So what do I need as a new turner?

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healeydays

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Folks,

Didn't see anything that got into a list of things a new turner need to own, so I thought I would put it out there.

Let's say I have a Jet mini lathe straight out of the box, and have never bought anything to go with it to turn pens. The questions are:
  • What do I need to buy to be able to turn pens on a lathe?
  • What are nice to haves, but not really needed by the beginner turner?
  • What are nice to haves, that I should save my money and never buy as I'll use it once and never again?

Thanks,
Mike B
(trying to figure it all out and know I never will in a lifetime)
 
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healeydays

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Got to be honest, I'm sitting in that chair right now.

I went to a meeting of the NH Woodworkers Guild 2 weekends ago to the turners subgroup and got to make my first 3 pens. When I was turning, the gentleman who was showing me how mentioned how that first pen on your own lathe costs $300 and each pen afterwards cost decreases by $1.

I've got to be nutz...
 

mredburn

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He was understating the costs. Let me make that. He was grossly underestimating the costs.:eek:
 
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mredburn

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DIgital calipers. a cheap pair is fine.
a grinder to sharpen your tools
center finder.
selection of sandpaper. 220-2000 or the micro mesh set(s)
I advocate going right to turning between centers but you may prefer to start with a mandrel.
A complete set of drill bits, fractional, letter, number and metric.
Live 60 degree center.
Center drill ( its a short specialty drill bit)
You do not need
a pen press, there are other ways.
Metric tap an die sets unless you want to use them for other things than pen making


save up for a collet chuck and collets. figure 200.00 for that alone.
a 4 jaw scroll chuck
A drill press if you cant drill on the lathe yet.
Table saw
Band saw
sleds for each
metal lathe
mill
another bigger wood lathe.
Specialty metric taps and dies sizes used in pens

Those are quick few I can name off the top of my head
 
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MarkD

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Mike's list is pretty good however you could get started by selecting one or two pen styles ( ie slimline or sierra ) and purchase the bits and bushings for those styles rather than a complete set. That being said, if you start to branch out you will quicky realize that you should bought the sets to begin with. Also if your just plan to work with pen kits you may not need the taps and dies for awhile.
 

frank123

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Just get a basic turning tool -or set- and a dead center or pen mandrel for the headstock and a live center for the tailstock (probably comes with one, my HF mini did).

A drill chuck with a taper mandrel for the tailstock is nice, but not immediately necessary.

Add a few slimline kits and some blanks of your desire and make a few.

After that add whatever you think yo need as you find the need for it developing, that saves both a lot of money and shop space on things that end up sitting on a shelf and never used.

FWIW, I didn't even have a set of proper turning tools when I made my first pen, I just used a set of old carving tools at first and later ground down a cheap set of HF wood chisels I had but never used to scraper and skew shapes.

BTW, I bought multiple different mandrels before finally trying TBC and haven't used them since. Wish I had gone that route first.
 

jbswearingen

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I think you need to search through the first couple dozen pages of threads in this section. Your question has been asked, answered, and argued many times over, ad nauseum.
 

low_48

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Got to be honest, I'm sitting in that chair right now.

I went to a meeting of the NH Woodworkers Guild 2 weekends ago to the turners subgroup and got to make my first 3 pens. When I was turning, the gentleman who was showing me how mentioned how that first pen on your own lathe costs $300 and each pen afterwards cost decreases by $1.

I've got to be nutz...
I'd say he was off by a factor of 10, more like $3,000. Probably not that much, but if you start with a $300 lathe, you'll be buying a $700 lathe in about a year. Then it will be a $1800 lathe, you get the picture. So $700 lathe, $150 grinder to sharpen tools, $100 drill press, $300 bandsaw, $300 lathe chisels, then $300 for the pen turning specialties. So I guess more like $2000 to get you turning. But you haven't bought any blanks or kits yet. Yup, $3000.
 
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It is expensive...one thing I see alot is ads on craigslist of lathes and pen turning starter tools...people bought a lathe..TOWMBO found out how much it cost and off to craigslist it goes. Keep an eye out for a decent lathe.
 
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I think the list can be very simple it doesn't need to be huge.

Absolute needs
Pen Kit of your choice. (Many start with Slimline and so did I don't invest heavily in them you will outgrow them quickly you can make many different 7mm kits without purchasing new bushings)
Pen Press or a clamp (you can use a bar clamp to put your pens together but I much prefer my press I have used both)
pen mandrel (7mm with bushings)
7mm drill bit
Barrel trimmer (7mm standard barrel trimmer will do)
Sandpaper that goes up to 600 grit (you will need micro mesh if you are going to do acrylic)
Friction polish (I use http://www.doctorswoodshop.com/Products/PensPlus.aspx)(I also use the walnut oil and wet sand with that)
Wooden blank (I would start with wood not acrylic)
You will need to drill those blanks. If you already have a drill press I would just get a wooden clamp and use it to hold your blank square and straight up and down while you drill it on the drill press. If you don't have a drill press you could set up your lathe to do your drilling (this is definitely what I do) it can be expensive to get started doing this but you won't regret the investment.
Roll of paper towels to apply friction polish.
Turning tools. I use a carbide tool that I got here on the forum. Woodchuck pro and love it. Get the one with a round carbide tool it is the easiest to use. (I learned that here on the forum by asking) If you already have turning tools use them!
That should about do it for the basics.
 

