VHS Custom Pen Shootout


There’s been renewed interest in lathing, milling, and all sorts of machining at VHS, lately. Both in wood and metal! See our instagram for some great examples.

This is great! Let’s put these new found skills to the test!

I am proposing a pen contest between members. This is (in my mind) a great, relatively quick way to reinforce those skills, do some experimenting, and add a little artistic flair. It didn’t necessarily work out for me last time, but I learned a ton that I wouldn’t have figured out any other way.

This thread will serve as an interest-check, general discussion regarding the contest, and an index of other entrants’ logs.
I will be posting my own log soon in the [Projects] category, and will be updating it as I go along, instead of the huge dump I did last time.

There are no restrictions on types of pens or materials. You can use a wood pen kit from Lee Valley and one of our wood lathes, an aluminum tube with tin snips and pliers, a CNC milled aircraft-grade solid titanium billet with an ink cartridge jammed in, or anything in between.

Assuming interest, I will close this contest six months from today (July 12th, 2017). Give or take a week, depending on my schedule at the time. Judging will commence from people who have not entered, details tbd. Prizes, too! Unless someone comes up with something better, it’ll be a neat dev board or something.


[Pen Contest] Do you think I can just weld the ink cartridge in?

First prize is a Brand NEW PEN!!!



Count me in!


Sounds like fun.


i’m definitely in as well!



Yup I’m in too! Your last pen was neeeearly enough to get me motivated to make my own, but this tips the scales to something I’ll actually do. :slight_smile:


I like it, sounds like fun! I’m in.


Started this log:

Makeathon is over, it’s time to get started! :smiley:

Also pinging people that expressed interest:
@Lukeo @Gear105


Does anyone have a good source for pen parts?


Also on @jon’s recommendation, I went to the Vancouver Pen Shop a couple weeks ago.

They were nice people.


Vancouver Pen Shop’s a good place to pick up good “refills”- the inner, functional part of a ballpoint style pen that provides the ball and ink.

If you want to do a more kit based project, rather than @Jarrett’s from scratch approach, Lee Valley sells kits, intended for wood turning, but likely adaptable to other forms.

@Stevemopolis ran some great workshops at the bunker turning wooden pens with that style of kit a few years ago. I think he now runs them at makerlabs?


I haven’t run the pen making workshops at Makerlabs for about a year. At the time, MakerLabs was doing very little to market the workshops and the setup of their website made it very difficult to even find the workshops. After a few half-full and cancelled workshops I stopped doing them.

I’d like to run the workshops again however I need a venue that has at least 4 lathes to make it worth everyone’s time. I ran a few workshop (prior to the MakerLabs workshops) in my own shop using my three lathes and the VHS mini-lathe but I stopped doing them due to lack of proper insurance.


As @jon mentioned, Lee Valley has an excellent selection of pen kits and pen turning supplies. KMS Tools is also an excellent place to get pen kits, tools and supplies. KMS is bit less expensive than Lee Valley however their selection of pen kits is not nearly as extensive as LV.

The only Canadian online supplier I’m aware of is William Wood-Write in Ontario. Amazon.ca has a few pen turning tools/supplies but not much in the way of pen kits unless you purchase an expensive pen making starter kit which contains everything you need to turn some pens (except the lathe) including a few pen kits.


If anyone wants to double dip, Make is running a no-lathe pen challenge right now:


  1. Make a Pen
  1. Don’t use a lathe
  2. Email a link to your video to bill@onecarworkshop.com
  3. Get it done before February 19th, 2017.

First prize is a Rockler Excelsior lathe package worth over $700.
Second prize is a set of Tommy G Workshop carbide turning tools.
Third prize is a gift package from One Car Workshop and Surly-Ramics.
Fourth prize is a pat on the back (you cover travel to Las Vegas).

Winners of the No Lathe Pen Challenge will be selected by The Judges, all of whom are really good at making pens, or really good at making videos, or really good at making mistakes. Possibly all three.

All are welcome. Repeat: THIS CONTEST IS OPEN TO EVERYONE. No restrictions. International entries are welcome.