As The Lathe Turns #43: Hooked On Pens

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Blog entry by William posted 07-08-2013 11:08 PM 2033 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 42: A Doctor's Pen Part 43 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 44: The Results Are In »

I had a rough week last week and pretty much done nothing wood work related. For a couple of days now though I have been trying to get a project started. I kept getting sidetracked though. Then I would think about pen blank ideas.
Anyway, I actually started the larger project. It doesn’t make a difference what the project was. It doesn’t warrant talking about for the purpose of what my over all problem is. As I was trying to start it though, everything went wrong. I blame it on several factor, the main one being that my mind just was not on it.
Then I came to a conclusion. This project, I was wanting to do it just to put some time in on a larger project. The particular choice of project though I have done before and have photos to show of it. If someone wants to buy one and put up a deposit, then I’d make it. Otherwise, why am I worrying myself with it? If I have no payment pending project to do, why not just get busy with what my mind was on anyway?
I think I have a problem. I am hooked on pens, and wood turning in general. I have got to get a larger lathe somehow so I can turn larger things more often.
For now though, on with the pens.

The first on, I decided to revisit a favorite. I was able to obtain a couple more pieces of the sideways grain zebra wood.

The zebra wood pen was something I done in between waiting on glue ups to dry. Mostly what I worked on today was some ideas I had for pen blanks.
Any of you who read my blog regularly may remember a time when I was making wild shaped pens with large bulges and other shapes. Lately I have been sticking to this one style of pen. It is a simple design with no center ring. I like it and it is pretty much what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future unless I’m working with something that I cannot get long enough blanks from, like antler, for example.
I tried those weird shapes because I had not found what my “style” would be. I like simple lines. I think the bulges take away from the overall beauty of the woods I am trying to showcase. Instead, I have figured out I would rather glue up blanks to accent and show off different patterns and looks using different species of woods. After all, it is the material used that sets them apart from any other pen that can be bought for pennies at the store.
So what were these blanks that had been on my mind?

Starting at the left:
The one still in the vice is a variation on the wave style I’ve done before. I’ve done a couple of them now, but they have been dark woods with light accent strips. For this one, I went the other way with yellow heart for the main wood. For the accent strip, I started with walnut. Then I figured I’d make it more interesting. Instead of one strip, why not sandwich a strip of box elder between two strips of walnut?
Next is purple heart and box elder. If this turns out on the lathe without issue, this one is going to make me jump for joy. I think I finally have glued up a celtic knot without messing up any of the strips. As far as I can tell, it is perfect. The only way to tell for certain though is, of course, turn it round.
Next, walnut and box elder. I made some pens lately with the long elliptical rings in it. I got the idea from the first pen I described though to sandwich three strips for the center accents.
The last pen I really don’t know what to say. I’m not sure this one isn’t going to simply blow apart when I put the drill bit near it. It is red heart, box elder, and ziricote. It was just one of those wild ideas I had at the last minute and threw it together. If it makes it far enough into the pen making process, we will see how it turns out. Some of my best ideas come from spur of the moment glue ups. Who knows?
I wanted all these to cure overnight. So hopefully we will see tomorrow how they turn out. I just wanted to post this evening to show you all these few ideas that I’m working on.


22 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3005 days

#1 posted 07-09-2013 12:06 AM

You are doin a mighty fine job at those pens. You’ve got it goin on William. Know that you have many, many talents. I’m sure I can speak for many and say, keep on keepin on. Also, my “words-o-wisdom”, “Work/Play safe. Keep makin dust”

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3043 days

#2 posted 07-09-2013 12:27 AM

Thank you Roger.
That always means a lot to me coming from someone who’s pens I admire myself.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2891 days

#3 posted 07-09-2013 12:58 AM

I love that your “style” pen was my favorite all along! That zebrawood pen is really nice.

Did you see that huge marble machine posted today? Amazing! But not wooden.

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

View DIYaholic's profile


19709 posts in 2876 days

#4 posted 07-09-2013 12:58 AM

I think I have a problem.”

I’m afraid to tell you….
That is probably only one of MANY problems!!! ;^)

I’m most anxious to see pens #2 & #4 turned!!!
I’ll be sitting at my keyboard, incessantly hitting the refresh button, awaiting your next blog entry!!!

-- 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 DIYaholic's profile


19709 posts in 2876 days

#5 posted 07-09-2013 12:58 AM

Any results yet???

-- 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 William's profile


9950 posts in 3043 days

#6 posted 07-09-2013 01:06 AM

Thanks Andy.
No I did not see the marble machine, but as soon as I’m through typing this I am going to look for it.

Randy, I know I have many problem. Of course, I thought anyone who still reads my blogs already knew that.
Stop hitting refresh now. It’ll be at least tomorrow evening before I post anything new.
Go turn something on your lathe while you wait.


View clieb91's profile


3521 posts in 4136 days

#7 posted 07-09-2013 01:23 AM

William, Looks like some real fun experiments. I have one waiting for me when I return to the shop. Looking forward to trying to wrap my head around it.

Also look forward to seeing what those pens you have there turn out like. Will check in on them as soon as I get chance, may be spending much of my day tomorrow driving. Good luck with them and stay safe.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3043 days

#8 posted 07-09-2013 01:46 AM

Thanks Chris. You never know how they’ll turn out until you, well, turn them out.
The interesting thing about the layers in pens I have found is, if you take it slow, you can go to varied depths and make different looks. I’ve also learned to be careful though. It is easy to turn right through a layer and make what is a beautiful look and make it into something that is a real headscratcher.

You said you were trying to wrap your head around one you have waiting on you. Are you talking about something you’ve already glued up? Or is it just an idea at this point?


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3505 days

#9 posted 07-09-2013 03:47 AM

i cant wait to see how these turn out, especially the celtic knot, also need to tell you the pen arrived today and i have to say its a gem, its almost hard to believe you made it…i know these pen blanks dont grow on trees, and your designs just have so much genius to them, thank you so much william…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stefang's profile


16133 posts in 3535 days

#10 posted 07-09-2013 07:31 AM

Great new designs William. I also liked the zebra wood one a lot. I also found Grizz’s comment that pen blanks don’t grow on trees very funny. Have a great day and keep on turning!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3353 days

#11 posted 07-09-2013 04:51 PM

Wow cool pens!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View lew's profile


12428 posts in 3956 days

#12 posted 07-09-2013 06:35 PM

Looking forward to seeing how the purple heart turns out!

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

View JL7's profile


8690 posts in 3166 days

#13 posted 07-09-2013 09:03 PM

Hey William – that sideways grain Zebra is very cool… it..

The other glue-ups should be interesting….....

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3043 days

#14 posted 07-10-2013 12:57 AM

Thank you all very much.
I’ll give you a preview.
Today was a great success.
Three of the pens were successes and the fourth one was not my fault and does make a good shop pen.
You’ll have to wait an hour or so for me to finish dinner and type up today’s post to find out more.


View DIYaholic's profile


19709 posts in 2876 days

#15 posted 07-10-2013 01:08 AM

I’ve been hitting the refresh button for 24+ hours now….

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

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