Pen Kit Comparisons

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Forum topic by itsme_timd posted 03-04-2008 05:29 AM 32019 views 18 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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690 posts in 3853 days

03-04-2008 05:29 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Does anyone have any feedback as to one company offering a generally higher quality pen kit than another?

I’ve purchase from half a dozen places or so and hadn’t thought much of it but noticed recently on a kit I purchased that the gold didn’t seem as high quality, I looked through all my kits again and found a few that I wasn’t that impressed with.

Price didn’t seem to matter much. I had some less expensive kits that seemed to be better quality than more expensive kits.

Any feedback is appreciated!

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

27 replies so far

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4349 days

#1 posted 03-04-2008 06:05 AM

I like the platinum and rhodium ones from woodcraft – they’ve had the best write-ups as far as I can tell. I tend to ignore the non-descript gold ones (which is a shame because there are some great kits/designs out there…) but, pens get used pretty hard – oils from our fingers, dropped…, and I don’t want to make ones that are going to start flaking apart in months or a few years for the sake of a couple bucks.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View runngt's profile


120 posts in 3761 days

#2 posted 03-04-2008 03:52 PM

I bought my first pen kits from woodcraft as well and was pleased with them until I picked some up at rockler a few week later. The kit from rockler were cheaper in price but the ink cartrage was so much better and smoother to write with. I have found this site ( that seem to have great prices but have yet to buy any since I am trying to work on other projects for a while. Those pens are too addictive once you get started! As far as finish I stay away from the gold as I found it only works best with cetrain woods but the platinum and crome seem to go with most woods really well.

I did find that storing my kits in the same box as my glue was not a good idea after we had a small glue lid accident. The kits in the box looked like grissom from CSI was finger printing me !

-- It seem's I just make scrap wood and saw dust most of the time !

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902 posts in 4073 days

#3 posted 03-04-2008 04:18 PM

Try craft supplies USA and Arizonia Silhouette. Both are on the web (just google the name).

-- Hope Never fails

View jimp's profile


208 posts in 3783 days

#4 posted 03-04-2008 05:54 PM

So far, I have used kits from Rockler, Woodcraft, and Craft Supplies USA. I like the kits from Craft Supplies USA the best. I think their quality is a little better and they have a large selection of pen kits.

-- - Jim, Carroll, OH

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4088 days

#5 posted 03-04-2008 06:55 PM

Back in the days when I was turning pens like a madman I used to buy all of my kits from Berea Hardwoods. These are the guys that import most of the pen kits sold here by Woodcraft, Rockler, etc. Berea has it’s own factory in China and they manufacture the pen kits. At least that is the way it was about 10 years ago.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 3826 days

#6 posted 03-04-2008 09:31 PM

I turn a lot of pens and the best kits that I find are at Berea Hardwoods. They will give you a volume discount and stand behind anything that is not right. Their high end platinum and rhodium kits are expensive but worth the cost. Woodcraft and Craft Supplies are also good. The quality of the kits from Penn State is not consistent.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View northwoodsman's profile


242 posts in 3768 days

#7 posted 03-04-2008 10:19 PM

I have tried Rockler, Woodcraft, and Craft Supplies USA. My local Rockler just doesn’t seem to have inventory of pen supplies and parts. I have never been able to change a pen style and pick up the bushings, bits, blanks, and kits at the same time. They have everything else (and then some). The local Woodcraft on the other hand has a huge inventory of all of these components unless it’s a new kit or one that’s on sale. They go quick. They are on the expensive side, but the service is often worth the price. Woodcraft offers a nice kit (Wallstreet II and III) for around $15-$16 that is a one piece barrel. My 12 and 13 year old boys like to turn this one because it is almost foolproof.

