Starting out-I only want to buy things once-what is best?

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thewishman

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What advice would you give to a person that wants to start making pens, has a generous budget and doesn't want to go through intermediate steps? What tools, equipment and supplies would you buy now, if you lost everything and had a fat bank account to fund a start over?
 
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hanau

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full size lathe,(better to have to much that not enough)with assortment of chucks and jaws, mandrels
Drill press
table saw
Disk sander.
Carbide tool's(I don't like to sharpen)
Buffing system
sanding supplies
 

thewishman

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If I were to start again and buy tools that I wish I could use:

Full size lathe with electronically controlled variable speed - what would you recommend?

TBC bushings, leave the mandrels at the store!
(Nikitas does a great job, even making custom sets to my specifications)

A really nice parting tool - don't have a good one right now

Nova Stronghold chuck with Pen Plus drilling jaws
 

thewishman

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No tricks. We have lots of new people joining here and even more just reading through the site. All of us together have an incredible amount of information and practical experience.

This community must have more accumulated experience and knowledge of pen making than any other group in the world. Let's gather that wisdom and use it to help others in their journey.
 

magpens

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I would buy a small metal turning lathe ... say 7" x 14" ... from Little Machine Shop.

More expensive than a wood turning lathe, but you don't have the expense of wood-turning gouges, skews, parting tools, etc. ... a metal turning lathe is versatile and the tools are relatively cheap.
 

Sabaharr

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Slidell, LA
My suggestion would be to get 2 of the best of everything and let me have one set so I can assure you by test driving it for you. Then of course you don't want used stuff in your new shop so I will just keep the shop worn items and you can start out with all new but proven equipment.
 

Skie_M

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If I were starting over from scratch .....

I'ld still go with some Harbor Freight items, as there's just no other place around here for me to go (locally) for turning supplies and tools.

I'ld go for either the tabletop or upright version of the full size wood lathe (around 220 dollars), in order to get the power I really want for drilling operations and turning larger items like bowls and vases, which I can't do with my mini wood lathe.

I'ld throw down for a nicer larger belt/disc combo sander with mitre gauge setup to face my blanks ... probably 70 - 80 dollars for the tool, another 20 for the gadget.

I'ld still get the same cheap 20 dollar HFT lathe chisel set, because I know how to grind and sharpen them ...

And next go round, I think I'll just make my own carbide chisel handles and buy the inserts I want in 10-packs. 25 - 30 dollars for 10 ... handles around 15 bucks each.

I'ld also get me a nice 4-jaw chuck .... I'ld love me a Barracuda 2 series ... actually, make that TWO chucks. One for pen blank drilling that I would also use for bowl turning with the wide chuck jaw mount, the other for everyday use. Around 180 dollars each... pen blank drilling jaws are around 30 dollars.

I'ld still want my HFT miter saw, table saw, wet-cutting 7 inch diamond saw ... just for everyday purposes as well as cutting/ripping pen blanks from stock boards (and stone) ...

For dust collection, my vacumn cleaner just won't cut it. I'ld get a real dedicated dust collection system ... probably 2 of the small single-unit type from PSI for around 120 dollars each, and put them on wheeled dollies til I can get a nice large dust collection system to install in the walls of a dedicated wood shop. I'ld pay probably around 500 dollars for the installed version, but I'ld still keep the portable ones on dollies just for dedicated machine use and convenience ...



Now ... if money and shipping were no object .... would I go for the more expensive tools?

Maybe .... but I know right now that I can't afford such things, so I have to stay within my budget. My personal philosophy concerning tools is ....

Use the right tool for the job, even if it's a cheap version, as long as you are not pushing the tool past it's limits it will serve you for a long time. Know those limits and don't try to use a tool for something it was not designed to do.
 

Katya

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Hard to know whether this is "top-of-the-line" or "essential"..kinda both.
I'd go for a Trend air shield or some other kind of REALLY GOOD mask, and a REALLY GOOD dust collection system. Your lungs are precious.
 

BSea

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I agree with the full size lathe. Pens will many times lead to larger turnings.

Here's a good blog I read today on the subject: So you want to buy a lathe? A real lathe? | Carl Ford's Woodturning Blog

I'm not sure I agree with all his points, but he does cover things pretty well. And the good part is that it's recently updated.

