Where is the real money in wooden pen making?

31Mar07

   For anyone thinking about making wooden pens for the first time, please don’t let this change your mind. Making wooden pens is an artistic endeavor that is not only therapeutic, but actually borders on fun.

  What I am saying is don’t quit your day job. For every person selling a fair number of high end pens in the hundred dollar and up range, there are probably thousands of people making pens.

We have become a  throw away society, where true craftsmanship has no value. Sure there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, consumers have gotten used to ridiculously cheap imported goods.

  Couple that with the fact that no one writes anymore, and finding an easy customer for that pen you just took off of the lathe, is an uphill battle.

Here is how it goes. You read everything you can get your hands on. You’re sure you can do this with a little practice. You pore over the catalogs nearly breaking into a sweat with anticipation.

You finally think you have it figured out. You plunk down your hard earned dough on a mini lathe, and all of the stuff that was suggested in that how to get started article. If you bought it locally, you rush home. You can’t wait to get started.

 If you bought your outfit on line, you sit on your front steps like a kid on Christmas Eve. Jumping at the sound of every truck that ventures into the neighborhood. Finally it arrives, and you get to show off your talents.

  You stumble your way through with a fair amount of trial and error. You keep thinking  “So that’s what they meant? Why the f@%k didn’t they just say so?”  Then it happens. This chunk of wood is actually beginning to look like a pen. You need to call someone. Surely such an historic event should not go unwitnessed.

 You polish that baby up. Swear a few more times while trying to figure out how to press in all of those metal parts. And then it’s done. You hold it up to the light. Stare at it in awe. You have arrived!

You are so sure that your only problem now, is how I am going to make enough of these to keep up with the orders that are sure to come flooding in; once the word gets out that a new Master Craftsman has arrived on the scene.

You load up on wood. You buy kits in bulk. You hone your craft. You take on the world. But the world only says “You want how much? I steal these plastic ones at work for nothing.”

It seem sad that a world that will pay a mechanic ninety dollars an hour to perform questionable repairs on their car would begrudge you a few dollars for the passion and skill that went into making a true piece of art.

Don’t give up. Your pens will make great gifts, and with determination you can sell your share.

So now back to the original question.  Where is the real money in wooden pen making? Sum up all of the cash that you laid out for books equipment and materials. I think the question just answered itself.

Now, my only question is, how do I get in on it?

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2 Responses to “Where is the real money in wooden pen making?”

  1. I agree it is difficult to make money in woodworking. I have tried and had a little success, mostly tables and beds. I continue to make things when I have time and sell occasionally. Mostly I make for the enjoyment and here I think is the problem for the person who wants to make money at his craft. (You are right that people do not appreciate craftsmanship) Some people make to sell and then find the market is full or not willing to bear the price he needs. When this happens he is tempted to sell under his needed cost and when he (enough others too) does the market is full. I have seen this over and over at craft malls and flea markets.
    That’s why I think it’s tough to break in. For years you have to sell at a low barely profitable (or not). I’ve read of a chair maker who made chairs for minimum wage for years until he made a name for himself.
    I don’t mean to be negative, I make for the shear joy of completing the project. As I’m sure you do. I keep the line “I can make money off my craft” for when I need to justify a tool, 1000’s of board feet of wood, or a book purchase.

  2. 2 Macbre

    Well, the wife did get a chuckle out of that… its soooo true, i am waiting for the new lathe to get here and the rest… just descibed me perfectly.
    M


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