As The Lathe Turns #46: Counting Blessings

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by William posted 07-19-2013 02:56 AM 2301 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 45: A Personal Challenge Part 46 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 47: More Fun And Challenges »

Today’s post is quite a lengthy one. It covers several days work. I did not post daily because I have had something on my mind. I have been thinking of all that I have been blessed with since I started turning pens.
First of all, I love turning pens. I’m sure that has become obvious. The thing I love about it most is the fact that I get the chance to work with so many different beautiful materials that I otherwise would never get to use. That is just the beginning though.
What brought me to thinking of all this? Well I will get to that, but first, I’d like to just start with an overview of all the generosity that has been shown to me since I started turning.
I had an old piece of crap lathe. It wasn’t working out and I found out the spindle was bent. So a friend gave me a lathe.
Then I mentioned that I was interested in pen turning and started experimenting with store bought pen parts. A friend sent me a hundred dollar gift card to get me started with buying proper kits and equipment.
Next, other friends found out about my interest and several of those friends have sent me woods of different species from all over the world.
All this is in addition to the moral support, advice, and all the online help a guy could ever hope for along the way.
I even had another friend who sent me some mesh sandpaper that I had never even heard of which has now become my go to choice for preparing for finishing pens.
I may have left out a detail or two there. I’ve been so blessed with all the support I’ve gotten that I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude. I have no words to express the thanks I owe so many people who have helped me with this adventure.
Anyway, back to the present.

With all this going on a couple of days ago, I forgot to take a photo of the blanks before I started turning pens. Here are the three that were left when I did think about it though.

This one is walnut and box elder. If you’ve been reading my blogs and remember the blanks I’ve made with a double curve line, this one is similar, but an experiment with two lines opposing each other.

This one is purple heart and yellow heart. I got this idea from a photo that was sent to me by a reader of my blog.
It was after this pen that I thought about taking a photo of the blanks. I do apologize for that. I’ve been told by a couple of readers that they like seeing the blanks so they can see what blanks look like before the turning.

This one is padauk and box elder.

This one was one of my wild ideas that turned out pretty good.
All the time, while preparing blanks, I often have thin strips of wood left over off the table saw. I’ve been throwing those strips into a coffee can on one of my tables. I took some of those strips and glued them up just to see how they would turn out.

Then, I like the pen my reader gave me the idea for so much that I made a similar one from ziricote and yellow heart.
Now I must back up to the original thought that began this blog post, the generosity that others have shown so much of to me.

Early on, while turning all the pens I showed above, the mail delivery ran. When I stopped to take my medicine at noon, I went to the house and there was a package by my door.
This came from a good friend, Andy. He sent me some beautiful wood. There is mesquite, black cherry, elm, hedge apple, mulberry, and I’m probably leaving a couple out. There was a lot of beautiful wood.

I immediately had to cut some of it up. These were again woods I had never worked with and had to get a better view of what wonderful grain patterns I was working with.

So before the day was over, I had to take a piece of that hedge apple, which is some of most brilliant color I’ve ever seen in wood, and start on a pen for Andy.
While I was at it, I glued up the rest of those scrap strips I had mentioned earlier for another idea I had on my mind.

Here is the results of my idea. The middle blanks was the idea I was working on. The bottom blank is a result of the left over material from that idea. The top blank is Andy’s pen.

It’s a good thing that the bottom blank in the above photo is left over, because before I could get it to a pen, I had a pretty bad blow out on it. With a blow out this bad, about all you can do is turn it down to the tubes and, hopefully, save them to be used again.

So that made me more cautious when turning the original pen blank I was trying for. Actually, I had a blowout on this one too. However, it happen early enough that I was able to flip that side of the blank and save the overall pen. This is made from sapelle and maple strips that are off cuts from past projects.

That brings me to Andy’s pen.
This is an absolutely beautiful wood, and it is a joy to work with too. It is a very hard wood, which is actually great for turning in my opinion. The yellowish wood is hedge apple. Some people call this osage orange. I’m not sure about that name, because to me it is simply a more brilliant yellow than even yellow heart. It is absolutely stunning. The celtic knot is walnut strips spliced in at a sixty degree angle.
My day of counting blessings did not end there though.

