Christensen and Burningham, an educator and a crafts editor respectively, have perfected the art of turning finely made pens and pencils. What is more, they have also perfected the craft of written and illustrated instructions; every process is accompanied by color photographs that, alone, explain well the techniques of cutting blanks, gluing in the brass tubes, and sanding, among other steps. Beginning with a good historical survey of writing implements, they first tackle equipment and basic pens and pencils, then cover style, methodology, and material variations. Some of the more unusual inclusions are pens of antler or checkered polymer clay, and instruments embellished by inlay and wood burning. The last chapter offers selling tips, including packaging.
This book is head and shoulders about anything else out there on pen turning. After reading the Sing and Cripps primers I ordered this. There is no question that this book should be the one you read. It is well organized, clearly written and gives multiple ways to perform each step in the pen making progress.
It starts with an historical discussion which may or may not suit your tastes, but then goes into very good detail about the equipment, supplies, wood selection, kit types, finishing products, glues etc that are available and what is required/suggested based on your needs.
Next it goes through the making of a basic pen in good detail with the minimalist type supplies etc. Each subsequent section details a new type of pen, but also adds different ways to do each of the basic procedures and details different equipment that can be used. Through this process, the reader gets a good understanding of what is out there and how to use it. There is then a section on alternate materials and how they differ in the treatment required to use them. Then a section on decorating and variation in styles. This is followed by a tips and tricks section, which will help solve some of the common problems, as well as, provide tricks to improve quality and speed. Finally there is a very good gallery with a multitude of styles from multiple contributors.
If you can only buy one book, it would be foolish to go with any other. You will find yourself refering back to it often and will save yourself a lot of money and headaches through the advise the authors give.
Review by David L. Pugh
Dick Sing is supposedly the guru of pen and pencil turners. He has written several widely read books on the subject. Until recently, Sing's only competition was author Mike Cripps. But all of Sing and Cripps books pale in comparison to Christensen and Burningham's "Turning Pens and Pencils". This book is so good that it's hard to begin describing its numerous attributes. It's an excellent book for the beginning wood turner and pen maker. But it goes way beyond anything that Sing or Cripps provide. Christensen and Burningham are creative designers and it shows in their pen making. The book is packed with useful suggestions on everything from cutting and boring pen blanks to pen assembly. These guys are pros with years of experience, and it shows. I was stunned by their creative ideas such as the use of polymer clay in lieu of wood. The quality of their pens is simply awesome. It would be impossible for me to commend this book too strongly. If you like to turn wood and you're interested in pen and pencil making, you owe it to yourself to get this book. You'll be glad you did.