I completed another 4 pens earlier this week (I’m on vacation this week).Lessons learned:
- Always sand your edges: I now give the edges of my turned segments a little touch-up with 600+ grit sandpaper (wet) after they come off of the mandrel to soften them before assembly. Having a sharp edge where the turned portion transitions to the kit piece doesn’t feel nice at all.
- Working late to “finish 1 more” isn’t a good idea: Knowing that its late means that I’m more inclined to rush, take shortcuts, call something “close enough”, or just miss details. The result isn’t the best quality.
- Tried the Sorby Spindlemaster: I had been working almost exclusively with the spindle gouge and waiting until I was comfortable enough to try the skew chisel again. Quite a few people seemed to like the spindlemaster so I thought I’d give it a try. WOW! After using it on just a couple of pens I can say that I really like that tool! It doesn’t have any “bad habits”. The finish that can be achieved is amazing (sanding optional). The level of precision and control is very reassuring as well. I’m actually able to feel the transition between the blank and the bushing as well as having enough control to ride on the bushing or choosing to shave off CA built up on the bushing (with or without taking the paint under the CA). Its not inexpensive, but its my new favorite tool.
- First try turning acrylic: I tried one of the funline acrylic blanks. The initial roughing wasn’t fun (need very slow, small cuts), but once the blank was trued it really turned like butter. Since there isn’t any alternating grain as it turns, the feel is very smooth during the cut. Its easy to cut small consistent ribbons but the ribbons tend to wrap around the blanks/mandrel and need to be cleaned off periodically. The smell wasn’t pleasant, but the outcome was fantastic nice with just some basic sanding and plastic polish (no other finish applied). I’m looking forward to doing more with the acrylic blanks including doing my own castings!
I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the basics of pen making now and getting ready to try some embellishments and castings. I’m also thinking about trying some other simple turned projects (small dish, tops, etc) and taking a first swing at some small turned boxes. Really loving the turning!
-- "Keep thy airspeed up, lest the earth come from below and smite thee." - William Kershner