Question - gifts for beginner pen turner

Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

lkh77

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2021
Messages
3
Location
Ottawa
Good morning everyone! I am buying gifts for a beginner pen turner. He already has a mini lathe and associated attachments, and he requested this pen turning mandrel and barrel trimmer kit: https://www.amazon.ca/Turning-Mandr...luxe+Barrel+Trimmer+Kit&qid=1640102975&sr=8-1.

However, the pen kit he requested was on backorder, so I took a chance and ordered this one instead:https://www.amazon.ca/Penn-State-In...t+bundle+1+woodturning+project,aps,198&sr=8-1.

Since I don't know much about pen turning, I'm hoping someone can tell me if there is a key thing missing that would prevent him from using these items together (i.e. a bit or bushing I would still need to buy).

As an aside, the pen kit came with 10 identical pen blanks, which seems odd given the image of the item shows eight very different pens. Is this common?

Many thanks!
LKH
 
Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

Bope

Member
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
98
Location
Western NY
That looks like a nice starter. The description does say 10 cocobolo blanks. It also comes with bushings. It sounds like has all he needs to do the turning. The question is if he has everything he needs for finishing; sandpaper, CA or preferred finish, micromesh or preferred polishing method.
 

KMCloonan

Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2017
Messages
681
Location
Round Lake, Illinois
Good morning everyone! I am buying gifts for a beginner pen turner. He already has a mini lathe and associated attachments, and he requested this pen turning mandrel and barrel trimmer kit: https://www.amazon.ca/Turning-Mandrel-Deluxe-Barrel-Trimmer/dp/B004H6GIPY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=#2MT+Pen+Turning+Mandrel+and+Deluxe+Barrel+Trimmer+Kit&qid=1640102975&sr=8-1.

However, the pen kit he requested was on backorder, so I took a chance and ordered this one instead:https://www.amazon.ca/Penn-State-Industries-PKSP105A-Bundle/dp/B07DGJ46WK/ref=sr_1_1?crid=357IM7MJ1NRZU&keywords=Penn+State+Industries+PKSP105A+7mm+Pen+Kit+Bundle+#1+Woodturning+Project&qid=1640103007&sprefix=penn+state+industries+pksp105a+7mm+pen+kit+bundle+1+woodturning+project,aps,198&sr=8-1.

Since I don't know much about pen turning, I'm hoping someone can tell me if there is a key thing missing that would prevent him from using these items together (i.e. a bit or bushing I would still need to buy).

As an aside, the pen kit came with 10 identical pen blanks, which seems odd given the image of the item shows eight very different pens. Is this common?

Many thanks!
LKH
Hi - I have that same mandrel from PSI - It's called a Mandrel Saver. It works well. The barrel trimmer set looks good as well. As for the kits, the link you provided shows a variety pack from PSI - it's hard to go wrong with variety. The nice thing is the pack comes with bushings for most of the pens. It mentions that the kit does not include 7mm bushings (the most common, plain bushings) but if memory serves me, the Mandrel Saver includes a half dozen or so 7mm bushings. As for the number of pen blanks, it's pretty common for them to be sold in packs of 10. There's really no relation to the number of kits being sold in the variety pack. Think of hot dogs, which come in packs of 10, but the buns come in packs of 8. Just the way it is. Hope this helps.
 

egnald

Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2017
Messages
1,515
Location
Columbus, Nebraska, USA
Greetings from Nebraska.

Regarding your questions and thee two links provided:

The first link (Mandrel Kit) includes the 7mm "Slimline" bushings that are needed (but not included) in the second link (Kit Bundle) so you should be good there.

The first link (Mandrel Kit) shows a drill bit in the picture which I would assume is a 7mm drill even though I could not find it listed in the text of what is included. A 7mm drill bit is needed to complete the pens in the second link (Kit Bundle), so there is a little unknown there, but my guess would be that the bit in the picture is included but is just not specifically listed -- if not, a 7mm drill bit is quite common and should be available at any good hardware/tool store.

And finally, as to your question regarding the blanks. It is common for companies like PSI (Penn State Industries) to have stock photos of each of their kits as finished pens in each plating finish. These are the pictures from their catalog and are used to show what the finished pen would look like, metal finish, type of clip, type of nib, etc. and a general idea of what the blank could look like, mostly related to shape. So, yes, it is common for the pens shown in the advertisement to be made from different blanks. According to the PSI web catalog this comes with a 10-pack of Cocobolo pen blanks. In my opinion, Cocobolo is a wonderful and beautiful wood to work with. It is among my very favorite species for pens.

There are other common things that will be needed, but he most likely has them already. They include sandpaper of various grits, finishing materials (personal preference items, like CA finishes or some kind of friction polish, and some kind of polishing materials depending on the type of finish, like MicroMesh for CA finishes, etc.

