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A beginner’s guide to pen making – part 2

Pen turning tools

Like I mentioned in the overview, there are many tools for pen turners. Some are optional, but useful, others are needed. let’s start with the basic tools first. Obviously I’ll assume you are using a lathe as this is a tutorial series for beginning pen turners. Any lathe will do and if you aren’t sure what to get I suggest starting with a mini (second hand) lathe. once you know what type of projects you enjoy making, you can upgrade it. this is true for several other tools and equipment as well. you’ll see in the pictures that I’ve started with a cheap set of turning tools and upgraded the ones I used most often. The same goes for the safety equipment, you can start with a full face mask and a throw away dust mask. But do start with a full face shield! Safety glasses are not enough!

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A beginner’s guide to pen making – part 1

Overview on making a basic pen

In the first part of this series I’ll show you all the steps involved into making a basic slimline pen. I’m using this as the kits are the easiest to find and make. The parts you have to make are identical so this keeps it nice and simple. Some other pens have different tube sizes or lengths or might require a different radius between the start of the tube and end.

Please inform yourself on how your power tools work or seek out instruction on the basics of wood turning. Accidents do happen and you are responsible for your own safety.

A slimline pen kit (and many others) consist of the following parts:

Slimline pen kit diagram
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Turning nesting dolls (Matryoshka dolls)


Find and prepare a template you like. Print and cut out a template of each doll so it has a quarter of the final shape. The easiest way is to cut out the individual dolls from the full template and glue them to some cardboard. Then cut out half of each doll, so you end up with negative template you can hold to your work piece.


In case you are planning on carving, the dolls after turning you might want to scale each doll (template) a bit. That will give you more wall thickness so there is material to carve.

Refer to images 1 and 2 for examples of the nesting doll templates. I found this image via a quick google search, but you can easily make your own shapes and templates.