Since most everything is based off the lathe, buying once makes sense. And one thing about the bigger lathes is that they seem to hold their value better than smaller lathes.
 

oneleggimp

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I would get a nice Bench Grinder with 8" wheel capacity. Slow speed preferred (Rikon makes a pretty decent one for $139.00 list price - often on sale at Woodcraft for $99.00 - in fact i "think" it's on sale in September. With that get a Wolverine Shapening Jig Start out with some cheap Lathe tools from Harbor Freight and Learn to grind them properly using the Wolverine jig. ( BTW - get the Versa Grind attachment for it -- the original - not the newer model. Skew grinding attachment is a nice help for the skews). After you learn to sharpen properly then you can invest in most expensive lathe tools I'd get a pair of CBN wheels for the grinder. Expensive but they run absolutely true and last forever whereas the Aluminum Oxide Wheels wear down and need dressing and balancing from time to time so in the long run CBN is a good investment - if you can afford the initial cost which apparently you can. I agree with the Full-Size Lathe. Since you have deep pockets, go for a decent lathe: Jet, Rikon, etc. You don't necessarily have to buy the Best Lathe - some of which are more than three thousand dollars. The Rikon and Jet Lathes are very well made, backed-up with good parts availability and customer service. Personally I'd get a 14" Band Saw with good re-saw capacity. As you progress, you may want to re-saw some tree limbs etc to make pen or stopper blanks. Drill Press - go for a floor model with a good amount of spindle travel. Jet just came out with a new 17" one that looks very good. As for carbide tools, I know of several pen turners who started out with carbide so they wouldn't have to sharpen tools but then decided to learn to sharpen tools and their carbide tools hardly ever get used. Nice sharp HSS Tools really is a joy to use. I'd personally get just a nice disk sander (maybe a 12") with a good cast iron table with a miter gauge slot. Also go for the best dust collection system. It's your health at stake.
 
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Best Tools

I saw someone mentioned carbide tools but I personally like HSS steel. I would buy the whole set of tools made by Carter and Son Toolworks. Not cheap but very high quality with a lifetime warranty.
 

Skie_M

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That is a great link with great information in it, but I do not think it applies to what the OP is trying to ask.

I maybe wrong but I think the OP is asking what you would but if money was not an object. Jet vs. Grizzly vs. Harbor Freight or HSS tools vs. Carbide
Harbor Freight Tools does not really belong on the list, though .... :)


If money is no object, go for the best quality, and HFT has much cheaper stuff with lower quality controls and standards. That having been said, can I do a very nice job even with that stuff? I sure have .... so have many others!
 

thewishman

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That is a great link with great information in it, but I do not think it applies to what the OP is trying to ask.

I maybe wrong but I think the OP is asking what you would but if money was not an object. Jet vs. Grizzly vs. Harbor Freight or HSS tools vs. Carbide

That is exactly what I wanted to get to in this thread. If you were starting over and had a stack of money, what would you buy now?
 

SteveG

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If going with a wood lathe, once you select a high quality chuck, then determine the jaw sets you will be using. (typically 3 or 4 different ones), then buy the same quality chuck for EACH SET OF JAWS. Change-out of jaws becomes fast and easy...just spin on the desired jaws (already mounted to the chuck). So no you have 4 chucks; keep 'em close to the lathe, not off hiding somewhere.
 

Dan Masshardt

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Mechanicsburg, PA
-Jet 1221 vs

-Highest quality slow speed grinder I could find - prob a baldor Motor. Cbn wheels and wolverine jig setup.

Dmt or trend diamond stone

Nova g3 or other high quality chuck with pen jaws

Keyless drill Chuck

Carbide tipped centers

Tbc bushings.

Drill doctor

Norseman bits

Floor standing drill press

Rikon or Laguna 14" deluxe bandsaw.

R2 and round small easy wood tools.

Sorby or crown 3/4" roughing gouge, skew, 1/2" spindle gouge, thin parting tool.

Mt2 taper mate

Trend airshield pro

Milescraft pen press

Good quality lamp for lathe
 

jj9ball

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Norfolk, NE
Okay, I'll bite.:) For lathe I would do the powermatic 3520b with an 18 inch bed extension. For drill press I would also do the new powermatic variable speed drill press. It has 6 inches of quill travel that is very handy for pens. For a bandsaw I think I might go with one of the 19 inch rikons (might be better than the 19 inch grizzly I currently use). For table saw I would go with the sawstop industrial 5 hp. I would have 2 grinders. The first one would be a high speed grinder with a cbn wheel or two. The second one would be a tormek t7 with the woodturners kit. I would also have a metal lathe. I think I would buy the south bend 9 X 19 and install an aftermarket quick change tool post. I would also buy a jet 12 X 20 lathe and use it as a second lathe/buffing station just in case I had a bigger project "stuck" on the powermatic lathe. I think I would get a collet chuck from beall and a nice set of er32 collets for kitless work. I think I would also get a bigger metal lathe 13 X 40 ish for any other work I might get interested in doing. A bigger lathe has more tailstock quill travel for drilling out kitless pen bodies more accurately. I would probably have a couple of chucks for the wood lathe. I would make sure they were both of the "easy wood" variety (mostly since money is no object) so jaw changes weren't so annoying. So now that I have spent around $25,000 of someone's imaginary money, I guess I will go back to listening to my wife yell, my kids whine, and most of the tools in my shop squeak, all the while dreaming about my "powerball" shop. Thanks for following me into dreamland.
 

