As The Lathe Turns #47: More Fun And Challenges

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Blog entry by William posted 07-23-2013 12:53 AM 1504 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 46: Counting Blessings Part 47 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 48: Pen Boxes »

I have to apologize for today’s (again) very lengthy post. It started with six pen blanks. Then I was not able to get them done in one day’s time. So it dragged on for a couple of days. I need to start making fewer blanks at once I guess. Another option would be to photograph the blanks separately so I can post daily on just what I do. That would use up even more space though. So I’m torn on how to handle that little problem.
Anyway, while I figure that out, let’s get to it shall we?

Here are the six blanks I mentioned. As usual though, there is more to the story on some of these.

The first one I made was the other cross grained spalted maple that my buddy had sent me. I think this one turned out to be an even bigger challenge than the first.

Next was the hedge apple with the sixty degree celtic knot of walnut.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself that you’ve already seen these recently, so why do them again, and show them again, so soon?

Remember that fancy box my friend sent me?

I had decided that I liked these two pens so much, that the reason I made them again so soon was, these are now my own personal pens.

Next up was the mulberry. The mulberry reminds me a lot of yellow heart. It is a beautiful wood, but is kind of plain without some kind of accent to it. So I added a square of ziricote to the center of the blank before turning.

Speaking of the similarities between yellow heart and mulberry, my friend had sent me this because he said that yellow heart I’d made such a fuss about recently looked a lot like mulberry to him. So here is a side by side comparison of the three yellowish woods. From left to right is mulberry, yellow heart, and hedge apple.
Andy is right, turned, the yellow heart and mulberry look almost identical. They look so much alike that I want to do some research soon as to what the differences are in these two woods, if any. They both look, turn, and smell the same. If I find out anything about this mystery, I’ll be sure to report back.
In the meantime, Andy, I absolutely love the mulberry. Again, since I have never seen mulberry or yellow heart locally, it is a special treat to me to be able to work with these woods.

Next, I had noticed that I had several sixty degree knots in lighter woods, but none the opposite. So I decided to try one in jatoba, another wood I had never turned before.
It actually turned out beautifully, until I messed up. The front end of the pen looked a tad too plain to me compared to the rear with the celtic knot. So I got the bright idea of burning some lines.
The wire somehow caught, broke the wire, and messed up the pen.

This is what is left of the burn wire. I still have not found all of it after it violently slung across my shop. I am here to beg all of you wood turners who are holding wire with your fingers to burn lines, and I know this because I used to do it that way, please make some handles like you see in this photo. Yes, my wire is broken, but not my fingers. If I had been holding the wire wrapped around my fingers like I used to, I’d be lucky to have all ten of them right now.

The last two pens in the blank batch you’ve also seen before. I just decided to go ahead and get these two turned to get them off my bench.

The friend who sent me the cross grained spalted maple? He also sent me a piece of long grain. I decided I just couldn’t wait to see how it turned out.

It turned out beautifully. Actually, I think this one may be a little nicer. It has a lighter color because I was able to turn it without completely saturating it in glue to hold it together.

That evening I decided to go see another friend of mine, Chips.
Chips gave me this piece of cherry burl. I was anxious to cut into this. I’ve never worked with any kind of burl in raw form. I know from reading that it’s like a Christmas present. You never know what’s inside until you cut into it.
So I wondered what I could find in this?

Well that didn’t look at all like I expected. Then again, I’m not sure what I expected.

I like to be able to get five continuous inches of blank material when possible. I was not able to get that out of any of the burl pieces. So instead, I looked it over good and matched up two short length blanks the best I could.

Then, with all that careful matching, I had a major blowout and wound up having to flip one piece so the blown out area could be turned off the back end to shape the pen. I still think it turned out to be an extraordinary piece though. As I’ve said before, sometimes nature creates looks more beautiful than anything I could possibly glue up in a blank.

Last pen for this post, the same friend who had sent the box you seen earlier in this post, he sent me several pieces of wenge. This wood intrigued me. It varied from almost black to a chocolaty brown color. It looked beautiful, and I wanted to know what it would look like as a pen.

Hey! You can’t win them all.
I do not like this pen at all. Believe it or not, it was a beautiful contrast in it that drew the eye in after sanding it to a smooth finish. Then I put a CA glue finish on it, and the lighter colors in the contrast turned almost as dark as the darker areas, leaving a pretty bland looking pen. I think I have enough of this for two more pens. I think I will try again at a later date, with a different finish than the CA glue I normally use.


15 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2744 days

#1 posted 07-23-2013 01:02 AM

I am so glad you like the hedge and mulberry. The hedge will darken quite a bit. The mulberry seems to stay yellow. I honestly think the hedge is my favorite of all you have done.

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

View StumpyNubs's profile


7609 posts in 2854 days

#2 posted 07-23-2013 01:04 AM

WOW, I am really impressed, William. Great work!

