will be of help to someone on the forum.

Thanks to all!
Warren
 

Sabaharr

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
598
Location
Slidell, LA
This is a small thing but I wish I had started using dental wax in the tube ends when I glue them up. That sure has saved me a lot of digging epoxy out of the tubes so they will fit on bushings. A box of the wax is $7 on ebay and will last for thousands of pens.
 

csr67

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2015
Messages
355
Location
Eastvale CA
This is a small thing but I wish I had started using dental wax in the tube ends when I glue them up. That sure has saved me a lot of digging epoxy out of the tubes so they will fit on bushings. A box of the wax is $7 on ebay and will last for thousands of pens.

+1 to that! I was using plumbers putty and it never quite did the job cleanly. It was also a pain to get it all out of the tube. I bought a pack of dental base plate wax from Exotics, and it'll last through hundreds of pens. Two quick pushes of the brass tube into the sheet, and it's sealed up and ready to epoxy. Afterwards, I take a chopstick and just push the wax cleanly out.

Here's a link, 5 sheets of wax for $2.75 and that will last you for a couple hundred pens at least!

Exotic Blanks :: Shop Supplies :: Assembly, Disassembly & Miscellaneous :: Base Plate Wax - Pack of 5 Sheets
 

Quality Pen

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
1,403
Location
Lumberton, Texas
This is a small thing but I wish I had started using dental wax in the tube ends when I glue them up. That sure has saved me a lot of digging epoxy out of the tubes so they will fit on bushings. A box of the wax is $7 on ebay and will last for thousands of pens.

This is a small thing but I wish I had started using dental wax in the tube ends when I glue them up. That sure has saved me a lot of digging epoxy out of the tubes so they will fit on bushings. A box of the wax is $7 on ebay and will last for thousands of pens.

+1 to that! I was using plumbers putty and it never quite did the job cleanly. It was also a pain to get it all out of the tube. I bought a pack of dental base plate wax from Exotics, and it'll last through hundreds of pens. Two quick pushes of the brass tube into the sheet, and it's sealed up and ready to epoxy. Afterwards, I take a chopstick and just push the wax cleanly out.

Here's a link, 5 sheets of wax for $2.75 and that will last you for a couple hundred pens at least!

Exotic Blanks :: Shop Supplies :: Assembly, Disassembly & Miscellaneous :: Base Plate Wax - Pack of 5 Sheets
Thank you to you both!

I will give this a try. I also tried the plumbers putty, but I found it didn't really save me time/energy for the results. Could have done it wrong of course! :biggrin:
 

Ray1955

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
33
Location
Myrtle Beach Sc
bummer

wanted a mini lathe VS to work on making some pens and a few other ideas and received it as a christmas present. I have been trying to find out the bear bones of what I need to start to turn.....I don't want to stare at this thing too long.
LOL

Ray
 

Ray1955

Member
Joined
Dec 25, 2016
Messages
33
Location
Myrtle Beach Sc
bummer part

The bummer part from above was reading someone say if they know then what they know now they never would have started as it was expensive.
 

jttheclockman

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Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
15,868
Location
NJ, USA.
Ray welcome to the site. Do not listen to things like that. If that were the case might as well just stay curled up in a corner somewhere. Everything today is more expensive. You will always and I mean always get as much out of something as you put in. You do not put the effort into the hobby then do not start it. Collect butterflys or something. Any tool and material and pen kits and finishing equipment can be resold. There is always a buyer. Sell a few pens and you will recoup your money back in no time. But again put the effort into it and become a saleperson. It is all about effort.

Now reviving a 2009 thread will not get many new answers but you can look back at what others have said. Start your own thread and others will be glad to help. Not sure if you are asking a question or not but there are articles in the library about the basic things needed to get you started down this wonderful enjoyable and rewarding hobby. Again effort is the key. You get out of it what you put into it. :):)

Here is a good thread to start reading

www.penturners.org/forum/f14/list-items-142449/
 
Last edited:

Skie_M

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Joined
Aug 7, 2015
Messages
2,737
Location
Lawton, Ok
It doesn't have to be all that expensive to get started .... and once you've got the basic skills down, selling what you make can help pay for your new addiction! :)


basic set of HSS lathe chisels at Harbor Freight: 15 dollars (8 tools .... make sure you sharpen them before use!)
basic 3-jaw scrolling chuck #1MT (order online from Harbor Freight): 35 dollars (excellent for holding ROUND stock for cutting blanks to length and drilling)
basic drill chuck #1MT 3/8" or 1/2" from PSI: 18 dollars to 25 dollars (lets you drill right down the center of the blank on the lathe holding the blank in the 3-jaw chuck)

You already have the dead center spur for your headstock and a live center for the tailstock, use them to turn your blanks into smooth round cylinders for further working.

Pen mandrel + mandrel saver with bushings and 7mm brad point drill bit from PSI in #1MT: about 25 dollars for the kit, I think. Comes with 5 7mm bushings for slimlilne and other kit projects.

Set of drill bits in fractional sizes from 1/16" to 1/2" from Harbor Freight: 15 dollars (if you get the coupon right now, it's 10 bucks for the set of 29 bits.)


That's it for getting started ... beyond pen kits and wood/acrylic blanks this is all you really NEED to get started, but it may help a ton to have yourself a sharpening station or means to sharpen your chisels, as they aren't very sharp right out of the box.