This looks like a very nice combination of kits and should include everything needed.

Regards,
Dave
 

SteveJ

Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2012
Messages
3,020
Location
Grand Junction, Colorado
Assuming his mini lathe has a #2 MT (which he presumably checked before requesting this) it is a decent starter set.

The picture is a stock picture displaying the type of finished pens. The cocobolo blanks will produce nice looking pens.
 

magpens

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
15,749
Location
Canada
@lkh77

Drill bits would be needed . . if I read the advertisement for the starter package correctly.

The package seems to include the necessary bushings, the pen blanks ( 10 Cocobolo wood blanks ) but does not include drill bits.

As already mentioned, the required items & materials for doing the sanding, polishing, and finishing steps in the process are also
NOT included in the starter package, and that is the usual case. . Those items will need to be bought separately by the maker of the pens.
 

lkh77

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2021
Messages
3
Location
Ottawa
Wow, thank you so much everyone for responding so quickly and with such helpful information! Getting a 7mm drill bit won't be a problem, in fact I'm fairly certain we already have one or two. I will be sure to tell him about this excellent forum as well. I'm looking forward to a nice new pen!
 

Woodchipper

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
3,809
Location
Cleveland, TN
Gift card to Woodcraft of another place for a lesson. I took one and gave my grandson one for Christmas several years ago. Well worth the time.
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
892
Good morning everyone! I am buying gifts for a beginner pen turner. He already has a mini lathe and associated attachments, and he requested this pen turning mandrel and barrel trimmer kit: https://www.amazon.ca/Turning-Mandrel-Deluxe-Barrel-Trimmer/dp/B004H6GIPY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=#2MT+Pen+Turning+Mandrel+and+Deluxe+Barrel+Trimmer+Kit&qid=1640102975&sr=8-1.

However, the pen kit he requested was on backorder, so I took a chance and ordered this one instead:https://www.amazon.ca/Penn-State-Industries-PKSP105A-Bundle/dp/B07DGJ46WK/ref=sr_1_1?crid=357IM7MJ1NRZU&keywords=Penn+State+Industries+PKSP105A+7mm+Pen+Kit+Bundle+#1+Woodturning+Project&qid=1640103007&sprefix=penn+state+industries+pksp105a+7mm+pen+kit+bundle+1+woodturning+project,aps,198&sr=8-1.

Since I don't know much about pen turning, I'm hoping someone can tell me if there is a key thing missing that would prevent him from using these items together (i.e. a bit or bushing I would still need to buy).

As an aside, the pen kit came with 10 identical pen blanks, which seems odd given the image of the item shows eight very different pens. Is this common?

Many thanks!
LKH
I do not fully understand other people's responses here. We don't know what the beginner pen turner already has, so it is hard to know what they need. Here is a pretty good write-up of the minimum tools that a beginning pen turner needs to get started:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/thr...t-needed-for-pen-turning.215309/#post-2076831

RESPONDING DIRECTLY TO YOUR ORIGINAL POST. The first link that your beginner pen turner requested includes:
  • Pen mandrel with mandrel saver - This holds the pen blanks on the lathe so you can shape the pen blanks into a pen shape. The mandrel saver is a better way to hold the pen blanks in place as you turn them. (Some mandrels use a small brass nut with slimline bushings as spacers to hold the blank(s) in place, an inferior method.)
  • Bushings for slimline pens - you use them to match the end diameters of the pen blanks so they match a slimline type pen kit when it is time to assemble the pen.
  • Barrel trimmer set - You use this to "square up" the end of the pen blank and match the internal pen tube size. If the blank is not square, then there may be a gap between the metal pen kit parts and your finished pen blank after assembly. The four shafts and the brass tube are used to fit the five most common pen kit sizes.
  • 7mm Drill bit. Pictured but not mentioned in the listing, but someone says it is included, in the Q and A.
What your beginner pen turner requested above is some of the tooling that a beginner needs to get started turning pens. Here is what is missing:
  • A holder or some method to drill a hole through the pen blank(s). Many people use a drill press and a holder that keeps the pen blank perfectly vertical. (I drill on my lathe, but drilling on the lathe requires additional accessories. which can add up in price.)
  • Glue for gluing the brass tubes inside the pen blanks. CA glue (superglue) can work for beginners who want to get started turning without waiting. Most pen turners prefer epoxy.
  • A method to press the pen kit parts into the pen blanks for assembly. There are a variety of ways to do it. I use my lathe with a couple of plastic parts on the head and tail ends of the lathe. Cranking the tailstock on the lathe presses the parts together. You can easily make a home-brew version of it.
  • Pen kits and pen blanks, of course.
  • Drill bits that match the pen kit. Slimlines use a 7 mm drill. Other kits may require larger drill bits.
  • Bushings to match the pen kits. Slimline bushing are good for slimline pens, but they are useful as spacers on pen mandrels, too. Other pen kits require different bushings that match the pen kit. Some pen kit "families" share the same bushing sizes.
  • Assorted sandpaper.
  • Finish - Friction polishes are easy and popular, but less durable. CA glue is another popular finish - glossy, hard, and durable, but it takes a little practice to get right.
  • Optional for CA finishes: A way to polish the finish when you're done. I would recommend a set of Micro-mesh pads. I buy the larger 3x4 inch ones and cut them into three sets.

