I've always been a do-it-yourselfer my whole life - usually b/c I was poor and had to do things myself. Auto mechanics, plumbing, electrical, and so on. Some jobs were more difficult because I didn't have the right tools, but since I've been making pens I've been able to afford some of the different tools to do this or that, and things have been nice.
Then... then a customer asks me to engrave on her pen. And I do. And the response has been huge. At least to me. It's opened a whole new door with my pens and I'm very excited about it. But the tools are EXPENSIVE. Now, pen making has allowed me to afford more tools than I ever thought I'd own, but I haven't spent this much on anything besides the lathe that I use now. So I didn't really put a ton of thought into getting any of the air gravers or anything, and have only looked at the hand push gravers a little bit. The aluminum handles on some of the ones I've seen have really put me off. Maybe I'd like them - I dunno. I haven't looked too terribly hard either though.
But - this morning I woke up and just said shoot, let's make one before school. So while the boys were eating cereal I was in the shop with a piece of steel rod from a hot dog skewer grinding away at it (camping section at walmart). I put a nice looking point on it and then had to put it down. This afternoon I played with it a bit and WOW what a difference. Now I know why the tool tips are shaped the way they are. Here are pics of my old burins and the new tool I just made up.
All I have to do now is turn a handle for it on the lathe and I'll be off to the races!
So glad I found this place. All the reading about grinding your own tools has pushed me to make my own - and with good results. I couldn't be happier.