You can’t beat Craft Supplies USA for selection and quality ( The higher end kits (Stateman & Jr. Statesmen, Gentleman & Jr. Gentleman, Emporer, Imperial) run $15-$30 (even limited editions for $150). These kits are absolutely the best! These are all that I buy. I don’t sell my pens for a profit, but donate them for charity auctions, give them as gifts, etc. I have turned them for co-workers when they hit a milestone, for some of our executive team members (helps around performance review time), and for important clients (I’m in sales). Depending on the blank, the style, and the finish, I see these finished pens on the internet for $75 – $350 and higher. The writing performance, balance and attention to detail is magnificent. They are heavy for their size which makes them feel elegant. CAUTION: Once you turn a Statesman or Jr. Statesman you will be hooked for life. Once you try these, it’s hard to go back to the others.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Nils's profile


141 posts in 3886 days

#8 posted 03-05-2008 03:40 AM

I have tried a few of the Woodcraft pens (Classic American ballpoint, pencil, rollerball, and fountain pen; slimline pen) and some Woodturningz Euro style and cigar pens. The Woodcraft pencil has been a failure – the lead delivery mechanism has never worked (I’m going to chalk that one up to a bad unit for now) – but all the others have been satisfactory or better. I find the cigar pens are just too large for my taste. My wife thought the Euro pen was too large, so I made her the one slimline I’ve made.

My daily writer varies from a Woodturningz Euro pen (with copper fittings, done in acrylic – came out nice) to a zebrawood Woodcraft Classic American ballpoint with a rollerball refill (my first pen) to a cedar Classic American fountain pen. (Pics of the latter two are in my projects.)

My feeling on all the pen kit vendors is that they offer pretty much the same styles, even if the quality is different. There are basically six or seven styles – slimline, euro/montblanc, cigar, classic american/parker, wall street, comfort, and some novelty ones. I’d really like to see some other styles. For example, there’s a store in Berkeley that sells beautiful celluloid (I’m guessing) pens that have threaded caps. The celluloid itself is threaded, and the pen cap fits on the back of the pen with a friction fit when writing. (Something like one of these Stipula pens.) I’ve been thinking of trying to design my own pens, based on this idea and working from existing kits, where I thread the wood or acrylic. I have no idea at this point if it’s possible, but it would be fun to try.

-- Nils Davis, Menlo Park, CA

View itsme_timd's profile


690 posts in 3853 days

#9 posted 03-05-2008 07:24 AM

Thanks everyone. I’ve looked at CSU’s kits but haven’t ordered from them, I just took a look at Berea Hardwoods and it seems they have some really nice kits.

-- Tim D. - Woodstock, GA

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4088 days

#10 posted 03-05-2008 11:07 AM

You really owe it to yourself to give Berea a try – their kits are among the best, and the prices aren’t bad for the regular kits.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4348 days

#11 posted 03-05-2008 02:32 PM

northwoodsman said just about word for word what I was going to reply with!

I recently ordered some of the Jr Gentlemans II fountain and rollerball pens from Craft Supplies USA and love them. They aren’t something I would put in the cheap category (price wise) but they do seem worth every penny. They also state that these kits are guaranteed for life. I used the Titanium, Black Titanium and would like to try the Rhodium next.

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3810 days

#12 posted 03-08-2008 04:35 AM

I have tried just about all the manufacturers and I think Craft Supplies has given me the best results. One word of warning though is that you will find slight differences on the same style from one manufacturer to another and you may have to buy a new set of bearings when you switch to a different manufacturer.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 4054 days

#13 posted 03-08-2008 06:05 AM

My vote is for Craft Supplies too, I love the Father Sing style. I’ve used most of the kits and think theirs is the best and they have some high end kits for special needs as well.

As to wood and supplies I think Arizona Silhouette can’t be beat and they carry the Berra kits mentioned above.

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4110 days

#14 posted 03-08-2008 06:14 AM buys its supplies from PSI and sells for a LOT less than does Penn State.

For example PSI sells its slimline pen for $2.75, Woodturningz sells the same pen for $1.70.
Plus they have bi-weekly sales and good quantity discounts.


-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View bloggstein's profile


11 posts in 3776 days

#15 posted 03-08-2008 06:20 AM

Just echoing opinions already stated. I buy almost everything at either CraftSuppliesUSA or Berea (via or

If you’re looking for alternative platings, Beartoothwoods generally seems to have a few unique or at least uncommon combinations. CSUSA probably has the widest selection of non-pen/pencil kits if you’re interested in doing other projects. ArizonaSilhouette has some of the nicest pen blanks I’ve ever seen. Otherwise, all three give some of the best customer service I’ve ever received, are all very competitively priced, have quick shipping, and sell the highest quality kits I’ve worked with.

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