pen turning

Pen Turning: A Comprehensive Guide

I’m passionate about pen turning. You can probably see that reflected in the many pen-turning articles / tutorials scattered across my website. Some of my tutorials have been featured on Instructables and Snapguide. I’ve been a pen turner now for more than 15 years and love introducing others to this exciting hobby. So I thought it would be helpful to create a pen turning resources page where I can list the best of those articles and you could have one page to come back to if you need something. I have also included some of the best articles and resources from other sources around the web.  Please consider bookmarking this page for future reference. Enjoy!

Disclosure: Some of the links below (and links within some articles) are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click on an affiliate link and you decide to purchase something via that link. Please understand that my first objective is to share helpful content and recommendations that I believe in and I think will benefit you. The commissions I earn here will be on the small side and will go toward helping maintain this site. Please don’t spend money on any recommendations or products unless you think you need them or if they don’f fulfill your goals.

Help Getting Started with Pen Turning

The articles below will share how to get started with pen turning. What I love about pen turning is that it’s a very affordable hobby and the tools you need only take up a small space in the shop. The biggest expense will be the lathe, but you can shop around and find one at a good price. These articles also talk about some of the supplies you will need as well as some safety tips.

Setting Up Your Pen-Turning Shop – Tools and Materials Needed

I often get asked what tools and supplies are needed to get into the pen-turning hobby. Although a lot of specialty tools have been designed just for the pen turner, you will discover that you don’t need all of them. You many already have most of the tools already. The links below should steer you in the right direction.

Pen Turning Tutorials for Beginners

Some of these tutorial were written by me and some I found in my research. They all take you step-by-step through the process of producing a basic pen. Lots of good pictures and clear instructions.

Pen Turning Videos

Many, including myself, enjoy watching videos over static photos and written instructions. Some of us are more visual learners, so videos can be a valuable resource for learning. These videos are well done and will take you through the pen making process step-by-step.

Pen Turning Workshops

It’s great to read books, tutorials, and watch videos, but if you want to take your training to the next level, I would advise you to attend a workshop. You can probably find an affordable workshop at a craft store near you or join a wood turning club. Both can be great sources for one-on-one instruction.

  • Woodcraft Store – I buy several pen kits from this store and they offer workshops at reasonable prices.
  • Rockler Classes – Lots of great woodworking instruction here.
  • Atlanta Woodworking Show – A short article describing my visit to Atlanta’s annual woodworking show. If you live close by, I highly recommend this show. Lots of great instruction and demos.

Pen Kits and Pen Kit Suppliers

I didn’t realize how many pen kit suppliers were out there until I did the research. To be honest, I order mostly from PSI, Woodcraft, and Rockler. But I also discovered a wonderful supplier called Classic Nib and love their kits. The last link in this section will give you a very comprehensive list of pen kit suppliers. I also shared links to training videos and tutorials if the supplier provided them. Spend some time looking around and comparing prices. Some kits will be sold exclusively through one supplier, but many will not.

How to Finish Your Pen

To help your pen last and to bring out the beauty of the woodgrain, you will want to know how to successfully finish your pen. Below are a few resources that will help you understand how to finish a pen.

Selling and Marketing Your Pens

I’m not ready to say I’m an expert in this area, but I have had some experience with selling pens. Every year, I sell a few pens, and I’ve learned a few tips I’d like to share. My advice would be not to quick your day job, but if you want to pursue this route, test it out first. Some people have done well and sell their pens and crafts full time.


You might think that books are old school, but I would say don’t count them out. The thing about books is that they are usually well vetted before publication and they tend to be very thorough. The authors of the books I have listed are recognized authorities on pen turning. The books are well written and have fantastic photography.


FAQ and Troubleshooting

Maintaining Your Pen Turning Tools and Equipment

Other Pen Turning Resources and Tips

  • 12 Tips for Making Deer Antler Pens – This is probably more appropriate for the advanced pen turner. I love to use deer antler as a material for my pens. You do have to treat it a little differently than wood.
  • 37 Training Resources for Pen Turners – If you want to further your education in pen turning, I created this huge resource that will help you.
  • International Association of Pen Turners Library – I joined this forum several months ago and haven’t regretted it. The library is full of helpful tools, tips, and techniques.
  • Woodturner’s Resources – Another great site that is full of woodturning tips and resources. They also have a forum you can join to ask questions and share your work.
  • The Wood Database – A great resource you can use to research woods from all over the world. It highlights the wood’s characteristics and workability in the shop. A website to favorite or bookmark.
  • Where Can I Find Deer Antler? – I’m frequently asked where I get my deer antler for making pens. So, I wrote this short article to answer the question.
  • How to Make a Bandsaw Pen Box – A short tutorial that will show you how to build a bandsaw style box for displaying your pen.
  • Creative Crafters – An infographic I created to help stir a person’s creativity with woodworking.
  • Chuck Norris Woodworking Facts – Okay, just a little humor for anyone interested.
  • The 10 Benefits of Hobbies – You probably already know this if you have a hobby. But share with a friend who doesn’t have one.

If you would like for me to add additional links you believe would be helpful, please use the contact link and send me a message. Also, you can contact me if you have your own website or an article you produced. I will be glad to review it, and if it fits with this resource page, I’ll be glad to share it.

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