Hunter1787

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I think that the best answer is that it all depends on how much time vs money you have. I was very short on the money bit and rather long on the time bit. So I made do with several decidedly non-regulation things. Here is the list of things that I bought to start with.

Lathe. I bought a Rikon for $300.

Pen mandrel. I make kit pens and the mandrel was the cheapest way of doing it.

I already had the drill press, so that was not an issue.

I had an old chisel that I reground and used as a skew, so that was also no cost. I recently bought a Woodstock skew and it is much much better, but the other one did work…

I have a grinder but one of the wheels is off balance and I haven't re-trued it yet. So far I have just used sandpaper, 220 to 2000 grit and then a leather strop with tripoli compound. It keeps my skew shaving sharp.

After that you'll need some kits, some pen blanks, drill bits, sandpaper, glue (I use Gorilla Glue) to glue the tubes in to the blanks, glue for finishing wood, and micro mesh for acrylic.

I don't know how much the total comes to but it is probably somewhere around $500. Now considering that I have sold several pens along the way, and spent a good bit more on parts and the like, I have probably got around $1000 in pen turning.

But I think that it all comes down to how much you are willing to work to get your results.

I hope this helps.

John
 

seamus7227

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....or if you are cheap like me, you buy from pawnshops, garage sales, craigslist, etc and learn the importance of quality tools and why everyone above continues to mention all the quality stuff. I promise, it is for a very good reason. I always tried to find the inexpensive way to either make something or buy cheap and in the long run i ended up buying the good stuff. So save yourself the heartache on some of these things. If i were going to encourage you to buy something, it would be a Beall Collet Chuck and a set of collets. Then you can get out of buying the morse taper section of a pen mandrel and buy just the mandrell itself, the 1/4" collet holds it perfectly! The Beall can be used for rifle shell components, kitless pen making, really an endless amount of different uses! And if you dont want to buy the Beall, you can still go with the one that PSI sells, im sure that would suffice.


When it comes to cost of the first pen, i would $3000 is pretty close. There was a point where SWMBO said that i needed to lay off the spending cuz she wasnt seeing anything in return. (that was in the beginning, she had a totally different attitude once i sold my first few pens and saw the outcome!)

Results may vary
 
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stonepecker

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Two things I have found that are priceless. That individual that will answer all your silly questions without laughing in your face. I call that person a MENTOR.....when you have one, you will find out just how priceless they are. The second thing is one (or two) good reference books.
Something I enjoy, if you have a local turning club.......join it. A good place to learn besides getting advice here. The library here is one of the best.

Good luck,
 

healeydays

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I think you need to search through the first couple dozen pages of threads in this section. Your question has been asked, answered, and argued many times over, ad nauseum.

Brad,

Are you just angry in general? This seems to be the way you answer any question I have on this site! I do look for the answers, but when there is no central note on the forum, I try to ask a question in a way that it makes it easier for the next guy!!!

By setting this question up with the title I did, it makes it so much easier for a new turner to get these answers hopefully in one place instead of wandering the site reading posts that might have a key word dealing with this subject, but doesn't state what is being really looked for. Wouldn't you like to be able to go to the answer right off the bat?

The http://www.penturners.org/forum/f139/iap-library-penturning-101-start-here-90772/ was a nice place to start if you already had the gear, this question was to try to grab the wisdom from members on what is needed as a shopping list of equipment to be successful at the hobby. You comments do nothing for this conversation.

I guess if you don't like what is being asked, sometimes it's better to just move to the next note and not say anything if you have nothing productive to add...
 

Chrisjan

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The one thing I didnt see here; was a fine diamond file (credit card size) for honing your skew everytime...
I can get by without searching for most of the tools by hook or by crook - but a sharp skew I reckon is the most important! My two-year-old always runs of with the damn file - I had to pick it out of the sandpit, sand toybox, dust bin, garden, scrap pile, charcoal bag, braaier , toilet, bath, dog food container, his bed and recently in my bakkie's exhaust pipe... If only I bought two in the first instance -would have saved me a lot of time!
 

healeydays

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Hi Mike,
dont even think about asking for that pen back you made me. lol ($300)

Harry,

A bet was a bet. To you who don't know what he's talking about, Harry and I had a pen wager on the Patriots-Ravens game from another site. Guess who I had? So I had to make him a pen so Harry, actually since you got pen #3 your pen is only worth $298...

Mike
 
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Smitty37

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Got to be honest, I'm sitting in that chair right now.

