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.
- Getting Into Pen Turning with Penn State Industries
- Getting into Pen Turning – A basic article I wrote to explain the things to consider as you break in to pen turning.
- Planning Your First Workshop – A few things I have learned over the years in setting up a basic workshop.
- Choosing the Best Dust Mask – Protect yourself from dust. I tried out several dust masks and shared what I learned.
- 15 Safety Tips For the Wood Lathe – The lathe will provide you with hours of fun, but don’t forget safety. Here are a few tips to help you keep enjoying the hobby.
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.
- Getting Started in Pen Turning by Hank Lee
- A Checklist for Pen Turners – A simple list of items and materials you will need for pen turning.
- Your Guide for Choosing a Wood Lathe – Some great tips here for choosing your first wood lathe. All you need for pen turning is a basic mini lathe.
- Planning Your First Workshop – A basic guide that will help you plan your first workshop.
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.
- How to Make a Slimline Pen – This is the pen I highly recommend that beginners start out making. This is comprehensive tutorial on how to make the slimline pen.
- How to Make a Wooden Pen – This was the first pen turning tutorial I created and I published on a site called Snapguide. This tutorial is more pictorial than my other ones.
- How to Make a Bolt-Action Pen – The bolt action pen is one of my favorite theme pens. And it’s very easy to make.
- How to Turn a Wooden Pen on the Lathe – A great tutorial I found on the Instructables website.
- Pen Turning Tutorial – Here’s a great tutorial provided by the Penturningtexan.
- Modified Slimlines – A short tutorial where I take you step-by-step through my process to make a modified slimline pen.
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.
- Getting Started in Pen Turning – The Basics. A great quality instructional video from Makesomething.tv by David Picciuto.
- Capt’n Eddie – A great set of YouTube videos that includes pen turning and other woodturning.
- How to Turn a Pen – A simple and very well done video by CraftsSuppliesUSA.
- Getting Started Pen Turning – A video produced by Penn State Industries
- How to Turn Wooden Pens – This video is provided by Highland Woodworking.
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.
- Pen Kit Suppliers’ List – This is a comprehensive list of pen suppliers that I compiled. Some of these are well known and some are not so well known.
- Starter Pen Turning Kit – I have bought several pen kits from Rockler and the quality has been consistently great. Go to the Rockler website to see their big selection of pen kits.
- Arizona Silhouette – Supplies exceptional pen kits and turning project kits.
- PSI Slim Line Pen Kit (10 Pack), Chrome-Plated Penn State Industries (PSI) has also consistently provided great pen kits. You can visit their website to see a great variety of pen kits offered there.
- Legacy Slimline Pen Kit, Satin Gold Finish, Single Kit – You might want to start out buying just one Slimline kit. Compare prices though with some of the other pen kit supplier sites.
- Legacy Slimline Touch Pen Kit, Gold Finish, Pack of 10
- Amazon Pen Making Starter Pack 3
- Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop
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.
- How to Apply Insta-bond CA Pen Finish by Craft Supplies USA
- CA Finish for Pens by Don Ward
- Applying a CA Glue Finish to Your Pen Blanks by Penturningtexan
- Myland’s Friction Polish Polish Finishing System by Wood-n-Whimsies
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.
- 11 Tips for Selling and Promoting your Handmade Pens – These are some tips that I have tried and have worked for me.
- Want to Sell More Pens (or Crafts)? Then Just Shut Up – I was inspired to write this article after watching an episode of Shark Tank.
- Should I Profit from My Crafts? – Just some thoughts I had on which direction to take my pen-turning hobby. Selling crafts is not for everyone.
- The Handmade Marketplace – This is one of the best books I’ve found for showing you how to sell crafts. The book covers all crafts – not just pens.
- Handmade to Sell – A great book on owning, running, and growing a crafts business.
- Etsy Excellence: The Simple Guide to Creating a Thriving Etsy Business – A great resource book if you’re considering starting an Etsy shop. Etsy is where many crafters like to sell their wares online.
- How to Hold a Giveaway – Giveaways are an excellent way to promote your business or products. I’ve done this several times with my pens and have driven a lot of traffic to my website.
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.
- Pen Turner’s Workbook – I highly recommend this book. I referred to it quite frequently just starting out. Barry also has a good section on marketing and promoting your pens.
- Turning Pens And Pencils – This is the second book I read early on and I go back to it as a resource time and time again.
- The Pen Turner’s Bible
- Books on Pen Turning – A Short Review
- The Real Wood Bible – A Book Review
- Turning Pens with Kip & Rex Vol. 1
- Turning Pens with Kip & Rex, Volume 2
- Turning Pens (Making Pens on the Wood Lathe) DVD
- Pen Turning DVDs by Barry Gross
FAQ and Troubleshooting
- Lathe Speed: Turning Pens by Penturningtexan
- What Paper Towels Should I Use for a CA Finish by Penturningtexan
- 20 Steps to Turning Better Pens – Great article full of tips for better pen making.
- How to Avoid Cracked Pen Barrels by Eric Anderson
Maintaining Your Pen Turning Tools and Equipment
- Woodturning Tool Sharpening Basics by Craft Supplies USA
- How to Maintain Your Lathe by Craft Supplies USA
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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