This time the package came by way of UPS. This came from my buddy Jeff. He sent me rosewood, wenge, maple, some spalted maple, and a real treat, the boxes.

These are boxes that Jeff has made for me and two other friends. The boxes are nice, but the attention to detail make them beyond what I can possibly describe in words. They are a work of art in themselves.

Here is my box with two pens I turned sitting in it on pen blocks. Jeff sent the pen blocks too. He has given me full permission to copy his design or come up with a design of my own. Either way I decide to go, I am going to work at this. It will be an added feature I’ll be able to offer while trying to sell pens. Also, for a fee, I will be able to send off lids to be carved with details as nice as the ones on these boxes. Even with the extra cost, I think some people may like that option.

Back to the wood though, have any of you wood workers ever seen a piece of wood that you just couldn’t get off your mind?
While I was finishing up the other pens I showed above, this particular piece of the spalted maple stayed on my mind.
This piece of wood is actually a terrible piece of wood to turn. It has cracking. It has busted out areas. It has some parts where I stuck an awl into to check that were so punky that it almost felt like a sponge. The grain runs across it instead of along the length. For all that it had wrong with it though, it also was absolutely stunning in appearance. Sometimes nature produces something nicer than anything I could possibly glue up.
I won’t bore you with all I had to go through to get this turned without completely ruining it. I will tell you I used a lot (I mean a LOT) of CA glue. I practically had to soak some area in it to stabilize it enough that it wouldn’t fly apart on the lathe.

I don’t know if Jeff knew it or not, but he sent me something else that I love more than anything, a challenge. This blank was a big challenge, but I love how it turned out.
Jeff, please make sure I have your proper address. I’m not sure if the address on the package you sent is your work address or not. Should I sent packages there, or is there another address?

Again, I’d like to thank all who have supported me in my turning adventures. Without the help I have recieved from such good people, there is no way I would have moved so fast to where I am now with this. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.


22 comments so far

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8088 posts in 2353 days

#1 posted 07-19-2013 03:19 AM

They look great William..

Very nice work!

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#2 posted 07-19-2013 03:19 AM

Glad you are having fun with your new woods. That hedge is pretty but I haven’t found a way to keep it from turning dark pretty quickly. I even tried Spar urethane that is supposed to block UV light. But even after it turns dark, it still has that cool shimmer. The mulberry seems to retain it’s yellow color. I can’t compete with those cool boxes Jeff sent (that CNC is cool). Enjoy!

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

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2700 days

#3 posted 07-19-2013 03:24 AM

You WERE gifted and ARE gifted!

You’re able to bring the true beauty out of some awesome wood and made stunning patterns from the leftovers. I think people have been generous because they NEED to see what you’ll come up with next!!!

All I can say is carry on, I’m enjoying the journey. Thanks for taking me along!!!

-- 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


9949 posts in 2867 days

#4 posted 07-19-2013 03:39 AM

Thank you all.

Randy, it is that kind of encouragement that keeps me trying hard as I can to keep coming up with something different. Whether you realize it or not, even your good natured ribbing and support helps me along on those days that I have trouble keeping on keeping on.

Andy, I will be sending this pen to you pretty quickly. It is finished with CA glue. We’ll have to see how it holds up with that finish. If it helps though, I’m not sure how you’d apply CA finish on boxes. Better yet, I’m not sure if you could afford to put CA finish on boxes. It would take quite a bit to cover a box, and this stuff runs about five bucks an ounce.
I much appreciate woods like these. I have never even seen hedge apple around here, even at the hardwood supplier I go to. I love working with woods I wouldn’t ordinarily get to work with.


View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2865 days

#5 posted 07-19-2013 04:23 AM

William that took me a while to get through. I had to stop along the way and look real hard at your work. You are doing some very nice stuff. Oh by the way the preacher signed my daughters marriage license with the pen you made me.
Jeff is up to being his kind self.
Nice work, good friends and a great day.
Peace and no pain William.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View JL7's profile


8667 posts in 2990 days

#6 posted 07-19-2013 10:55 AM

Hey William, another fine looking batch of pens…amazing’ve got those Celtic knots down to a science.

Glad you like the goodies, and yes, I did consider that you wood find a way to make something out of those otherwise useless little chucks of spalted maple….amazing again.

