The real cost of making a pen

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Blog entry by PanamaJack posted 03-06-2012 06:10 PM 10867 reads 1 time favorited 4 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)

4 comments so far

View RickL's profile


253 posts in 3487 days

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

Great post, and so true. Thanks for sharing

-- Rick, Union,KY

View PanamaJack's profile


4474 posts in 3624 days

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

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


17173 posts in 2735 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


4474 posts in 3624 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)

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