Last week, Chris puzzled what motivates you to show pens and requested for a few of your finest examples. Several readers share! – Editor

“I started turning kit pens about 5 years ago, and it has been a fun hobby that I’d like to get going as a profitable business after I fully retire, which I know isn’t an easy feat. Last year, I started making kit-less pens, which involves some machining and more finesse; it has become a welcomed challenge to get it right. But to answer your question about what makes it fun, it’s the people. I’ve met some talented people online and in person at pen gatherings, and I enjoy learning new things and sharing them when I can. I am retired from the Air Force and a member of a non-profit maker space in Kokomo, Indiana, called SHAK (Spirit of Haynes & Apperson in Kokomo). Fellow veteran Randy Martin and I started a ‘Pens for Vets’ outreach program at SHAK to simply give veterans an opportunity to learn something new, meet new people and hopefully share a few stories and some laughs. The program operates with support from the pen-making community and local donations alike. Some people come simply to learn something new and make their own pen; others to temporarily distract themselves from the stresses of PTSD. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to see the smiles with their completed pen in hand and hear a simple thank you. That’s what keeps it fun.” – Brian Lyles

“I especially like to turn pens for individuals who have a special connection to something in their life. It may be a firefighter pen for a retired firefighter, a football pen for a friend graduating from high school who excelled in football, a pen turned in the shape of a baseball bat for a girl graduating from high school who played softball, or a breast cancer pen for a survivor. A pen can be a small reminder of something special in their life that they can easily keep with them nearly wherever they go. I turned a pen for a friend going off to college, using a piece of a small tree growing in front of their family home, so he always had a piece of home with him. In 2020 and 2021, I turned acrylic pens that could be easily sanitized for people to use when out in public. Above is a photo of a pen and pencil set I turned that means the most to me. After my father died, I received his military bars representing the medals he earned during WW II. In memory of him, I turned a pen and pencil mimicking his bars. I cut thin discs of acrylic from a mix of hand-cast and commercial acrylic pen blanks and glued them into segmented blanks. I found information on the Internet defining the thickness for each color and adjusted them slightly to give the final length needed for the pens. In the photo, above, here are the pen and pencil and what the bars represent.” – Paul Tauscher

“Pens and pencils are just great gifts for birthdays and Christmas that are always welcomed and asked for. Every year I buy 15 of the same pen guts and, by selecting wood, acrylic, and even deer antler create 15 very uniquely different pens. I do make custom pen boxes for each one, usually from walnut or white oak scraps. Even though I prefer bowls, platters and art pieces, pens turn quickly, and you can pop a handful out in an afternoon. This past year, I was asked by a priest if I would do a set of pens in liturgical colors for the church year. Well, that turned out to be a hit, and I have just finished my thirty-sixth set of five pens in the colors of the church year. The bishop buys the sets and gives them out as ordination gifts.” – Rick Smith

“I don’t turn pens, but I LOVE turning candlesticks! They are quick to make, offer myriad opportunities for variation and sell at a premium.” – Bob Weaver

“Why do I turn pens? It is fun and easy! Although I turn a number of other things like bowls, boxes and such, turning pens is kind of relaxing, too. I get to use it also as a way to experience new types of wood species for turning without using, or possibly destroying, larger pieces of stock. Plus, a lot of the pieces of wood I use are from something meaningful. It makes them little snippets of memories. What keeps it fun? I started out using kits of all kinds. However, lately I am using just the slimline kits and changing the size, shape and diameter of the pens around the otherwise slim base. No two pens end up the same width or look, and it helps me be a bit more creative than just following the instructions. Don’t get me wrong, there are times like with the rosewood pen that working with one of the larger kits can be fun, too. Here are three examples for your review (above). The lightest wood is mango (picked up at a wood store in Hawaii on our anniversary trip in 2016) with an acrylic ring. The reddish one is cedar (from a hope chest that was beyond repair but had been in the family for generations) with an acrylic ring. The dark pen is rosewood (recovered from an old piece of furniture that was beyond repair) with one of the larger pen kits.” – John Burbank

“I was overwhelmed with several friends who wanted this ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ pen in olivewood for gifts! I need a rest, but I was glad to make their wishes a reality.” – Bill Hyde



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