-> What you ordered (the second link) assumes that the recipient already has the mandrel, barrel trimmer, and all the other lathe accessories I described above, including drilling and assembly tools.
-> None of them are included in that second link that you ordered. Basically, the second link is nothing more than a set of pen kits, matching bushings, and pen blanks. It is something that someone would buy if they already have all the tooling they need to turn pens, but now they want additional kits, bushings, and pen blanks to make additional pens. (NOTE: If you already have the bushings for a given pen kit, you don't need to buy them again.)

That is the source of my confusion - your beginner pen turner requested some basic tooling that someone needs to turn pens. Without the tooling they requested and the other tool parts I mentioned above, your beginning pen turner will not be able to make pens with what you ordered; at least not yet.
 
Last edited:

lkh77

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2021
Messages
3
Location
Ottawa
I do not fully understand other people's responses here. We don't know what the beginner pen turner already has, so it is hard to know what they need. Here is a pretty good write-up of the minimum tools that a beginning pen turner needs to get started:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/thr...t-needed-for-pen-turning.215309/#post-2076831

RESPONDING DIRECTLY TO YOUR ORIGINAL POST. The first link that your beginner pen turner requested includes:
  • Pen mandrel with mandrel saver - This holds the pen blanks on the lathe so you can shape the pen blanks into a pen shape. The mandrel saver is a better way to hold the pen blanks in place as you turn them. (Some mandrels use a small brass nut with slimline bushings as spacers to hold the blank(s) in place, an inferior method.)
  • Bushings for slimline pens - you use them to match the end diameters of the pen blanks so they match a slimline type pen kit when it is time to assemble the pen.
  • Barrel trimmer set - You use this to "square up" the end of the pen blank and match the internal pen tube size. If the blank is not square, then there may be a gap between the metal pen kit parts and your finished pen blank after assembly. The four shafts and the brass tube are used to fit the five most common pen kit sizes.
  • 7mm Drill bit. Pictured but not mentioned in the listing, but someone says it is included, in the Q and A.
What your beginner pen turner requested above is some of the tooling that a beginner needs to get started turning pens. Here is what is missing:
  • A holder or some method to drill a hole through the pen blank(s). Many people use a drill press and a holder that keeps the pen blank perfectly vertical. (I drill on my lathe, but drilling on the lathe requires additional accessories. which can add up in price.)
  • Glue for gluing the brass tubes inside the pen blanks. CA glue (superglue) can work for beginners who want to get started turning without waiting. Most pen turners prefer epoxy.
  • A method to press the pen kit parts into the pen blanks for assembly. There are a variety of ways to do it. I use my lathe with a couple of plastic parts on the head and tail ends of the lathe. Cranking the tailstock on the lathe presses the parts together. You can easily make a home-brew version of it.
  • Pen kits and pen blanks, of course.
  • Drill bits that match the pen kit. Slimlines use a 7 mm drill. Other kits may require larger drill bits.
  • Bushings to match the pen kits. Slimline bushing are good for slimline pens, but they are useful as spacers on pen mandrels, too. Other pen kits require different bushings that match the pen kit. Some pen kit "families" share the same bushing sizes.
  • Assorted sandpaper.
  • Finish - Friction polishes are easy and popular, but less durable. CA glue is another popular finish - glossy, hard, and durable, but it takes a little practice to get right.
  • Optional for CA finishes: A way to polish the finish when you're done. I would recommend a set of Micro-mesh pads. I buy the larger 3x4 inch ones and cut them into three sets.

-> What you ordered (the second link) assumes that the recipient already has the mandrel, barrel trimmer, and all the other lathe accessories I described above, including drilling and assembly tools.
-> None of them are included in that second link that you ordered. Basically, the second link is nothing more than a set of pen kits, matching bushings, and pen blanks. It is something that someone would buy if they already have all the tooling they need to turn pens, but now they want additional kits, bushings, and pen blanks to make additional pens. (NOTE: If you already have the bushings for a given pen kit, you don't need to buy them again.)

