pen kits cost?

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Doctor G

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I guess I don’t understand why pen kits cost so much. Pretty basic question. I realize everyone has to make a profit but I’m sure many turners have asked themselves that question. So as a newbie, Let me ask which pen kit do you think gives you the best bang for the buck?
 
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magpens

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I guess I don’t understand why pen kits cost so much. Pretty basic question. I realize everyone has to make a profit but I’m sure many turners have asked themselves that question.
@Doctor G

Please be more specific and state which pen kits in particular you have been looking at ... please give name of kit and manufacturer.

When you are considering costs, please be aware of the packaging costs, distribution costs, and other similar costs.

The size of the market would also be a factor in amortizing the fixed costs of designing and tooling. . It's a business not at all like automotive manufacturing (as one "gross" example) because nearly everybody needs a vehicle, but everybody could do without a hand-crafted pen, what with free pens being given out by insurance agencies and the like.
For any particular kit, there may be relatively small market, but that market has to support all the costs, some of which we don't think about.
 
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Doctor G

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Lets flip your question because from your sign-on name you are a doctor of some sort so will ask you why is doctors visits so much???? Matter of 10 minutes and $500 is on the cheap side. This is a basic question too. :)
Not a doctor but it would have made my mother happy if I had become one. Believe me she told me that enough times. Hence, Doctor G. I’m actually retired and since every penny counts that’s the reason I ask. So let me ask you, which kit gives you the best bang for the buck.
 

Doctor G

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@Doctor G

Please be more specific and state which pen kits in particular you have been looking at ... please give name of kit and manufacturer.

When you are considering costs, please be aware of the packaging costs, distribution costs, and other similar costs.

The size of the market would also be a factor in amortizing the fixed costs of designing and tooling. . It's a business not at all like automotive manufacturing (as one "gross" example) because nearly everybody needs a vehicle, but everybody could do without a hand-crafted pen, what with free pens being given out by insurance agencies and the like.
For any particular kit, there may a relatively small market, but that market has to support all the costs, some of which we don't think about.
I’ve been looking at all on PSI, and the rest on lists here on this forum. I was generalizing not anyone kit. I guess looking at the slimlines compared to the more expensive ones. Thank you for your answer. If you look again at my post I have edited it and asked the question, what is your opinion of which kit is the best bang for the buck?
 
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That's part of the reason I stopped using kits to make pens. Now the money I save on kits I use for taps, dies, drill bits, collet chucks, stuff to sharpen drill bits, calipers, pen clips, ink refits, tap holder, die holder, not that size one the other one, metal lathe, tool holders, tool blanks, grinder to shape tool blanks, and stuff to turn into pen parts. I haven't crunched the numbers yet to see if I'm saving money or not.
 

DavidD

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I guess I don’t understand why pen kits cost so much. Pretty basic question. I realize everyone has to make a profit but I’m sure many turners have asked themselves that question. So as a newbie, Let me ask which pen kit do you think gives you the best bang for the buck?

Good question, and sorry that reasonable questions are sometimes met with unreasonable responses...

I think the PSI Executive Twist is a really good value, especially in the chrome plating. Mal's suggestion is a good one too.
 
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Another question that begs answering. Are you selling your completed kits? If not, I agree they might seem a bit much but there's all kinds of discount offers out there from various suppliers. I just recently got a 20% off coupon from PSI and the discount applied to items on sale. I placed my order and right out of the gate I saved $56.00 and that didn't include the savings from buying those items that were on sale. The Big Ben Cigar pen set which included several kits and the bushings was on sale, plus the 20% off. They also had the Bolt Action Pen kits on sale for under $30.00 that was three pens and the bushings. If you can't sell a Bolt Action for around $40.00 your doing something wrong. You can get your money back and put a bit more in your pocket if you play the sales right. Check out the Specials on the Penn State site to see all the stuff you can buy at what I consider some great prices.

As for your name...well my men called me "Doc" when I was a Corpsman with the Marines. My license plate on my truck is "NAVYDOC". I was at a reunion some years back and my men still called me Doc. I don't think half of them knew my real name. But I, like you, was never a MD even though I get asked a lot if I was an MD.
 

