Pen turning has to be my new favorite wood working project. You can work with few tools and any type of wood, or in some cases, no wood at all! Pens have quickly become a favorite Christmas item and have begun to sell quite well.
I started woodworking at a very young age, playing in my dad’s basement workshop. That grew into the shop class in high school which is when “the bug” really bit! Although it has always been a passion of mine, it has always remained a hobby, until recently. The more I build, the more I seem to get noticed. I started turning pens about two years ago. I was looking for something small that had a faster turnaround time than the larger pieces I wanted to build. With very limited shop time, the pens were something I was able to go from start to finish in an evening.
The kits I use are available through various suppliers and the turning material choices are endless. I turn wood, acrylic, custom cast epoxy, and perhaps my favorite, deer antler.
Much like a sculptor, you never really know what is going to come out of the blank until it is turned. You are really only limited to the diameters of the ends of the pen. My favorite by far are the fountain pens. I find that I lean toward making them the most. Fountain pens tend to garner the most attention and therefore, sell at a higher price point.
Finishing the pens can be the trickiest part. I use between 3 to 13 costs of ca glue on all my pens. If you know how fast that stuff dries, you can imagine the challenge. The finish is then sanded starting with a 600 grit then micro-meshed through 12000 grit. I follow up with automotive scratch remover and a coat of wax before they are carefully assembled.
My favorite piece by far, and the prize of my collection is the Bluenose II pen made from a piece of the original Bluenose II that was re-launched in September 2012.