Nice looking lot of wood from Andy also…....can’t wait to see what’s next!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2100 days

#7 posted 07-19-2013 01:03 PM

Good morning William,

This was a great way to start my day. Keep turning, and keep writing.

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3960 days

#8 posted 07-19-2013 02:03 PM

William, What more can I say then WOW, again. I saw your post pop up on my phone this morning but knew I would want to be sitting at a larger screen to look at it. The pens look great, I love the stuff you are doing and you are also a great encouragement to my self and I am sure a few others around here. Not sure if you saw my latest blog but I did a small amount of segmenting a curved piece into one of my necklaces. Once I get a few other items completed for the upcoming craft fairs I am looking forward to doing a bit more experimenting.

Look forward to your next post.


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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3043 days

#9 posted 07-19-2013 02:04 PM

Beautiful pens, William.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3960 days

#10 posted 07-19-2013 02:55 PM

William, Question for ya regarding your non-Centerband pens… are you cutting them a different length then the standard pen kit tubes?


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

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3359 days

#11 posted 07-19-2013 06:36 PM

Your blog was very nice William and it says a lot about the values of the folks who contribute so much to LJ and others too. That last pen is very very special and it is my favorite of all the ones you have shown us to date. It’s wonderful to have such a passion for turning these pens and it’s always interesting to see what you come up with. Keep up the good work!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View lew's profile


12102 posts in 3780 days

#12 posted 07-19-2013 06:47 PM

Beautiful job on all the pens, William!
I have a piece of spalted maple just like you described. You have given me the courage to make something from it, thanks!

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#13 posted 07-19-2013 08:31 PM

William, I have lots of hedge “chunks” like I sent you so just let me know when you need more. Either you get em or they go in the woodstove next winter! How bout the mulberry? Look like what you were after? Got lots of that but it is buried pretty deep in the pile.

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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#14 posted 07-20-2013 02:04 AM

Thank you all very much.
I am going to try my best to answer some questions. If I miss any, please don’t hesitate to point me to anything I need to answer.

I feel priviledged now that something I made had a part in your daughter’s wedding. I feel honored. Thank you.

Jeff, that spalted maple pen is yours, and I have the other blank soaking in a coat of CA glue as I type this so I can turn one for myself since I like it a lot myself. Is the address on the box you mailed this in the correct address to ship things to you?

Thank you. I am glad you enjoy reading my ramblings.

I have not seen your blog post, but will try my best to make a point of doing so before going to bed tonight.

Thank you as always.

Chris, again,
On the non-center band pens, I cut the blanks the same length as the tubes. There is planty enough clearance in the rear tube to simply eliminate the ring and still press everything together properly.
The way I do it just like turning any other slim line pen. I do not use the bushing between the two blanks though. put the blanks together on the mandrel. Turn the pen to the shape you want with both ends to size with the bushings.
Now, I am going to tell you something that is probably obvious, but the first time I made one, I did not think about it. After you turn and sand your pen, and are ready for finish, stop. Remove one of the tubes and put a bushing between them before applying finish, especially if you’re using CA glue. If you do not, you will do what I done, and glue the two blanks together, rendering the finished pen useless.
Oh, one more thing, use your method of choice, but the blank ends, especially the ones at the center of the pen, have to be PERFECTLY straight with the tubes. Any gaps will be even more apparant than normal without the center band.

thank you. It is a great group of guys here. You are among those great guys. In the beginning, you pointed me to so many links to great info, articles, and videos, to get me going. Thank you so much.

The spalted maple was a challenge and a half. Take your time and, if things start seeming iffy, load it down with CA glue to keep things held together without flying apart.

I have a mulberry blank ready to turn that I glued up today. So my next blog installment should tell you how I like it.
As for the hedge, I swear I’m going to cry if I find out it went into the wood stove. At the moment, I think that is my favorite wood of all of them I’ve turned so far. It is not only beautiful, but a pleasure to work with. I would love to get my hands on all of it I could get, and I have room for it too.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#15 posted 07-20-2013 02:16 AM

William, I’ll split you off some chunks of hedge. Can’t stand to see a grown man cry! That is all my buddy in Kansas burns in his stove.

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

showing 1 through 15 of 22 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics