I have been wanting a lathe for a very long time. In fact since I started working on wood projects a couple years ago I have been looking into finding a cheap way to get or build one. I really didn’t want to pick up a broken one on Craigslist to rebuild and I also didn’t want to make one out of a drill like I have seen others do on Youtube. There really is nothing wrong with either of those options but I wanted my first lathe to be new, pretty, and powerful. The wait was TOTALLY worth it! My parents got me this one for Christmas this year and I absolutely LOVE it! They went above and beyond also. I got the biggest (12in x 33in) lathe with the reversible head stock. My list of projects I want to do have just tripled!
As much as I want to jump right into making large and complicated stuff, I decided to start with the smaller things like pens. One thing I was warned about when starting pen turning is that it can get a bit expensive just to start. This is absolutely true. Even with the cost of the lathe aside the additional tools and parts that you need can quickly add up. I probably spent more than I should have to get started on this but I was just too excited to wait. Also I figure I can probably sell some pens to make up some of the cost. Even if I don’t sell any I can make some pretty cool gifts.
I picked up most of my starting tools and materials from Woodcraft. They had a pack of really nice wood blanks on sale also. I also picked up a pen kit. I wanted to start with something simple so I chose the slimline series but I didn’t want it to be too plain so I grabbed the stylus one. For my first pen it turned out pretty darn good! There are a few flaws and things I could have done if I were going to sell it but I never intended on selling my first one anyway. The flaws are very minor but I just want the pens I sell to be as close to perfect as possible. When I was turning it I didn’t make it completely flush to the other parts. I also didn’t sand and seal it as much as I could have. Again these are all very minor and I still love the pen. I also learned from it so the next ones I make will be a lot better.
A couple days later I went to Rockler to pick up some more exotic woods and pen kits. I also picked up a mesh sanding kit along with some CA Glue to get a better finish on my pens. When I came home I turned another slimline pen to give to my dad. That one turned out a lot better when it comes to making the parts all flush. I still had a little trouble with the shine but I really like how it turned out and my dad loves it!