Kenny Durrant

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I agree with the above responses so I’d suggest looking a a different angle. If your going to give them away then save all you can so you can buy more. If your going to sell them I think most people can feel a difference in a cheap or quality kit. As you can see there’s a ton of different stuff on the market. What I found out was instead of trying to turn most or all of them I found the ones I like and that most people liked. I still turn the basic Slimline, Triton Rollerball and the Bolt Action Tech. I still have a few cigars and turn several of the 30cal Bolt Actions. I have a few odd and end kits but those are my go to ones.
 

studioseven

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I guess the best pen for your buck would be the free Bic pen you can get at your credit union. It will do everything a $100 pen will do. Somehow I don't think you will be happy with that.

Seven
 

jttheclockman

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I guess I don’t understand why pen kits cost so much. Pretty basic question. I realize everyone has to make a profit but I’m sure many turners have asked themselves that question. So as a newbie, Let me ask which pen kit do you think gives you the best bang for the buck?
First off this is an expensive hobby so start there. Between kits, tools and blanks it adds up. Yes you can save on blanks by finding wood and being donated wood and things like that. As far as the kitless thing that someone mentioned is still very expensive when buying taps and tools to go that route. But lets get back to your basic first question, why are kits expensive. The answer is PLATINGS. the better platings will cost more. Then there is differences in kits as to quality. Daycom sells and makes the best kits on the market in my eyes and being tough to get becomes an issue but for quality they are #1 in my eyes. Then you go to gimmicky kits and that is PSI venue and they start cheap because again the platings but get more expensive with the fancy detail and machines to make this type kit so the price is there. Now if you are in this to just give away your pens and not recoup loses then you will always have loses. But with that said even giving away your pens you do not want to be told hey your pen broke or the plating came off, what kind of garbage you give me. So now you step up in quality and now the price goes up. But if you sell your pens than price does not matter. You recoup it when selling. Yes many other factors goes into selling but story for another day.

Now you ask me my best seller and the simple answer is this I have no one best seller. My blanks sell my pens combined with good quality workmanship and kits. I do not sell lower end pens and never will. My name goes on every pen that leaves my shop weather given away or sold. Yes pens in the $50 to $80 sell more than the $150+ pens for obvious reasons. Go into selling and you too want to make a profit so to me the question is easy to answer and also hard to answer because we have no idea what you can do and what you want to do. But good luck and blaze your own path and you will find that comfort zone for sure.

I have sold more Sierra style pens because I make more of them if that means anything to you. One piece blank easier and less time to make but again you price accordingly. I do not look at price of kits because as I said I can get back if sold. I do tend to give away many pens because I just like making them. Watching people's eyes light up is priceless.
 
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TonyL

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Not being sarcastic, because that is what consumers are willing to pay for them given the supply of kits during the same period. My father used to give me that answer and used to think he was being a "wiseguy", but that is the answer unless an outside influence is compelling one to buy at a certain prices (or sell at a certain price).
 

qquake

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I agree with DavidD, I think the Executive gives a good "bang for the buck". There are two finishes for less than $5, and yet they make a classy, high end looking pen. In my opinion, anyway.

 

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howsitwork

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That's part of the reason I stopped using kits to make pens. Now the money I save on kits I use for taps, dies, drill bits, collet chucks, stuff to sharpen drill bits, calipers, pen clips, ink refits, tap holder, die holder, not that size one the other one, metal lathe, tool holders, tool blanks, grinder to shape tool blanks, and stuff to turn into pen parts. I haven't crunched the numbers yet to see if I'm saving money or not.
Thats breaking the unwritten site code!!!!!!!🤫🤫🤫🤫🤫🤫

I am surprised and you and JT !!! 🤦‍♂️

This is a perfectly “ reasonably priced hobby” compared to say spending a fortune up just to push small white balls over the horizon and down rabbit holes ( ie golf ). You have lots of pleasure , get to reward those you love with gifts and invest in quality engineering . What’s not to like !!


