Penmaking articles Penmaking Tips
'Turning' A Profit

Can This Hobby Make A Profit?

by Scott & Kathy Griffith, premiere turning artisans
Reprinted by permission from Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine

A gallery of work produced on the mini lathe: (front row, left to right) two cigar pens, two perfume atomizers, two perfume applicators, (middle row, left to right) four secret compartment key rings, four screwdriver key rings, two El Grande pens, (third row, left to right) seven Polaris pens, ten bottle stoppers, seven more Polaris pens, (back row, left to right) an assortment of comfort pens and an assortment of letter openers.

Scott and Kathy Griffith have been married for twenty-six years. They live in Southern Lancaster County, PA, amidst beautiful farmlands, Amish neighbors, and a feeling of community reminiscent of their childhoods.

They have worked with wood in some manner for most of their lives. However, since 1984 the focus of their work has been wood carving and turning. Their love for this hobby has deepened their appreciation for the surrounding world and has led them to try to spread the joy. One aspect of this is the benefits gained by children and adults who share the hobby. What a great way to spend time together and to learn through workmanship and shared creativity.

Scott and Kathy’s work can be seen at many fine arts and craft and wood carving shows, and through the fair season at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire among the artisans in Swashbucklers Grove!

This article is the first in an ongoing series focusing on the many uses and applications of the mini lathe. Scott and Kathy have been kind enough to share with us their many “tricks of the trade” when it comes to getting involved in and making a profit through this fascinating, up-and-coming school of turning. As you will see, not only are the Griffiths prolific designers, they are also incredibly organized!

In addition to this introductory article, future issues will provide step-by-step instructions for Polaris pens, comfort pens, bottle stoppers, key rings, kaleidoscopes and much more. There will also be tips on safety, wood selection and other pertinent subjects throughout.

Getting started
You better believe the mini lathe can make you a profit! For a modest investment of approximately $600.00 (depending on the tools chosen), you can be making unique gift items over a weekend. As you become more familiar with the tools and woods, there will be a marked improvement in the quality of your completed projects as well as the amount of time required for each item.

Future articles will include step-by-step turning projects and tips on safety issues, machine and tool maintenance, various woods and other materials to turn, as well as a few creative options. This article offers an overview of the turning and marketing process. There is a lot of information, but don’t let it overwhelm you.

Our primary lathe is a Carba-tec variable speed mini-lathe. There are several types of mini and midi lathes on the market, so take the time to compare prices and features (see Fig. 1).

Variable speed is important to us since it allows us to rough out at low speed, smooth and contour at mid speed, and finish at high speed. When comparing lathes, keep track of warranty, overall weight and portability, length between centers, size of the motor, and the maximum diameter of turning material.

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