newbie shop set up advice

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alucas

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Joined
May 1, 2021
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14
Location
kansas
im just now getting my shop organized around turning pens. Im curious what advice you veteran turners would have if you could go back to the beginning and tell yourself how to organize your operation. Help keep me from making mistakes. I.e how to organize paperwork bushings. dust managment etc keep in mind im doing this one the cheap for now
 
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David350

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Joined
Sep 10, 2017
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180
Location
Dallas, TX
Hi Andrew, I'll take a shot at this as your question encompasses a lot of ground. I think the best advice I can give you is that setting up a shop to make pens is difficult to do "on the cheap". Sure, you could buy a cheap lathe, cheap chisels, cheap dust management, etc. but in the long run that is actually going to cost you more money. If you do stay in this hobby for long, you will discover all the limitations, less than desirable attributes, etc. of the equipment you spent your money on and end up being less than happy with it or replacing it.

It would help us to know what shop equipment you have already and if you anticipate making other items outside of pens that you could spread your equipment investment over such as other turned items like bowls, bottle stoppers, or other things people like to make such as cutting boards, etc.

As far as organization of the pen kits, i bought the below Sterilite boxes / bins from Amazon.


They have worked well for me as I can store, depending on the kit, dozens of any particular pen kit along with the required bushings and drill bit(s). As you may have discovered, some pen kits use the same drill bit(s) and or bushings, so this can result in some duplication of bits and or bushing sets. However, for or me this is not an issue as the added cost to me is minimal and I prefer the simplicity of pulling out a bin and having everything I need to make a pen (minus the blank) in a single container. I have a lot of different pen kits (I'm not saying how many lol), so for me they keep me well-organized. They also work great to hold the blanks and I have put 50 plus wood / acrylic blanks in a bin. The bins are stackable so they don't take up a bunch of space either.

This storage system may or may not work for you personally, however. I think many people start off with one type of a system and migrate to another once they discover the best workflow for them based on quantity of pens they make, frequency of their pen making, how well organized they are personally, etc. As you ask questions in this forum, you will quickly find out there is not one "best way" to do any part of the pen making process. The "best way" is actually what works consistently best for you and that often requires some experimentation and outlay of time and money.

A final comment would be when seeking advice, please give us more information on where you are starting from equipment wise as well as skill set, budget, etc. One person may think cheap is $10,000, and another might be more like $1,000. Let us also know what you wish to achieve, such as "I want to make about 50 pens a year for gifts for family and friends", etc. The more information you can give us on your situation, the better the advice will be. Good luck on your journey....
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
541
Alright, I'll bite.

I posted a thread showing how I track the pens that I make from start to finish. I use an ordinary sandwich bag to keep the pen blank and pen kit parts together, along with a paper slip for tracking the progress of the pen. The thread includes the documents that I use - a pen making record slip that goes with each pen, a gift label, and the spreadsheet that I use to track every pen I made. Feel free to copy my documents, modify them, and make them your own. When the pen is complete, I save the sandwich bags and keep them together in a larger bag, ready for reuse. Bags get used over and over.

https://www.penturners.org/threads/documents-for-tracking-pen-making-for-gifts-etc.159678/
 

alucas

Member
Joined
May 1, 2021
Messages
14
Location
kansas
Hi Andrew, I'll take a shot at this as your question encompasses a lot of ground. I think the best advice I can give you is that setting up a shop to make pens is difficult to do "on the cheap". Sure, you could buy a cheap lathe, cheap chisels, cheap dust management, etc. but in the long run that is actually going to cost you more money. If you do stay in this hobby for long, you will discover all the limitations, less than desirable attributes, etc. of the equipment you spent your money on and end up being less than happy with it or replacing it.

It would help us to know what shop equipment you have already and if you anticipate making other items outside of pens that you could spread your equipment investment over such as other turned items like bowls, bottle stoppers, or other things people like to make such as cutting boards, etc.

As far as organization of the pen kits, i bought the below Sterilite boxes / bins from Amazon.


They have worked well for me as I can store, depending on the kit, dozens of any particular pen kit along with the required bushings and drill bit(s). As you may have discovered, some pen kits use the same drill bit(s) and or bushings, so this can result in some duplication of bits and or bushing sets. However, for or me this is not an issue as the added cost to me is minimal and I prefer the simplicity of pulling out a bin and having everything I need to make a pen (minus the blank) in a single container. I have a lot of different pen kits (I'm not saying how many lol), so for me they keep me well-organized. They also work great to hold the blanks and I have put 50 plus wood / acrylic blanks in a bin. The bins are stackable so they don't take up a bunch of space either.

This storage system may or may not work for you personally, however. I think many people start off with one type of a system and migrate to another once they discover the best workflow for them based on quantity of pens they make, frequency of their pen making, how well organized they are personally, etc. As you ask questions in this forum, you will quickly find out there is not one "best way" to do any part of the pen making process. The "best way" is actually what works consistently best for you and that often requires some experimentation and outlay of time and money.

A final comment would be when seeking advice, please give us more information on where you are starting from equipment wise as well as skill set, budget, etc. One person may think cheap is $10,000, and another might be more like $1,000. Let us also know what you wish to achieve, such as "I want to make about 50 pens a year for gifts for family and friends", etc. The more information you can give us on your situation, the better the advice will be. Good luck on your journey....
david thanks for your reply. right now im focused on gifts and growing my repertoire pen wise. im farely well set up wood tool wise inhabe a 10 inch table saw betch top band saw and drill press. a belt sander 12 inch planer joiner shaper several router tables and a ridiculous number of hand tools. my lathe was inherented and is a belt driven and belt adjusted jet lathe and a set of chisels but indont know the brand. i do hace the pen genie carbide chisel from psi in the mail.

on the cheap would be defined in my world as what money i recieve from holidays make frkm pen sales (i have one thus far) and can sweet talk out of my wife.
 

Old Hilly

Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2021
Messages
34
Location
Near Wauchope, NSW, Australia
Well, not that I'm an expert, far from it, but I learned over the years that it's better to start with something good rather than something cheap. The old "buy once, cry once" seems to work for me now, having cried over heaps of crap in the past. You need to be organised, things need to be in clearly marked boxes with lids to keep both the dust out and the contents from escaping or the little fairies coming round at night and moving things. Or it could just be my memory that isn't working but I have to blame someone else. Find a storage system that fits in your workspace and that you can get replacement or additional containers for because what you think is plenty right now is going to be nowhere near enough in 2 years time. There is one of those "Murphy's Laws" that states quite clearly that possessions will accumulate to fill 110% of the available space. Which could be wrong, I reckon it's 120% or more! After that, good luck and happy turning.
 

howsitwork

Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2016
Messages
1,410
Location
Thirsk
Buy a decent full set of drills metric, imperial and number drills and KEEP them intact by buying sharp , higher quality replacements for the ones you use the most.

Storage containers for each kit type are good as when they get mixed up sorting out wha5 goes with what is “ challenging” ( just don’t ask OK?).

A decent set of vernier calipers, I like the dial type, is a must too.

Re dust management I use , and recommend, a Trend Airhelmet to keep my lungs intact. This comes in for most shop tasks not just pens. Extraction at source is better but you don’t list an extractor with your kit thus far. As for justification , well your wife wants you healthy doesn’t she?? Probably best to ask that when SWMBO a is in a good mood🤞
 
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