I am a day late posting this. I got down in my back yesterday evening. Rain was coming in this morning. Changes in weather effect my back greatly. Anyway, I’ll be typing this up as if it was last night.
I jumped right into the fray of things today with preparing multiple blanks before doing anything else. I wanted to turn today without having to stop, cut, drill, and wait for glue to set.
The first pen of today, I made one of the wood blanks longer by the length of the width of the center ring. Does that make sense? Anyway, I done so in an attempt to eliminate the center ring because, you may remember me saying, one of my kits was missing that ring.
I glued the tube in all the way to one end on the longer blank. The twist mechanism in the writing end of the pen sticks out plenty enough to still seat into the longer blank with the space left without the tube. If you think about if, of course it will. It is only going the same distance to get to the tube as if you had a center ring on it anyway. So it works out the same.
This pen is walnut. It was made from a piece from my scrap ben. That, by the way is the one problem I see with turning pens. I was already a wood hoarder. Now I see even the scrap pieces as potential projects.
I almost messed this pen up. While the glue was setting on the blanks, I used a scrap piece of wood and practiced more trying to perfect the CA glue finish technique. It turned out wonderfully on the scrap wood. So I tried it on this walnut. It turned out looking like crap. I don’t know what went wrong. I have been told now that I need water thin glue for the finish. I only have locally bought Super Glue (brand name) at the moment. So for now, I’ll stick with my shellac based finish until I can get some thinner glue to try again.
Anyway, I took a long coffee break while waiting for that glue to fully cure so I could sand it back off the walnut. That stuff does not like to be sanded off. However, I was happy with this pen and did not want to lose the blanks or the tubes. I think it turned out extremely nice though without the center ring.
My next pen, and now my new favorite wood, is cocobolo. This wood was from the free blanks that was sent with my pen kit order. The blanks looked beautiful in their own right. When turned though, it looks different, and completely amazing. This wood has presented me with a new issue. Now I want to try any wood I can get my hands on. If and when I can sell some of my pens, I definately want to try a few new (to me) exotic blanks from time to time.
I have seen some beautiful wood before, but this just took my breath away. No, not literally. I had done some reading up on it already, but in case anyone else hasn’t, use respiratory protection when turning or working with cocobolo.
You may also notice that I like the walnut pen so much without the center ring that I also turned this one without it.
I still have nine more cocobolo blanks. I can’t wait to see what beautiful grain each of them presents.
Then my first mistake for the day. This was, I repeat WAS, birdseye maple. I stopped as I was getting near the end of the turning and grabbed my newly sharpened detail gouge. This was a mistake. I learned an important lesson. If you sharpen your tool, start using it before being almost finished. That way, you get a feel for the cut before getting too close to the tube.
With the tool being so sharp, and my not having that feel for the newly sharpened tool just yet, I sliced off too quickly, got a tad too close to the tube insert on the end. It may be a little hard to see in this photo, but if I had put this pen together, that missing chip of wood would have stuck out like sore thumb.
So I set this aside. I had a thought though. I may be able to turn the wood completely off the tube and reuse the tubes. I could also order more tubes and not mess with it. I don’t know if it’s even worth messing with. I’m going to give it a try anyway though when I get a chance.
The first pen is cedar and the next one is pecan. There is a reason these are pictured together. Let me tell you what happened.
Somehow my blanks got mixed up on the table. I was halfway through turning a pen when I realized, the front piece was cedar and the back piece was pecan. It was too late to do anything about it though. So I just made another turning, with the front piece pecan and the back piece cedar, and then assembled both pens with the right blanks matching each other.
The pecan done just as expected, but I learned yet another lesson with the cedar. Cedar is an extremely soft wood. Someone with long fingernails could probably carved cedar with their fingernails. I learned that, when working with very soft woods, leave your turned blank more proud than normal of your bushing, and then sand down to final size. I have been doing this anyway, but I will in the future do it more so with the cedar. It just so happens that the cedar sands SO fast, that I was removing too much material and, if I had went all the way through all the grits, it would have been smaller than the hardware that went on the pen. So, to keep it to size, I wound up skipping every other grit. This left tiny scratches in the finished piece.
It still looked nice, but I could never attempt to sell something like this with visible scratches in the finish. All is well though. You see, cedar is my wife’s favorite wood. So she was all too happy to take it home and keep it for herself.
I made the next pen out of box elder. This wood was sent to me some time ago by a friend and fellow Lumberjock, Marty.
I was interested in how it would look. Well, there was but one way to find out. This is a beautiful wood for flat work. For a pen, not so much. It is pretty, but kind of plain looking. So I edded some burned in lines to it to give it some kind of color.
After the failure with the maple earlier in the day, I glued up another blank with it. I just had to see what this beautiful wood was going to look like as a pen. It was absolutely stunning. As a matter of fact, after seeing it, it kind of made me sad that I messed up the first attempt at it. This is such a beautiful wood. However, I only have enough scraps of it to make a couple more pens from it before it’s all gone.
This wood came from another friend, and also a Lumberjock, Jeff.
That’s it. These pens are turning out to be the perfect project for me. Now if only I can figure out how to sell them so I can keep doing them.
They are easy.
They keep me busy.
I can do them standing or sitting so they don’t hurt my back much.
There are so many ways to modify, and do them differently.
You can use some of the tiniest scraps to make them. I’ve even been thinking of gluing up some even smaller scraps of different colors.
They are beautiful projects that make perfect gifts.
Did I mention they are fun?