Yet another post Immust ensure SWMBO doesn’t see 🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

More seriously and to answer the original posting I make lots of slim lines NOT because they’re the nicest kits but because I like to practice different shapes etc and they’re as much fun as I want to make them. I have made sierras and others and they’re great kits and if I have a specific nice piece of timber or resin or job in mind I will use a different kit.
I enjoy looking on here for ideas and inspiration and then try to live up to those ideals. The “ best value” kit is the one that gives you the result you want . It’s only of recent years the range over here has expanded to match that in the USA so postage and taxes have become less of an issue.
I also look at it more in terms of value invested as my time is worth more than the kit and if I don’t like it, no matter how cheap or expensive the kit, then I’ve wasted my most valuable resource.

Have fun and keep inspiring me folks !
 

jttheclockman

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Well said Ian. Other factors that go into saying you get more bang for your buck with a kit is how many of that kit did you make compared to others. Mal showed a kit that he likes and I would never buy that kit but that is why there are so many out there. Choices for everyone. Questions like this are personal and until you start your own quest to make pens you will never know what fits your needs and customers wants. If you see a kit that hits the like button get a few and try them. start building your inventory. The same goes with blanks. I like to segment and use unusual blanks on my pens and that is what drives my like button more than what kit I like. Give you an example. The computer board blanks, when they first came out you could put them on a bic pen and it would be a seller and you would get more bang for your buck. The blank was driving sales. Then they took a step back and then watch part pens and segmented pens and clay pen blanks and the list goes on so again bang for your buck has no meaning to me. I sell one $500 watch part pen and have to sell 50 or 60 sierra pens to make up the $$$ value so do you call that bang for your buck?? To sum it up again my blanks is what sells my pens and couple it with a good looking kit works well.
 

BRobbins629

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One way to lower costs is to find a kit that you like and just buy a supply of tubes. It is often the blank that sells the pen and you can make and turn many blanks with little investment. If some turn out especially well, put them in a pen. If not you still have the enjoyment of making a pen. Many of my pens are the results of multiple experiments. I probably have bought about 10 tubes for every pen I have assembled.
 

howsitwork

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Bruce

thats a damn good way of doing it. Much more sensible than mine where I have a selection of tubes blanks that I’m not really convinced by and am ” saving for a future event.....”. They’re ready for transmissions etc but , frankly having finished them I now don’t like em!
 

Chasboy1

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That's part of the reason I stopped using kits to make pens. Now the money I save on kits I use for taps, dies, drill bits, collet chucks, stuff to sharpen drill bits, calipers, pen clips, ink refits, tap holder, die holder, not that size one the other one, metal lathe, tool holders, tool blanks, grinder to shape tool blanks, and stuff to turn into pen parts. I haven't crunched the numbers yet to see if I'm saving money or not.
Curious, do you make the internal parts yourself?
 

leehljp

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One thing not mentioned yet but was the topic of discussion a couple of years ago - Location. One guy, and myself, started making pens years ago and the overall components/kits were reasonable. Gradually and then suddenly within about 3 to 5 years, the prices increases quite a bit. For those in moderate to large metro area, the price increases didn't seem unreasonable and for a well finished pen, the cost could more than be made up. But to those who live in rural areas with small town sales, a doubling of prices makes for a large decrease in sales. AS for me, I make and give away as gifts in general but I give away far less now. I still have friends who think a pen should not cost more than $25 - $35. I put way too much time in precision fit, finish and artistic value to charge that little.
 

penicillin

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Penn State sells 30 Funline pen kits for $48.50, on sale. That's $1.62 per kit.

https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKSLFUN99.html

I don't know if a 15% off coupon can be added, but even if not, it is still cheap. I think our woodturning club buys them in bulk for the military/veteran pen program. Contact Penn State to see what quantity discounts might be available.

I like the look and value of these Funline kits for the price. If you are looking for inexpensive pens to serve as "thank you" gifts, they are a good choice. If you are looking to become a pen-making millionaire, your name had better be "Banksy."
 

magpens

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Penn State sells 30 Funline pen kits for $48.50, on sale. That's $1.62 per kit.

https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKSLFUN99.html

Cheap .... yes.