jttheclockman

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One of my hopes in writing that was so people could make an informed decision and possibly avoid overbuying.
Hello Dan

I know basically what you were after when you started that and to me it fits in nicely here.

This question about having unlimited funds is for fairy tales. The thought of buying huge lathes if you are starting out is not the way to go. Many people drop out of the hobby after a year or so and then you see them selling off their tools. Now if they go the other way and want to expand there is absolutely no loss if you own a small lathe and a large one.

The tools, chucks, cutting machines, drilling machines just carry over. What you want is to buy quality the first time. It will always serve you well. Beginners need to understand that.

Now for those that want to dream have, at it. But if you are going down that route then why not get all Festool tools. Best on the market. Start there. One way Lathes. I can put together a $200,000 shop with no problem. :)
 

dogcatcher

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If I was inexperienced I would first find an experienced penturner in my area, and ask them to mentor me. I would even be willing to pay them to teach me as much as they can in their free time for a few weeks.

Not everybody will want all of the same tools as the next person, you need experience to know what you like and want to use. It is like the carbide tools, they have their place, but I have yet to see anyone turn a finished pen with one as good as a sharpened skew. So I would prefer a good set of chisels and sharpening system.
 

Bikerdad

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Starting over, practically unlimited funds?

I'd get a property of few acres, mostly covered with mature hardwoods. Build a large shop with a small detached house.

That said, moving into both more specificity AND staying focused on pen making.

  • fully optioned Robust American Beauty or Liberty Lathe (OneWay and Vicmarc would also be considered)
  • Oneida Dust Collection system (must work on 110-120v power, as I only have 1 220-240v outlet available)
  • MiniMax (or comparable European) 16"-20" Bandsaw (for handling big burl chunks and such)
  • Tools for Working Wood "Turners" Baldor Grinder Package
  • Vidmar or Lista storage cabinet(s) for blanks, kits, and tooling.
  • Clausing Drill Press.
  • Small metal lathe for making TBC bushings, or a TBC bushing supplier on speed dial. Tooling as required.
  • Jet 1220 VS set up with Beall Buffing System for buffing.
  • 12" Disc Sander (alone or in a combi machine)
  • 4 Jaw Chuck(s) (EasyWood or Vicmarc) with jaws.
  • EasyWood Mid Size Tools
  • Spindle Gouge
  • Roughing Gouge
  • Parting Tool
  • Lee Valley HSS Brad Point Bits, full Imperial & metric sets, with additional bits from the "pen" list.
  • PH Designs Side Vice for drilling blanks.
  • Full set of Whiteside Barrel Trimmer "bits" w/ carbide trimmers (2+)
  • Stock of Abranet, MicroMesh, plastic polish, CA, poly glue & epoxy.
  • A few Bessey K-Body and Jorgensen ISD (one handed) clamps for glue ups and assembly.
  • Split Top Roubo workbench w/ leg and wagon vises.

The above list would represent replacement (in a few cases) and upgrade (in more cases) of my current set-up, with the 2nd lathe & metal lathe being additions.

To take it to the "ultimate" level would include the following additional items, along with whatever tooling and accessories would be required.

  • Mill/Drill (this could potentially replace the drill press above)
  • Stabilizing set up (vacuum chamber, vacuum generator, Cactus juice, etc)
  • Pressure Pot
  • Blank molds
  • 16" Jointer/Planer (for preparing blank material that has been roughed on the bandsaw above)
  • Felder Sliding Tablesaw
  • Laser Engraver / cutter
  • 3d Printer capable of metal printing.
  • Vega Duplicator

Now, the beauty of most of that stuff is it's usable for other woodworking activities as well. Frankly, the majority of the machinery on both lists is overkill (nuclear bomb overkill is more like it) for pen turning alone. About the only machines on the lists that would make it into the "hey, you're going to live full time in an RV, whatchya gonna take with you" list are the Jet 1220 lathe and the TFWW Baldor Grinder setup.

hmmmm... another topic?
 
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