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Thread: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

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    Default Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    So, here is (probably) yet another post along the lines of "how do you get into pen making?" But not exactly...

    I'm already a fairly advanced woodworker (been doing it for 25 years) and have a shop full of equipment. So I know my way around wood & tools. I've even done a bit of metalworking, too. Having recently gotten into fountain pens, it seems an obvious fit to want to make some pens.

    I have exactly zero interest, however, in making pens from the kits that I see. Rather, what I'd like to do is simply produce bodies for the pens that I already own and love, like my Pilot Metro, et al. All the instructional/how-to resources out there that I see seem to be quite focused on the opposite: construction from kits. And, also, they seem to focus on slimline click pens -- another thing in which I have precisely zero interest.

    What are some good resources I would need to get going with understanding how to make wood (or for that matter turned metal) pen bodies? Also, what are some recommendations for a relatively inexpensive (say $300 to $400) benchtop lathe?

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    Check out the International Association of Penturners website (penturners.org). In particular the Advanced Pen Making and/or Fountain Pens forums. I think any of the conversations relating to “kitless” pens will give you some of the information you are looking for. I came to the fountain pen world by way of turning kit pens - ball points, then roller balls, then fountain pens.

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    Somewhere around here I have a PDF (I think) on the subject, but blessed if I can find it. Might have been Shaun Newton's, if that narrows down a Google. Coming from much a similar situation, I've thought a similar thing, but fell at the metalworking lathe hurdle. Best of luck to you in the endeavour.

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    I picked up a used Taig Micro Lathe II with accessories. Before I got into this hobby. They are about at your price point I think?

    The Taig seems relatively popular if basic. It has accessories for metal and woodworking. Lots of people have done mods to them. I put a quick release tool post on mine which is a pretty basic 'mod'.

    I'm trying to figure out the best way to equip for threading. I'd like to be able to create a threaded section and barrel, but I guess that isn't strictly necessary to make a fountain pen.

    I've made two dip pens with it. I machined the grips and then fumbled around with making wooden tails. I don't have a tool rest hence fumbling. But they came out OK and it was great fun!

    Making contours would be harder and probably requires a CNC machine or some kind of radius jig I guess?

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    michaeldoleman (March 4th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    Quote Originally Posted by azkid View Post
    I picked up a used Taig Micro Lathe II with accessories. Before I got into this hobby. They are about at your price point I think?

    The Taig seems relatively popular if basic. It has accessories for metal and woodworking. Lots of people have done mods to them. I put a quick release tool post on mine which is a pretty basic 'mod'.

    I'm trying to figure out the best way to equip for threading. I'd like to be able to create a threaded section and barrel, but I guess that isn't strictly necessary to make a fountain pen.

    I've made two dip pens with it. I machined the grips and then fumbled around with making wooden tails. I don't have a tool rest hence fumbling. But they came out OK and it was great fun!

    Making contours would be harder and probably requires a CNC machine or some kind of radius jig I guess?
    I too have a Taig II lathe. Its size and modular components are perfect for what I needed a lathe for, procuring or modifying pen parts for my restoration.
    But I have asked the Taig dealer in Amarillo, Texas, and he said that there isn't any threading module for the lathe, other than going full blown CNC which bumps the cost to around $2500.

    If I were to make a pen from scratch, I'd go for a lathe that supports threading from the get go.
    - Will
    A place to look for restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    michaeldoleman (March 4th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    Taig lathes will not thread, and this is a big limit, not only for making pens.
    I suggest a Chinese Sieg lathe, which are sold in all countries under different brand names.
    I'm happy with it.

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    michaeldoleman (March 4th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    I've made a lot of pens on a jet mini woodworking lathe. For threading you can always use taps and dies. Shaun Newton started on a Delta mini woodworking lathe and has videos of making and threading sections on it. He uses a metal lathe now, but it shows it can be done.

    IAP referenced above is a great place to start learning. I'm thinking of getting back into it again and just ordered a tap to allow the use of Jowo #6 nib units.

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    michaeldoleman (March 4th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Getting into making: existing pens vs. kits

    I agree that is possible thread with tape and dies, but threading with lathe is much more flessibile.
    With lathe I can thread imperial (inches) or metrical. And is possible to thread non standard diameters.
    For example the collet of omas pens is quite difficult to be machined without a threading lathe.
    Consider also that price for threading lathes is not too expansive: I payed about 500 euro for my sieg branded Eihnell 3 years ago.

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