I went to a meeting of the NH Woodworkers Guild 2 weekends ago to the turners subgroup and got to make my first 3 pens. When I was turning, the gentleman who was showing me how mentioned how that first pen on your own lathe costs $300 and each pen afterwards cost decreases by $1.

I've got to be nutz...
Don't let all the chit-chat about how expensive it is scare you. If you already have the lathe as you asked us to assume. The rest to get started is probably less than $500.

You'll need a way to drill the blanks and some drill bits a drill press is very handy but there are other ways to drill blanks - If you already have both full metric and ASE bit sets, you'll have most of what you need. You can get a good used Drill Press for price pretty reasonable (<$150) price if you have patience.


You'll need some sort of press to assemble the kits...a pen press is not expensive but you can get by using a C clamp, arbor press or even a drill press. Press $40.00

You'll need about 3 turning chisels and you can do quite well with inexpensive ones to start but get carbide tipped. $60.00

I used a diamond sharpening set to keep mine honed for a long time and it works just fine so long as you are careful when using it. I got a 4 piece set from PSI. $35.00

You can make a jig to cut blanks to length with a chop saw. I have one 1 bought that uses the tube to determine the length and I can set it up to be 1/8 longer probably cost about $35

Sandpaper and finishing supplies .... maybe $100 -150

Some pen kits to get you started - Slimlines are a good choice because they allow you a lot of leaway in the shape of the bbl so you can parctice using the chisels to find out what they do and how to do it. Then some single bbl like the sierra/gatsby/le roi/and a dozen others. Stay low priced until you get your feet wet and then you can spend about as much as you want.

Now a Band Saw is handy as is a table saw with jigs or sleds - there are some great chisels out there and there are a lot of attachments for your lathe that you'll want if you get serious about this hobby - but don't buy them until you know you're serious...they are expensive.
 

beck3906

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What do you need?


Therapy before you get started. :)

Find a good 12-point program and go ahead and admit your addiction. It may save you troubles later. :biggrin:
 

longbeard

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Hi Mike,
dont even think about asking for that pen back you made me. lol ($300)

Harry,

A bet was a bet. To you who don't know what he's talking about, Harry and I had a pen wager on the Patriots-Ravens game from another site. Guess who I had? So I had to make him a pen so Harry, actually since you got pen #3 your pen is only worth $298...

Mike
Darn it!! the value is dropping by the minute. :biggrin:
 

healeydays

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Guys,

Just to let you guys know more about me and what is in the woodshop. I have been doing flatwork for some time mainly into end grain cutting boards in exotic woods. I am also a repurposer that takes old junk and converts it to usable art, such as taking a jeep grill and making it into a chair, taking an old tailgate and making into a garden bench, taking an old barn door and making it into a home office desk or take an old red wagon and making it into a pool side bar.

I have most tools I need such as drill press, chop saws, planers etc and lots of scraps. As others who know me here will attest to, I love casting unusual ugly wood and anything else I think would make for an interesting blank. I have also held contests at other sites giving some of my woods to see what others can create with unusual pieces.

It's fun making the blanks, but I would like to take it to that next level (I think) and start doing some turning.

Mike B
 

healeydays

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Hi Mike,
dont even think about asking for that pen back you made me. lol ($300)

Harry,

A bet was a bet. To you who don't know what he's talking about, Harry and I had a pen wager on the Patriots-Ravens game from another site. Guess who I had? So I had to make him a pen so Harry, actually since you got pen #3 your pen is only worth $298...

Mike
Darn it!! the value is dropping by the minute. :biggrin:
Sorry Bud...
 

jbswearingen

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I think you need to search through the first couple dozen pages of threads in this section. Your question has been asked, answered, and argued many times over, ad nauseum.

Brad,

Are you just angry in general? This seems to be the way you answer any question I have on this site! I do look for the answers, but when there is no central note on the forum, I try to ask a question in a way that it makes it easier for the next guy!!!

By setting this question up with the title I did, it makes it so much easier for a new turner to get these answers hopefully in one place instead of wandering the site reading posts that might have a key word dealing with this subject, but doesn't state what is being really looked for. Wouldn't you like to be able to go to the answer right off the bat?

The http://www.penturners.org/forum/f139/iap-library-penturning-101-start-here-90772/ was a nice place to start if you already had the gear, this question was to try to grab the wisdom from members on what is needed as a shopping list of equipment to be successful at the hobby. You comments do nothing for this conversation.

I guess if you don't like what is being asked, sometimes it's better to just move to the next note and not say anything if you have nothing productive to add...


I'm sorry. I didn't intend to sound that way. No, not at all angry. I apologize if I offended. Questions like this have been answered over and over and over and over and over and...

Just last week (I think it was) somebody asked the same question. The library we have here has an AMAZING selection of reading that you should read through once or thrice. Scan several pages of thread listings; you'll find this question and all the same answers in those threads.

I know I often come across as blunt and impatient. I'm really not. Unfortunately, inflection is rather difficult to inject into text, thought I do try to sound as friendly as I'm trying to be.
 
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