What do you do with all the pens?

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Forum topic by spclPatrolGroup posted 08-03-2010 05:17 PM 1555 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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233 posts in 2315 days

08-03-2010 05:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe turning

I see there are quite a few people out there turning pens, if you look at some profiles they must have hundreds of them. What do you do with all those pens? Do you sell them on ebay, give them as gifts, horde them to yourself and roll around in them at night? If you sell them do you make any money on them, or is it more of a sell them to break even and buy more blanks type thing? My great uncle is quite good at turning bowls, some of them are amazing, and pretty much everyone I visit who knows him, has a few on display, which is good.

18 replies so far

View Mark Miller's profile

Mark Miller

58 posts in 2585 days

#1 posted 08-03-2010 05:36 PM

Hi Dave I would have to say in my case yes to selling but not on ebay, and yes to gifts and absolutely yes to hoarding them Ha Ha! I guess if some women have 30 prs. of shoes then some men should have 30 pens ok seriously I do like making them and I like to have my own stash. As far as selling and making money if you go to crafts shows and sell the you can make some money But I still have my day job the pens have to be unique if you look at my site on her or my website you will see some.

Cheers Mark


View Vern Little's profile

Vern Little

103 posts in 2958 days

#2 posted 08-03-2010 05:44 PM

Dave, I have sold several pens. It was just by word of mouth, to people at work & such. After all the inventory I still have lying around. It is maybe, a break even deal for me.
I might have made some money if I didn’t need 10 of everything (just to have them). On the up side I did make enough one Christmas to buy myself a new lathe. I made the bulk of the pens on a cheap ole Chinese lathe I found on Amazon. (You don’t know what quality is until you own a piece of junk). It only had a screw on the head end instead of a MT. I just put my chuck on it and held the pen mandrel with the chuck.
I have seen several web pages with pens selling upwards of $200.00.
I prefer to keep my woodworking fun. I already have a job, don’t need 2 of them.


-- Earth first, we'll drill the rest of the planets later. Vern

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233 posts in 2315 days

#3 posted 08-03-2010 06:07 PM

Where I live it gets very hot in the summer and very very cold in the winter, there are about 4 prime months to be out in the garage, where my shop is, other than that it is hit or miss depending on the weather, hot isn’t bad since i can open the windows and run some fans, but when its -40 out no heater is going to make the shop warm enough that your hands don’t freeze on the tools (or not cost an arm and a leg to heat since when you open the garage door all your heat is gone), I was thinking that maybe pen turning could be something I could do indoors in the basement, I have never turned anything in my life except a few items in metal shop when I was in high school. I have never “sold” anything over the cost of materials to friends and family, but if I did a lot of pen turning then it would be nice to have some kind of outlet if no more than to break even.

View Clipper50's profile


59 posts in 2276 days

#4 posted 08-03-2010 06:44 PM

I keep making them whenever I come across some interesting wood and I generally give them away. Everyone loses a pen!

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2347 days

#5 posted 08-03-2010 07:15 PM

I met a man in a tool shop in Edmonton last week who was buying pen kits, I asked him if he sells pens, he said he does locally and has about 75 on hand, which is low for his stock.

I would have liked to ask him some more questions, but we were both there for other business.

I give mine away, do it for fun and don’t think anyone would pay much for my “experiments”...

Dave, have you looked into a radiant heater for your shop? That’s what I use and it heats the tools and lumber, and yet the air is still a little fresh when it’s -40 here.

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3426 days

#6 posted 08-03-2010 07:20 PM

You could put chains on em and sell em to banks :)

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 2485 days

#7 posted 08-03-2010 07:39 PM

I make them and sell them. I just sold 200.00 the other day, I’m also going to do a couple of craft shows also. Then hopefully it will get my name out there where I live at. I’m also thinking about putting a add in the local paper, as a early craft sale for Xmas.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Mark Miller's profile

Mark Miller

58 posts in 2585 days

#8 posted 08-03-2010 08:49 PM

I did a craft show last now and I sold $600.00 mostly pens and a couple of small bowls with all the cost of the show not counting my time I “Made ” 400.00 it was my first and I did learn a lot about putting a show.


View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2495 days

#9 posted 08-03-2010 09:37 PM

I’ve sold some (not on ebay) and I have given some as gifts.

Here’s my problem – - I’m fussy and I will not sell or give away a pen unless I think it is dang near perfect. Sometimes I make a pen that does not meet my standards. I’m sure I have at least 20 that just set in a pile of second rate pens.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Mark Miller's profile

Mark Miller

58 posts in 2585 days

#10 posted 08-03-2010 09:42 PM

Hi Rich I am like you I have some just sitting there. I don’t sell seconds or give them away.


View learnin2do's profile


889 posts in 2272 days

#11 posted 08-11-2010 05:53 PM

I sold my first work yesterday! It felt really good. -but i always complain that there is not enough time to make beyond friends & family too and it is always comfortable in the garage or driveway here (well, not really this month, but not dangerous if you stay hydrated) -i’m not sure i could do negatives!

-- ~christine @ used2btrees

View rep's profile


95 posts in 2530 days

#12 posted 08-11-2010 09:25 PM

Before I started turning pens, I thought wooden pens were WAY COOL. Now, they are OK, but they are not nearly as impressive to me.
I have given away a good many pens, donated pens, but never sold one. I can’t see where I would ever expect to sell a pen for more than $20 or so (over the kit cost). I have no problem with those who market and sell pens for big bucks, but it is just not me.
I have about a dozen now, and may give some of them away, but like others have said, I am hesitant to gift a second rate pen – even though they may not notice.
I have not turned any pens lately – maybe time to run a batch or two.

First I gotta figure out what to do with all these turned bowls I have laying around…

-- rick

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Mark Miller

58 posts in 2585 days

#13 posted 08-12-2010 03:10 PM

Congratulations Christine!!


View Carrick_Bend's profile


30 posts in 2271 days

#14 posted 08-15-2010 05:08 AM

I have been turning pens for about three years. I have given many away, but I have only sold one so far. Not that I haven’t had folks at work offer to purchase them. My dilema comes in funding a suitable price for the work, the cost, and the beauty of these items.

I am currently in the military and plan to make this a business when I retire in about six years. So, I believe I have plenty of time to figure that out. I’m also working on shadowboxes and coin displays. Pens seem to be a high interest item, but like you said many people are doing them. I wonder if the market is, or soon will be, over saturated. It maybe the unique one of a kind woods that keep it going well.

-- Patrick, Virginia

View WIwoodworker's profile


65 posts in 3119 days

#15 posted 08-15-2010 02:56 PM

I make them as gifts and also use them when meeting woodworking clients. They’re great conversation pieces. I have multiple customers who make pens to sell. It’s not the only item they make but they always seem to sell some whenever they display their work at art shows and craft fairs.

-- Allen, Milwaukee, WI

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