Turning wood is one of the most rewarding skills a person can learn. It is fun, it can be profitable, it provides a wonderful outlet for one’s creativity, it yields unique gifts which may be treasured for generations and it has nothing to do with politics!

Sooner or later someone you know will want to see you in action and may express an interest in learning to turn wood. It could be a neighbor, or spouse, a child or grandchild, a friend or acquaintance from work. If you decide you would like to show them the ropes, I would like to suggest using the layered instruction method. Understanding the person you are interacting with and relating to them on their level will go a long way toward increasing your effectiveness. Cover the basics and use words any non-turner can understand and go slowly. It won’t seem slow to your student. If your student has never turned before or it has been 40 years back when they were in high school, understand that they are an empty vessel (yes, pun intended).

Let’s use a standard traditional slimline wooden pen kit and curly maple as an example since it is a wonderful item for brand new turners to begin with.

Raw Blanks
It is better to have blanks already drilled with the brass tubes already glued in and dry. First time out don’t explain much.
Pen Mill
Mill the ends of the blanks with very limited conversation such as “This squares up the ends and removes the glue.” Keep it simple.
Getting ready to turn the wooden parts
Install the bushings and the wooden blanks with very limited conversation such as “These (bushings) help me turn the pen to the final size; they are my guides.” By keeping it simple, you keep them interested.
Turning the wooden pen parts
Use the simplest lathe tool you can. Typically that is going to be a round tipped carbide tool. Go for a simple shape and take your time. Use as few lathe chisels as possible; preferably one!
Sanding the pen
Use about three grits of sand paper and sand with the grain on the last one. Stop at 320 grit.
Finishing the pen
Use simple friction finish. If it seems simple, they won’t lose interest. You won’t scare them off.
Assemble the pen
Assemble the pen as free of drama as possible. Also as quietly as possible; in other words, be quite and assemble the pen. Letting them watch you is enough for now.

When the pen is finished and assembled I guarantee it will be the best pen they have ever seen turned. Your student’s interest should be intense by this time. You just gave them the first layer. There will be time later to go deeper into the process and to discuss the fine points of pen making.

Most things in life are exactly like this. There is a time when deep study will be understood and appreciated if you are patient. Recognizing which layer is appropriate in a particular situation will make you a much more successful teacher. If your student is someone close to you, there aren’t a lot of second chances, because wherever you go, there you are.

Here is my inspiration for this message.

Psalm 119:130 (The Message Bible)
Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning.

Prov 24:32 (KJV)
Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.

This Week's Sale

50% off Regular Retail Price


The best way I know to liquidate end of show season inventory is to offer it to you at fantastic savings. Quantities are limited and this sale only applies to certain specific items.

Quantities Limited! First Come First Served

Single DVD's Buy One Get One Free


Excludes Collections and double DVD Title Offers

All Laser Cut Kits Buy One Get One Free

Laser Cut Kits

Made-By-Medallions Buy One Full Sheet Get One Full Sheet Free




Gluing Guides for Laser Cut Kits. Makes glue up a snap! Buy One Set Get One Set Free

Gluing Guide

Riser Rings to go with all Longworth Chucks

Riser Rings

Please order One of what you want. I will review the order and include the second. If you need to specify your free choice(s) (DVD's, Laser Cut Kits & Medallions) Please use the notes section in the order, or just drop me an email with your invoice number.


A Few Still Left

Amazing Flat Compass $10 ea.

I have a limited supply of these handy items. I am discontinuing them for now. This is a close out price.

More info HERE


In case you didn't already know, I have posted tons of "Free Download" stuff on my web site.

"Free Downloads HERE"

Including Bottle Stopper Designs - 50 Plus classic designs. Free PDF