But bear in mind the disclaimer in the product description :-

"Product Description
..... Note: Our lifetime warranty does not apply to this line. ..... "

This disclaimer applies even at the reg. price of $54.50 . The disclaimer is there for a reason.

My comment :- Working with a quality product means more to me than saving a few cents. . I believe I'd say the same even if I were a seller of pens.
 
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Mart

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I think something else to consider is; who you're giving your money to. I like to support local and/or mom&pop shops so, if the cost of the kit makes me gun shy then I also take into account that I'm supporting someone I trust and want to do business with.
 
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I think something else to consider is; who you're giving your money to. I like to support local and/or mom&pop shops so, if the cost of the kit makes me gun shy then I also take into account that I'm supporting someone I trust and want to do business with.


I agree with supporting small business, I was a small business owner at one time. However, some small business' are not set up to deliver good customer service. There are very few PSI kits that I don't buy directly from PSI. I trust them and they've always treated me right, can't say the same for others. I've actually bought PSI kits from one vendor that were not perfect i.e. plating etc., contacted the company I bought them through, multiple times via phone and email, with zero response. I actually contacted PSI, showed them the other vendors receipt and they made good on the PSI product and they sent the parts needed at no expense, that's good customer service. Thats happened to me twice with the non-PSI vendor. The other guy lost my business and I won't go back to him, I'll spend my dollars on a company, large or small, that treats me right. So PSI has my business on kits etc. Some small business' do offer good customer service and I shop with them, others try to play a good game but just can't step up to the plate.
 

Jans husband

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I am sure that hunting, shooting and fishing are a lot more expensive as a hobby than turning pens-but obviously not if you are in the business of making and selling the excellent pens we all see on this site, when I accept that the cost of the materials you use matters.

So, it is all relative dependant on why you are turning pens.

I agree with Magpens- the cigar pen is fantastic value, bearing in mind what can be achieved with it. Here in the UK I have a local Turners Retreat where they I buy them at a little over £6 (UK) each.
Surely you can't grumble at a hobby or business that can turn a price like that into a wonderful creation of your own making and give pleasure to yourself over several inventive hours, or even turn a profit!!

Mike
 

PreacherJon

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I guess I don’t understand why pen kits cost so much. Pretty basic question. I realize everyone has to make a profit but I’m sure many turners have asked themselves that question. So as a newbie, Let me ask which pen kit do you think gives you the best bang for the buck?

The Market is going to determine cost... unless the government gets involved... then it will at least triple.
 

penicillin

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Cheap .... yes.

But bear in mind the disclaimer in the product description :-

"Product Description
..... Note: Our lifetime warranty does not apply to this line. ..... "

This disclaimer applies even at the reg. price of $54.50 . The disclaimer is there for a reason.

My comment :- Working with a quality product means more to me than saving a few cents. . I believe I'd say the same even if I were a seller of pens.
Perhaps I did not make it clear. Funline pen kits are cheap in every sense of the word. They are good for simple gifts. They are good for those who are on a budget and love the hobby and fun of making pens. They are not heirloom artistic creations to sit in a display case somewhere.

What does "lifetime guarantee" mean in the context of a pen, anyway? If they send me a "free" replacement kit, but I must provide a new expensive blank appropriate to the expensive pen kit, the sandpaper, the finish, the turning tool wear 'n' tear, and most of all, my time and effort and risk of failure, a lifetime guarantee doesn't mean much to me. Add to that: the hassle of retrieving the pen and returning it to the recipient.

If the pen fails ten years from now, the manufacturer won't remember that particular kit you bought - they will want to see the failed pen for themselves. Ignoring all the other issues above, a new cheap Funline pen kit is less expensive than the cost of packaging and mailing a failed pen back to the manufacturer under their "lifetime guarantee" anyway.

For me, "lifetime guarantee" means better quality materials, more reliable mechanism, better manufacturing QA, etc. Those features cost money. You don't find those desirable features in a cheap pen kit, nor did I assert that you do.

If you are looking for inexpensive pen turning fun, making simple handmade gifts that are appreciated by the recipients, cheap works fine.
 
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