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3072 days

#3 posted 07-23-2013 01:16 AM

Have you worked with lignum vitae, tulip wood or Florida rosewood? I’ll be bringing a variety of different species that I have. Looking forward to our trip.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View JL7's profile


8672 posts in 3019 days

#4 posted 07-23-2013 01:18 AM

Well that’s another amazing display of goodies there William…..don’t even know where to start…

The pens you made for the box are stellar…..good choice. The Mulberry is cool, never really seen that before….good call Andy…..Glad you still got your fingers, that’s kinda scary…...the long grain Spalted Maple looks killer… nailed it.

The Cherry Burl…..still not sure how you managed to get pens out of that…..but cool. And too bad the Wenge was a bust… pretty cool wood sometimes…..maybe for an accent…

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2896 days

#5 posted 07-23-2013 01:27 AM

Thank you all.

Andy, I like the hedge myself. The yellow heart and mulberry look pretty, but the hedge, as it is now, simply glows.

Thanks Stumps.

Erwin, I have never worked with lignum vitae or tulip wood. As for the rosewood, I don’t know. I’ve worked with a couple of different things that I’ve heard people call rose wood, like the cocobolo. I’m a little lost about what all species of rose wood there is. I keep reading and trying to understand it though.
I look forward to your trip as well.

Jeff, thank you, for the compliments and the woods.
As for the close call with the burning wire, no worries. I learned early on in turning, anything that can potentially wrap around a turning piece, take exta precautions with it. When you least expect it, something will catch.
The cherry burl, I am becoming better and better at getting blanks out of the least likely pieces. I enjoyed working with the burl. I have more for future adventures with that.
The wenge, I am thinking the same thing, accent pieces. It is dark as the ziricote, which is one of my favorite accent woods in contrast with lighter woods.


View DIYaholic's profile


19624 posts in 2729 days

#6 posted 07-23-2013 01:42 AM

Great stuff William!

You found fitting goods to occupy that gorgeous box.
However, you can’t keep stealing all the pen profits!!!

-- 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 grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3357 days

#7 posted 07-23-2013 02:26 AM

yes sir william, you have some really beautiful pens, and hey, ya win some and loose some, live and learn, but over all i would say your winning more then the other, so keep at it…im glad you have switched your wire burning method, otherwise you would be related to ole stumpy nubs…lol…which might not be so bad, you would get some of his big money….lol…..just kidding stumpy….dont do a video now cuz i said that….well william , im loving your new venture here…although your scrolling skills might be getting kinda weak…..but i think there probably just fine…you sure have some pretty wood there, i need to make a few friends like you have…:)...good night amigo.

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

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2858 days

#8 posted 07-23-2013 03:46 AM

Some beautiful stuff there William. Wow!

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

View Gary's profile


14 posts in 1941 days

#9 posted 07-23-2013 04:33 AM

Beautiful pens William

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2129 days

#10 posted 07-23-2013 10:44 AM

Okay, looks like I completely disagree with you on something for once.
As I was reading along and scrolling down, I stopped dead on the wenge.
While the other pens are very nice with the contrasting wood, this one is classy classy classy! Not to minimize the work you’ve done on the other pens that might be more challenging/rewarding, but this one is tops.

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2896 days

#11 posted 07-23-2013 11:53 AM

Thanks, but since I am the one making the pens, I’m allowed to steal as much as I want.

I know I haven’t done a scrolling piece in a while. I sit at the saw and do test pieces from time to time just to make sure I can. Then I get back to the lathe. I think someone told me once or twice that wood turning was addictive.
As for the wire, I again BEG anyone who hasn’t made handles for their wire to do so.
Another lesson is what do you all use to apply finish and such? I used to use cotton rags. Nowadays, anything stronger than paper towels never gets near my lathe. I seen a video dealing with this one and it was gruesome. Did you know that a half horse lathe can snatch a finger clean off?

Your compliments always mean a lot to me because you do such superior work yourself. Thank you.

Thank you.

I’m glad you like the wenge pen so much. If there is a feasible way for you, I’d be glad to send it to you. You know the issues we mentioned before, but I sure would like to send you one.
It’s no problem about disagreeing either. I don’t always make a fuss about it, but some of my least favorite pens that I’ve made, others have went crazy over. Everyone doesn’t like the same thing.


View Chips's profile


199 posts in 3766 days

#12 posted 07-23-2013 01:47 PM

Your creativity is amazing. Love them all. I was hoping the burl would have more usable wood in it. You never know. Thanks for stopping by the other day. I had stopped early because what I was doing was not working. Your tip make it easy, fast, and perfect. Thanks

-- Make every day the best day of your life. Chips, Mississippi

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2896 days

#13 posted 07-23-2013 03:22 PM

Thanks Chips. I’m glad to hear you got that problem worked out. I hope to get over there in the next couple of days for more of that pipe to try turning.


View Mauricio's profile


7144 posts in 3205 days

#14 posted 07-29-2013 06:51 PM

Some Fantastic pens William!

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2896 days

#15 posted 07-30-2013 12:03 AM

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