About Me

ian pribyl, the pen turning texan

About Ian Pribyl, the “Pen Turning Texan”


My name is Ian Pribyl, and I am the “Pen Turning Texan”. When I started turning pens in wood shop I was only 14 years old and I wasn’t remotely the “perfectionist” I am today. The challenge about making things by hand is that, as humans, it’s almost completely impossible for us to create anything that’s perfect. No matter how top-dollar your machines or how finely tuned they are, when you throw us into the equation all of that can just fly out the window. That’s the challenge that drives me every time I start on a new pen. I don’t have top-dollar machines either, so it makes turning a perfect pen that much more challenging.


A little over a year ago I committed to working in my shop as a “shokunin” which is a word in the Japanese language frequently translated into English as “Craftsman”. However, there are some differences. To sum them up, shokunin means that every time I step back into my shop to work on a pen, I try to do a little better than I did the last time. Essentially it means that I’m committed to endless, continuous improvement and taking a tiny, sometimes immeasurable step toward perfection with each pen I turn.


I’m committed to creating as much valuable, easy-to-follow information as I possibly can for new pen turners and experienced pen turners alike to have a great source of information to pull from on the internet. I’m also looking for helpful feedback from pen turners that have different approaches than I do, so please comment on any of my pages if you have feedback.


I feel like there aren’t enough pen turning sites on the web that offer really helpful content, so I started this website to give as much valuable and helpful content to this generous, appreciative community as I possibly can.


  1. Chaim

    Wow – what a great informative site. So well designed and laid out beautifully!
    Great stuff!

  2. Lynn

    I am a new turner and this is the best tutorial that I have seen. Thank you very much for your time and effort.

    • Ian

      I’m very glad that I could help, Lynn! Thanks for stopping by and checking it out – happy turning!

  3. KEN

    I am a 92 year old retiree who can’t sit still doing nothing. I am the ultimate hobbyist. For many years while working at my regular career jobs I hobbied around with such things as silver/gold smithing, graphic design, ornamental iron work, etc.etc.
    My present living situation, a senior citizen apartment complex, prohibits me from doing much with my former hobbies, so I began to look at making pens as a way to fill up my days. I will never be able to do it as a business, but with 16 grandkids and 26 great grands I will have plenty of birthdays and Christmas gifts to fill.
    Thank you for your dedication to achieving perfection. Your tutorials has really been helpful. The step by step has shown me the way and also what I will need to begin the process.

    • Ian

      Thank you very much for the long and heartfelt comment, Ken. Nothing makes a great gift like a truly labored, as-close-to-perfect-as-humanly-possible pen. I’m very happy to know that I’ve helped a fellow pen turner with some of this content. Let me know if I can ever help with anything in particular!

  4. Theo van den Berg

    Hi Ian your tutorial and step by step instructions I found very helpful I am from South Africa and am 57years old, turning pens as a hobby,is good to have as a hobby that one likes to do,(wood come alive if you know what I mean) you don’t have any tips on how to turn acrylics, thank you have a nice day.

    • Ian

      There’s not much of a trick to turning acrylics in my mind outside of keeping your chisels REALLY sharp and going slow, being careful not to apply too much pressure. I suppose I could write up a full article about it, but that’s about all it would say! Haha – thanks for stopping by, Theo! I’m glad I was able to help you a bit with these articles/lessons.

  5. Ben Pentz

    I want to congratulate you and your wife on a brilliant piece of work! It is evident that you put a lot of planning and hard work into this tutorial. The high quality photos also illustrate the entire process very well. One could almost just follow the pictures 🙂

    Towards the end you mentioned something to the effect that you provided too much detail (can’t remember the exact wording), but I think the “too much detail” is actually what sets it apart from other tutorials.

    Well done and thank you very much!

    • Ian

      Hey Ben! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such praise and positive feedback. I’m very happy to know that you found it helpful.

  6. Ruslan Nizamov

    Ian, you did a great website. I am an electrical engineer, has never heard about a pen turning process. It is pretty impressive! Your dedication and persistence make you the outstanding master. I wish you a great success in your business!

  7. Ron Ling

    This is a very in depth and helpful tutorial. I am just beginning my venture with pen turning and am enjoying. Thanks for the help with the CA application.

  8. Brad

    Wonderful tutorial!! I am very appreciative of folks like yourself that take the time to put these tutorials together. It was very helpful for a first time pen turner.

    Thank you.


  9. Richard

    Hi Ian,

    Kudos to you for a set of excellent tutorials. Very well described as well as photographed. And this from a retired professor of English as well as photo club advisor!

    I’ve only been turning pens since before Christmas, and altho’ I got good enough to give everyone a pen, your instructions on polishing convinced me to go buy a set of micro mesh sanding pads. And what a difference! My pens are climbing to a new level of… well, not quite excellence, but at least very-goodness! And your instructions on sharpening helped a lot too.

    Keep up the good work… online and on the lathe!!

    — Dick Halsey in Boise, ID.

  10. Alan

    Good information, I have not made a pen yet but have a kit and all the bits. I thought the information was good and well presented. I’ll find out later if I can followed the plan and have something decent to write with.


  11. Tom

    Thanks for the good advice and tutorial. I’ve had one hands on lesson from a friend and this will help as I’m on my own now.

  12. Bill

    I have now been turning pens for several months. I have been following your website since start up and I continue to use it as I move on to more advanced projects.

    It is the best single website that I have found. Thanks for all of your work. It has been a great learning learning experience.

    • Ian

      Thank you so much for letting me know, Bill. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found it helpful.

  13. Ian Avery

    I am just about to start making pens and I enjoyed your article and I think it will be a great help
    Thank you
    Ian Avery

  14. Darlene OBryant

    I am a 78 year old woman and a beginner so your information was very much appreciated.

  15. Debbie Komisar

    Thank you! Your insight, directions, and photos have given me the guidance and inspiration to get into my shop and continue forward. This world of pen turning is quite new to me. I am a retired teacher and a weaver and spinner. I plan to make drop spindals after I am much better at making pens All your information will assist me to achieve my goals.

  16. Pat

    Thank you for your tutorial on pen making. I appreciate your tips which separate the “ok” pens from the “great pens”.

  17. Tom Walker

    Brand new wood turner at age 75, Never to old to learn something new. Never turned in my life and as of today I have made one refrigerator pen that looks like a third grader turned it. Also one slimline and I have now graduated the 6th grade but I will not give up and will have a degree in pen turning someday.
    This is a great tutorial and you should be proud, taught a old man a thing or too. keep it up.

  18. Ryan White

    Thank you so much for putting this together! I have never turned ANYTHING, or even touched a lathe, but I feel like I have a much better handle on the process after reading this. Greatly appreciated. Now I just need to decide on a lathe… I was considering the Rockler excelsior mini, or the grizzly T25920, but I notice you don’t mention either of those. What would you recommend (since this is an older guide I wondered if you have changed your recommendations)? Thanks again!

  19. Hendrik

    Thanks man,Now I got it.

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