If you live near another lathe worker, one of the best things to do is take your chisels to them and ask if they could show you how to properly sharpen them, and what they use and recommend.
 

jttheclockman

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
15,868
Location
NJ, USA.
Sharp,sharp,very sharp tools, no mandrels, only skew, Johnny CNC Bushes, Ca/BLO, TN kits only, buying from IAP members. Read and reread the forums to update knowledge which is never ending.......

Sorry, new to forum and catching up on acronyms....

TN Kits?

Heck there are times I feel I am new to the English language:eek:
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
493
Location
Davis Oklahoma
If I had only known that turning a pen in 15 minutes was a myth. You can, but if you want to be proud of it, it's a myth.

Next up, the myth of sharpening tools, are your tools really sharp?
 

Wayne

IAP Library Manager
Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2006
Messages
554
Location
East Troy, Wisconsin, USA.
Have followed this thread for years. Been away for a while and with a reminder, rediscovered.
This would make an excellent tutorial with some challenge.
Id imagine something like a FAQ pointing to the advisable point of discussion in the tutorial.
Index up front to help.

Anyone up for this challenge?
 

leehljp

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Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
8,351
Location
Tunica, MS,
Wayne, I am behind (as usual) but I have some free time coming this week. (Monday afternoon & most of Tuesday). I will get the "Getting tarted completed and will put together a FAQ for this pointing to this thread.
 

Wayne

IAP Library Manager
Staff member
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Dec 14, 2006
Messages
554
Location
East Troy, Wisconsin, USA.
Wayne, I am behind (as usual) but I have some free time coming this week. (Monday afternoon & most of Tuesday). I will get the "Getting tarted completed and will put together a FAQ for this pointing to this thread.
Hank,
That's wonderful! The members will love this. This will be a monumental tutorial.
 

mmayo

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Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Messages
2,100
Location
Tehachapi, CA
I wish TBC was the way of life when I started. If you are new or thinking about being a newby to pen turning, start with one kit and TBC (turn between centers) bushings at the start. You will thank me and your pens will be better from the start.
 

Lee58

Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
49
Location
Schertz TX.
To be honest I don't think I would have really changed a thing because every machine I bought, tool I used, or kit I tried served as a great learning opportunity! Sure there would always be things we could have done differently but we all had to learn and adapt with the things we were working on or with which served as a great teaching experience and allowed all to progress to were we are today. Hopefully, we can now use that experience to better our techniques, equipment, selection of items we make and share that experience with others.
 

Kr23513

Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
1
Location
New York
Hmmm well since this weekend I had my first "lesson" in turning, the information I have gathered so far is this:

MT#2 all the way, you are way too limited with MT#1 and most people soon realize that they may want to try things that will require them to buy a new lathe.

From seeing the difference between VS and not I dont really think there is a big difference. Let me explain a bit, I dont mind having to move the belt and while the dial is a huge convenience and saves time its a saving to get started. What I never saw anywhere on the forum either was that even on a VS system you have to change the belt for different speed ranges as well so its almost a wash. If I have the money Ill go VS but I may want to use that extra $100 on a grinder which I would argue is more important so you always have sharp tools.

Im going to buy cheap blanks in bulk from eBay until I get the feel for using the tools. Actually turning a pen is much different from watching videos, there is a lot more finesse involved that will come with a lot of practice. Knowing angles for cutting, learning different cuts, learning how to use a skew properly and knowing when to sharpen and how to sharpen. I think I may burn through about 50 or so blanks just figuring it out before I use any good materials for a pen.

Thinking outside the box. Seeing how someone actually works is invaluable, Jason had a lot of tricks that I didnt think of and havent seen anyone else do. Things like turning his own custom MT#2 clamps and jigs to use on specific things, using simple tools to do things that people are buying $50 custom tools to do, little things like where to get cheap glue, etc.

Thats what I have so far, Im sure there will be more specifically after I go buy my lathe...sooner than later I hope.
Very well put!!
 

egnald

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Joined
Jun 9, 2017
Messages
942
Location
Columbus, Nebraska, USA
I wish I would have started with a sanding jig and bushings instead of a series of barrel trimmers and reamers.
I wish I would have started with a JET 1221VS instead of a Harbor Freight and a Variable Speed Conversion Kit.
I wish I would have started with Cigar and Jr. Gent kits instead of loading up on Slimline kits.
I wish I would have started with a slow speed bench buffer instead of buy a lathe mounted buffing system.
I wish I would have started with RhinoPlastic and Alumilite blanks instead of loading up on Inlace Acrylester.

I wish I would have..... many, many, more things.

I wish I would have not gotten in a hurry drilling yesterday instead of blowing out a nice Ironwood Burl blank!

Dave
 

howsitwork

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Joined
Jul 9, 2016
Messages
1,690
Location
Thirsk
1.To buy the biggest quality bandsaw I can fit in with permission ( SWMBO like me occupied👍)

2. Dust collection is NOT optional.

3. SHARPEN the skew often and hone it. Not convinced yet by carbide although use it a lot in metalworking.

4 Jigs to sharpen consistently are worth their weight in gold.

5 Epoxy allows assembly time and needs to be left to cure.

6 Analyse your mistakes and learn from them.

7 ALWAYS have a bottle of ca debonder or acetone within easy reach 😉 ( Dont ask , just don’t ok?)

8 Nitrile gloves when applying finishes are of great value.
 
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