As The Lathe Turns #26: Failure Is Not An Option

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Blog entry by William posted 03-27-2013 12:49 AM 2065 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 25: Woke Up With An Idea Part 26 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 27: One Step Forward...... »

I have been complimented on my “never say die” attitude in the past by fellow Lumberjocks. That perserverence helped me get to where I wanted to be today, but it made me want to share with my friends about my Uncle J.C.

My Uncle J.C. was one of the men who helped raise me. He was a twenty three year military veteran. In my eyes, he was what a real man was. He was a hard nosed, gun toting, take no crap off noone kind of guy, who also taught me how to sew, cook, iron clothes, do housework, and to always have a kind heart. He taught me to live off the land, hunt, fish, garden, field dress any animal, and what berries and roots to eat if you had no animal to eat. Then he turned right around and taught me to love, laugh, and to care for your fellow man. Anytime I think of giving up on anything though, even though he passed on years ago, I can still hear him in my ear, ”can’t never could boy. Failure is not an option. Now try again. If you still don’t get it, keep trying until you do”.

Anyway, story time is over. I just felt a need for some reason to share that.

If you seen the angular approach of yesterday, I think it looked nice. As a matter of fact, after seeing the results, I have a hard time looking at a single wood pen the same now. How can I when I know that adding other colors can make such a dramatic difference. I’m sure that I’ll do plain pens too, but for now, I want to play with these ideas some more. It may take a while, but I have to see where it leads me.
From the start today, I had an idea of what I wanted. I could see it in my head. I have no idea what the design is called though. I have seen the design on pens before, but just didn’t know exactly how to accomplish it. I am sure a little internet research would probably have netted me several step by step articles on how to get there, but where is the fun in that?

First thing I had to do was to turn the blank I had prepared yesterday evening before leaving the shop. I felt it wasn’t on the path to what I was after, but I felt it was still too nice a design to scrap at this point. This one is walnut with box elder.

This one is box elder with sapelle. It is nothing like what I am trying to do. It did look good to me though. So I felt it was a keeper.
Then it was on to moving more towards what I am trying to do. I had several failed glueups in a row. I figured out that gluing these thin strips in line was causing issues. It was just too hard to keep everything lines with you get more than one or two strips. I thought this one out and realized that, since it was to be turned down in size, that I didn’t need to cut my angles all the way through the wood. Cutting a certain depth into my blanks, and then turning down, gives me something to keep the complete blank in line, and turns out the same on the lathe. This also made me realize that this idea opens up a whole new world of possibilites that may keep my mind going for months.
Next problem I had was glue. I had been using super glue. Again, this was fine with one or two strips. Past that though and things start to get messy. Everything wants to slide around and I’d accidentally touch recently glued surfaces. This stuff take a bit to set up on wood, but does so instantly on fingers.
I tried several glues on test pieces and settle on some new type of Gorilla Glue that I’d bought a while back. It is the type that expands. This fills in any gaps I may get, and it shows up almost instantly so I can be more careful to not get it on my fingers.
So away I went with my idea. I was feeling real confident and decided I’d use all these fresh ideas on a piece of that beautiful cocobolo I recently got.
Oops. Another mistake. This one had nothing to do with the problems I’d been having with everyhting else. It had everything to do with I just messed up. I took too big a bite while cutting down close to the tube and broke the blank.

No, this is not exactly what I was going for either. This was just a different idea I had while waiting for glue on a more complex clamped blank to dry.
This one is also box edler with sapelle.

Box elder and sapelle again. There is a name for this design, but I don’t know what it is. This is what I had been trying to do all day. I know some of you may think that is funny, because it is a rather simple design. Without instruction though, it is hard sometimes for me to vision exactly what a design on a squared blank will look like once turned. So, trying to accomplish a certain look by guessing how to get that from a squared blank, is a head scratcher sometimes. Through trial and error though, I think you could possibly get any design you could possibly imagine.
It’s all fun and games until you run out of pen kits. That reminds me. I need to sell some more of these pens so I can order more pen kits. I’m starting to run low.


20 comments so far

View ShaneA's profile


6955 posts in 2621 days

#1 posted 03-27-2013 01:00 AM

Nice, remarkable and quick progress. Hard to imagine what you will be working on in a month or two based on how far and fast your skill has advanced.

View boxcarmarty's profile


16299 posts in 2383 days

#2 posted 03-27-2013 01:00 AM

They just keep gettin’ better…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2698 days

#3 posted 03-27-2013 01:02 AM

Those designs are AMAZING!!!

Loved the Uncle J.C. story. Thanks for sharing your life experiences!!!

Do you take any pictures of the blanks during/after glue ups? I would be interested in seeing a “Before” picture of a blank & then an “after” picture of the turning.

Keep playing, it works!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2880 days

#4 posted 03-27-2013 01:26 AM

Sounds like Uncle JC was a great man
William those pens are awesome, you have some great ideas
keep them coming

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2713 days

#5 posted 03-27-2013 01:53 AM

Loved the “uncle JC” story! Are you after a Celtic Knot design? I like all of your latest but the narrow waist I like less than your fatter ones. (if that makes any sense)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View lew's profile


12100 posts in 3778 days

#6 posted 03-27-2013 02:02 AM

You are getting the Celtic Knot pattern perfected, William. A little steeper angle will elongate the pattern more.
Nice Job!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2865 days

#7 posted 03-27-2013 02:04 AM

Thank you all.

