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The real cost of making a pen

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Blog entry by PanamaJack posted 03-06-2012 06:10 PM 11319 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m frequently asked, “What does it actually cost to make a pen?” (Mostly at arts and craft shows I am attending or participating in.) (I keep a copy at all art shows now)

Here’s the list of items that I use to make a pen. The good news is that after the first pen you make they become much less expensive. Some of these items can be eliminated or something else can be substituted for what is listed. If you already have a table saw, or band saw, a drill press or other items the initial cost will be lower.

Note; I am using mostly used equipment myself! Except for hand tools that I did not have.

Band saw, Craftsman 14” with miter standard miter gage (Used) $250
Jet JW-1236 Lathe (Used) $450
Drill Press, bench style okay with 2 3/8“ spindle stroke at least $150
3 lathe tools, Sorby HSS, ¾ roughing gouge-parting tool-3/8”spindle gough-1 ¼” skew $200+/-
Grinder, slow speed, 8” with white wheels, $120 +/-
Grinding/sharpening jig, Wolverine complete set $170
Belt Sander with disk is best $200
Mandrel, adjustable #2 MT for the Jet lathe $25
Barrel trimmer, variable size shafts, Penn State Industries $30
Drill bits, 7mm, 8mm, 10mm, 3/8” and others as needed $40+/-
60 degree live center, #2 MT for the Jet lathe – Little Machine Shop $25
CA glue, thick, medium and thin $25
Aerosol accelerator $10
Tube insertion tool $10
MicroMesh sandpaper, 9 pc set 1500 to 12000 grade $ 25+/-
Blue paper towels, package, from Auto Zone Per roll $ 3
Novus plastic polishes $6
Pen kits, depending upon the style pen being made range from $2 to $50, an average $8
Pen blank, depending upon the look desired, either acrylic or wood – average $6

Total for my first made pen………....................approximately $1800.00

And you thought this was an inexpensive hobby???

On the lighter side the 2nd pen will only cost about $8.00!

To get started you will also need some other much needed items as well as those tools and materials listed above: Good lighting above the lathe and a batch of Safety Gear which could include these and more: A good set of safety glasses and/or a face hood, Nose and mouth mask, (protect from dust) and maybe a leather apron so as to not ruin your clothes. Just to mention a few.

As with any hobby, there are things that you will want to add as time and experience dictate. To laminate a blank you will want some two part epoxy and various materials to be used for the inlay. A lot of these materials can be procured free, others will cost a bit. You may want to add a nice gift box or a simulated velvet bag to protect the finished pen.

Then there are the things you will hear of and just have to try, they will add to the learning curve. Above all, have fun and let your imagination run, you will be surprised at what you can achieve. If you are unsure whether you really want to get into this, I suggest you take a class where you can make a pen under the watchful eye of somwone that knows how. It will help you a lot!

This could also be rewritten for other types of woodworking, say cabinets or furniture… Enjoy.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)



8 comments so far

View RickL's profile

RickL

253 posts in 3545 days


#1 posted 03-06-2012 07:17 PM

Great post, and so true. Thanks for sharing

-- Rick, Union,KY firstlightwoodworking.blogspot.com

View PanamaJack's profile

PanamaJack

4483 posts in 3682 days


#2 posted 03-06-2012 08:24 PM

Rick,
If you go to arts and crafts shows you know what happens. A scant few cannot believe what a pen or a jewelry box costs. (What ever you might be selling) If you say one word it fires them up even more. No matter what you say odds are you won’t sell them a thing. I simply refer them to this page that’s displayed in a three ringed binder in my booth.

One gal sent their husband back later in the show I was in, just this past Saturday, to buy a pen from me. She absolutely loved the pen, but too embarrassed to come back after raising a small ruckus. He apologized, but I told him that he didn’t need to and that I wouldn’t bite if she came back. :-)

I plan on being there next year just to see what happens next!

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

17255 posts in 2793 days


#3 posted 03-06-2012 10:50 PM

Wow, so if you sell them @ $20 ea with a profit margin of 12 dollars it will take 150 pens to get all your money back or only 90 before you start making money and get into the black. LOL

Amazing how expensive this hobby of ours is.

Great post!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View PanamaJack's profile

PanamaJack

4483 posts in 3682 days


#4 posted 03-07-2012 12:36 PM

That’s why I bought used equipment Ken.

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View FireWolf1122's profile

FireWolf1122

1 post in 8 days


#5 posted 04-18-2017 01:31 PM

I find this very surprising mainly because I am a beginner in turning and have only just started, I have actually made 3 acrylic pens, and about 4 wooden pens all 7 mm and slimline ballpoint pens. I have yet to make a way to properly price my pens so I am wondering if you could possible help me out with that.

View GR8HUNTER's profile (online now)

GR8HUNTER

1740 posts in 317 days


#6 posted 04-18-2017 01:48 PM

great post ….but in my case ….don’t forget to add on quart of blood ,sweat ,and tears …..LMAO :<)) THANKS 4 posting

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View PanamaJack's profile

PanamaJack

4483 posts in 3682 days


#7 posted 04-18-2017 06:02 PM

When I began to turn pens a while back (10+ years now) I called it my very expensive hobby, giving most of all away, if not up to my standards. Or at most cost – just to buy another kit!

I price my pens, to some degree, according to feedback I receive from the IAP, International Association of Penturners.

http://www.penturners.org/

I invite you to join this great organization, it FREE, and it has a wealth of information about any type pen you have ever seen! Look into the “Library” you can spend months there just reading about how to do this or that with a piece of week or plastic to make a pen!

Basically it is 3 times costs. Including delivery of product to your home. Even if free, you must add cost of buying that blank, kit etc. (for replacement). Now then I do inflate the prices ($20 slimlines) on the lessor kits, primarily Slims, Cigars and Sierra styles. I also add $5 to the pen, for an CA, superglue, finish on wood or antler/horn. This is the “going price in my market”. Sounds like a bit of money but think about this: If you get into an Art Show that costs you $25 to just jury in, then somewhere $125-200 to rent the space. This being the primary seller(s) in most shows….well that just helps to “Make Rent”. Again this is what my area, in south central Indiana, will allow…Some can and do get more and unfortunately some do make less…. (A gentleman friend of mine that is a “BigTime” seller of pens, dealing mostly in Slimlines, sells his for $39.95 each in lots of a thousand!)

Quality also counts. Being Different helps a lot! Something different than anyone else. Circuit board pens, Deer antler, bullet pens. Look at my cheap website for pictures. :-D

http://kimeryscreations.webs.com/

Especially around the Holiday’s, more than one… Mother’s Day and Dad’s Day, Graduation, Military for Memorial Day and July 4th and Christmas….

Hope this answers all and more. Don’t hesitate to email or get back with me again! Any Questions now…..

Practice makes Perfect!
Randy

P.S. the picture inserted is my First Watch Parts Pen, one that I cast myself.


I find this very surprising mainly because I am a beginner in turning and have only just started, I have actually made 3 acrylic pens, and about 4 wooden pens all 7 mm and slimline ballpoint pens. I have yet to make a way to properly price my pens so I am wondering if you could possible help me out with that.

- FireWolf1122


-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View PanamaJack's profile

PanamaJack

4483 posts in 3682 days


#8 posted 04-18-2017 06:03 PM

Got that right!!


great post ….but in my case ….don t forget to add on quart of blood ,sweat ,and tears …..LMAO :<)) THANKS 4 posting

- GR8HUNTER


-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

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