Info on pen turning?

I've done quite a bit of small carpentry type projects and always been interested in woodworking. I've always been interested in building furniture and using better woods than pine. However up till now never had the chance to either build a furniture piece or to use better woods. I have a Shopsmith and recently I've purchased some other tools (miter saw, biscuit joiner, nice router and table) in anticipation of attempting something. Just recently while getting acquainted with woodworking newsgroups I encountered a picture of a pen that someone had done. I'd never even thought about this before and I was actually thinking thats kind of a neat idea, I wonder how they thought of it? Then just yesterday I went into a hardware store that I had not been in before and there is a section of pen turning blanks, a book on pen turning, some pen hardware of various types and some other assorted stuff. Wow, the light comes on!
This looks really interesting to me as a small projects way of working with wood when I don't feel like taking on something big. I was hoping that someone might like to make some comments about doing pen turning as well as just going over some basics about how to get started, anything special that would be needed beyond what I might have now and such. I see there are several types of pen hardware and I could use some info on how the different types work and what to look for if I gave these as gifts to people. What types of pen hardware can be used that will be easy for them to find refills for and which ones do I avoid. Stuff like that. Also I've always wanted to try using the lathe for something and this will be my first thing. Can a full size lathe like the Shopsmith be used for this and do you also use the full size lathe chisels or does this require something special?
I hope this gives enough background to let you understand that I think I can do this and have the equipment but just need a little advice and nudges to get started. I've searched amazon.com and found dozens and dozens of books, any that are highly recommended at this point for someone like me?
I'm thinking about producing some that would basically be just straight barrels and then working up to those with various shapes. Good plan?
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I've just started turning pens (2 months+/-) and really enjoy it. Rather than try to explain how here are a few of the sites I marked for myself and go to a lot.
http://www.pennstateind.com/ everything you need for pens - get the free dvd to see how to turn a pen.
http://www.touchofwood.com/generic15.html another example of how to turn a pen.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/penturners /
http://www.penturners.org/forum/portal.asp
good luck and enjoy
Tom
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Warren,
Penn State Industries just outside of Philadelphia has a complete line of kits, parts, and pen making supplies.
http://www.pennstateindustries.com /
Go to their web site and browse around. There is a LOT of info there, then have them send their catalog to you.
Joe
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Beware. Pen turning can consume you. It can lead you into all sorts of other stuff and can become very expensive if you let it. <DAMHIKT>
I have been turning pens for about 18 months. Had to learn how to sharpen tools. Learned a lot about drilling materials. Learned a lot about different glues. Spent a lot of time experimenting with different finishes / techniques. Ventured into turning exotic woods, plastic, acrylic, corian, antler, horn, corn cobs, aluminum and so on. There is a lot of information on the internet about turning pens. Some of it is even inspirational.
Most pens will typically use Cross or Parker refills (depending on the type of pen you choose).
Some places you may want to check out include:
    http://www.penturners.org/forum/portal.asp
    http://www.penmakersguild.com /
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/penturners /
Good luck in your new adventure.
Tom Arlington, TX
--
Measure twice, cut once... if it is too
short, consider design modification...
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