Shane, thank you. I don’t know what I’ll be working on in a month either. It’ll be either better or worse though. That’s all I know for sure.

Marty, thank you.

Randy, I do take photos often, but I’m afraid I did not take photos of these because I had no idea how they were going to turn out.
The cross one is simple enough to duplicate.
The double S pattern I couldn’t duplicate again except by pure chance.
The last one, by the time you get your lathe set up I will have gotten it down to perfect enough that I’m happy with and write a blog with plenty of in progress photos just for you.

Jamie, thank you. That means a lot coming from you. Sometimes my ideas don’t make a bit of sense, but noone can say I don’t try anyway.

Andy, I am not sure, but Celtic knot may be the name of it. That does sound familiar.
I understand exactly what you’re saying. The long and slender pen I done today would not be my first choice either. In the end though, I am also trying to have enough of a wide variety of styles, sizes and shapes to satisfy anyone who may wish to buy a pen. I can’t make them all only to my likeing, because I seldom use a pen anyway. My writing is usually done with a carpenter’s pencil on a scrap piece of wood.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2865 days

#8 posted 03-27-2013 02:06 AM

There you go Andy. Lew calls it a celtic knot as well. So I guess that’s the name of it.
Thank you Lew.

Lew, thank you. I have been trying to play with varying the angle some just to see what effects I get. The first few off center circles (that’s what I’m calling them until I think of something better) I made were done at a forty five degree angle.
Just as a mean of testing, the celtic knot (as we now know to call it) was done on a thirty degree angle.


View lew's profile


12100 posts in 3778 days

#9 posted 03-27-2013 02:38 AM

When you make the cut for your inlay (sapele), don’t cut completely thru the blank- leave about 1/32” of elder holding the pieces together. Glue in the sapele. Rotate the blank and repeat- again leaving the 1/32” of elder holding the blank together.
This trick was given to me by another Lumberjock when I was trying to develop my rolling pins. Doing it this way assures the segments of the “knot” stay lined up where they cross.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3041 days

#10 posted 03-27-2013 04:19 AM

I’m impressed William! Very much impressed! Have you tried gluing one layer at a time instead of trying to do it all at once and everything gets to slipping and sliding? When I work with segmented bowls/vases this is what I have to do! Doing too much at a time ruins it so try a bit of patience! Good worthwhile things sometimes take a good bit of time. Sometimes you can do several things at a time when you work this way, then they seem to all come done at the same time. What have you got to lose but time?

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Ken90712's profile


17563 posts in 3212 days

#11 posted 03-27-2013 08:52 AM

Great story of JC and way to go! great looking pens!!!! I think that is one thing in common with alot of us Fellow LJ’s on here. We never give up and Can’t is not something we think of.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2865 days

#12 posted 03-27-2013 10:46 AM

Lew, I tried to describe that the best I could in the blog entry. I figured out about not cutting all the way through, leaving some wood to hold the blank together. This is a big help that will allow me to try all kinds of configurations.
Two other ideas I have though may take days to get everything glued up and ready.
1. A pen with the off center ring, but with so many with different species of wood that it’ll be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. This sounds like it would look wild, but I think it would be a very interesting piece.
2. I seen this once with a cutting board, but I am thinking with pieces for a pen blank. Rip, flip glue. Then, rip the other way, flip glue. Keep doing this until you have square, and none of them over about an eighth of an inch. This will mean a lot of flipping and gluing. I think I could get two or three flip and glueups a day, and maye start with about five different species in the beginning. That may be a very interesting pen.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2865 days

#13 posted 03-27-2013 10:54 AM

Bearpie. I have absolutely thought of gluing one inlaid piece at a time. This would take days of course to get some of the designs I’m wanting to do. This will be the way to go in the future, after I’ve really learned what I can expect from different configurations.
At the time though, it just seems to frustrating for me to wait for glue to dry on some pieces just to find out what it’ll look like. For example, the last pen with the celtic cross, it has five different strips of sapelle in it.
Another advantage I have found is using the gorilla glue. It takes longer to cure, but sets quicker to allow me to move to the next insert. The allows me to put the inserts in in less time. I just have to wait longer before turning after getting it all together. It’s a trade off.

I have a confession to make as well. I could always find something else to do while some of this is drying. I’m getting ready to go out of town though for a few days. I REALLY wanted a couple of these ideas experimented before leaving so I could carry some of the pens with these ideas on them with me. So my impatiance with these glue ups have been for purely selfish reasons. I will have more time after the trip, especially since my turning is soon going to be an aside to a new project I must get started on.
That’s right. After my trip I have a non turning project I must start on. Ya’ll may get a break from me talking pens every day.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2865 days

#14 posted 03-27-2013 10:55 AM

Ken. Thank you.
I respect that about a lot of Lumberjocks. I remember when I first joined this site how overwhelmed I was (still am sometimes) at the amazing talent, but also the amazing amount of time some guys (and gals) here have in their projects.


View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2827 days

#15 posted 03-27-2013 11:13 AM

You have been on the move. Getting very creative with these fine writing utensils. Lookin gr8. I know yer havin a blast

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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