That is the source of my confusion - your beginner pen turner requested some basic tooling that someone needs to turn pens. Without the tooling they requested and the other tool parts I mentioned above, your beginning pen turner will not be able to make pens with what you ordered; at least not yet.
Thank you! My initial post wasn't clear - I purchased the items at both of the links I included in my post (the mandrel kit and the pen kit). All of this information is very helpful. I had contemplating going to Lee Valley to speak with someone but thought I would have better luck on this forum, and think I made a good choice. Lee Valley employees are always incredibly helpful but not necessarily experts in any particular craft. Thanks again for such a thorough response!
 

magpens

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
15,749
Location
Canada
Thank you! My initial post wasn't clear - I purchased the items at both of the links I included in my post (the mandrel kit and the pen kit). All of this information is very helpful. I had contemplating going to Lee Valley to speak with someone but thought I would have better luck on this forum, and think I made a good choice. Lee Valley employees are always incredibly helpful but not necessarily experts in any particular craft. Thanks again for such a thorough response!
@lkh77
The staff at Lee Valley is anxious to be helpful, and generally is that, if they are sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced.
But, one thing about Lee Valley, is that their "stuff" is overly expensive.
Pen drilling drill bits, for example . . . they would probably try to sell you a Colt brand 7 mm "parabolic" drill bit for pen turning.
I don't know the characteristics of such a "parabolic" drill bit, priced at >$25, and I don't know why they recommend it for the job.
I DO know that a good quality, sharp "jobber" drill bit (eg. Norseman brand) is much cheaper and does the job admirably.
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
892
Thank you! My initial post wasn't clear - I purchased the items at both of the links I included in my post (the mandrel kit and the pen kit). All of this information is very helpful. I had contemplating going to Lee Valley to speak with someone but thought I would have better luck on this forum, and think I made a good choice. Lee Valley employees are always incredibly helpful but not necessarily experts in any particular craft. Thanks again for such a thorough response!
You're welcome. Did you look at the link I posted? You might also scroll down in the thread to see additional helpful comments, too. This one:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/thr...t-needed-for-pen-turning.215309/#post-2076831

I usually recommend buying spare brass tubes for the pens. Having spare tubes takes a lot of the stress out of turning pens. If you mess up, just take another pen blank with a spare tube and start over. The parts from the pen kit are still good and ready to be assembled after you get a successful turning. Additional wood pen blanks are readily available. You can take ordinary boards, branches, old furniture, and many other sources of wood to make pen blanks ... or simply buy a few spare pen blanks at the store. Beginners should start with wood. Plastics and acrylics come later.
 
Last edited:

magpens

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
15,749
Location
Canada
@penicillin

Thanks for giving that link from the ... woodworkingtalk ... website. . I wish I had had the info there when I first started in pen turning !

Even now . . . I have learned useful stuff . . . I think I shall keep an eye on that website .
 

jttheclockman

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
16,765
Location
NJ, USA.
Others have given you good suggestions. The one thing I would say is stay away from the barrel trimmer. To me that looks like a steel trimmer. It will dull fast. The duller it gets the more of a tendency you have to push harder on it and could cause blowouts. If you are going with a barrel trimmer I suggest a carbide cutter and a 4 head cutter as opposed to a 2 head cutter. Now maybe I missed it in the description and this is a carbide cutter but for the price I am doubting it. Just my little advice. Good luck.
 

TonyL

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
8,659
Location
Georgia
Good morning everyone! I am buying gifts for a beginner pen turner. He already has a mini lathe and associated attachments, and he requested this pen turning mandrel and barrel trimmer kit: https://www.amazon.ca/Turning-Mandrel-Deluxe-Barrel-Trimmer/dp/B004H6GIPY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=#2MT+Pen+Turning+Mandrel+and+Deluxe+Barrel+Trimmer+Kit&qid=1640102975&sr=8-1.

However, the pen kit he requested was on backorder, so I took a chance and ordered this one instead:https://www.amazon.ca/Penn-State-Industries-PKSP105A-Bundle/dp/B07DGJ46WK/ref=sr_1_1?crid=357IM7MJ1NRZU&keywords=Penn+State+Industries+PKSP105A+7mm+Pen+Kit+Bundle+#1+Woodturning+Project&qid=1640103007&sprefix=penn+state+industries+pksp105a+7mm+pen+kit+bundle+1+woodturning+project,aps,198&sr=8-1.

Since I don't know much about pen turning, I'm hoping someone can tell me if there is a key thing missing that would prevent him from using these items together (i.e. a bit or bushing I would still need to buy).

As an aside, the pen kit came with 10 identical pen blanks, which seems odd given the image of the item shows eight very different pens. Is this common?

Many thanks!
LKH
Which kit is on backorder please? Maybe, I have them. I can send, if I do.
 

darrin1200

Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2010
Messages
1,617
Location
Lyn, Ontario, Canada
I think everyone has covered the basics. One thing to note, is that we have a good pen supplier here in Ontario. William Woodwrite
There are a few penmakers in the Ottawa area, I am down near Brockville but come up there sometimes. If you or he have any questions or need anything, give me a shout.
 
Top Bottom