As The Lathe Turns #57: What I Like

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Blog entry by William posted 11-07-2013 01:50 AM 1332 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 56: Back To Basics Part 57 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 58: Everything Is Experimental »

If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you know I fairly recently tried power sanding bowls on the lathe and liked it. Well, I’ve had several people suggest a non-powered method that seems to be popular. I checked into it and do believe that it will work just as well as the power sanding, but easier to deal with. I checked on one suggested system. You can see it if you like by clicking on this link. Besides being out of stock at the moment, I simply do not have the money to afford it at this time. I still wanted to try this type system though.
So I watched Captain Eddies video here and built his design. I think the one from Penn State will probably be better, but this one will get me started until I can afford to get it.

The thing is really just a handle with holes drilled into it. Inside those holes is a magnet that is glued into the bottom to keep the sanding attachment from just falling out. While Captain Eddie sells a bushing set that probably works wonderfully for this tool, I did not have the money to buy that at the moment either. So I used quarter inch bronze bushings that I got at my local hardware store.

For the sanding attachment, I read an article here.
They are simple to make really. They are just a piece of three quarter inch plywood cut into a two inch diameter circle. The mandrel shaft is just a quarter inch carriage bolt with the head cut off. The threaded end is used to attach it to the plywood disk using nuts, washers, and a drop of CA glue to prevent the nut from moving once tightened down. The foam rubber and Velcro backing is attached using thick CA glue.
This photo shows the three different locations I can put the sanding attachments. By moving the attachment being used to a different hole I can sand straight out from the handle, at a ninety degree angle to it, or a forty five degree angle.
If this works like I think it will, I think I will like the adjustable angle on the Penn State model better. I can make do with this though until I can afford that. I haven’t used it yet on a bowl, but will be sure to report back on the results when I do.

Now, for the meaning of the title of this blog post.
The recent pens I’ve been making have been made from some very interesting burls and such. While I enjoy using these type materials, it is not what I really enjoy the most. What I like is this, making blanks. I enjoy gluing up my own blanks instead of using solid pieces. While I can never match the beauty that comes from nature in the form of a beautiful burl blank, or some interesting spalting in just the right area of a blank, I just seem to get more satisfaction from gluing up blanks like these. It is fun to experiment and you never know for sure how they will turn out until you put the cutting tool to the wood on the lathe.
You see the blanks in the photo. Now I’ll go from the top down and show you how they turned out.

This one is mulberry and bocote. This one was an attempt at making a chevron design. I was recently asked about putting a chevron on a pen. Until I went online to find out what a chevron even was, I was a little lost for words, and that is truly unusual for me. So after seeing what a chevron was, I started trying to get on in a design. I do not know if this qualifies or not. I will have to ask for opinions on that.

With the same chevron styling in mind, I made this one from padauk, ziricote, and hedge apple.

This next one was supposed to be a zig zag down the length of the pen as I’d seen on some other chevron themed items on the internet. Remember what I said about you never know for sure how they’ll turn out? I neglected to remember the curvation effect that turning a square blank round has on intersecting lines. I still like the way it turned out though. It is an interesting pen in my personal opinion.
It is made of mulberry and walnut.

This next one is blood wood and mulberry. It is simply another one of my “why not” ideas. When I start playing with these wave designs, it almost always creates interesting patterns. Remember that interesting does not always mean it looks good or is pretty. Sometimes the ones I find ugly as homemade sin are also the most interesting.

Again, I just wanted to see how this idea would turn out, and there is only one way to find out. I cut two blanks, one wild cherry and one padauk, at a long angle and sandwiched a strip of mulberry in there. I do not like this pen, but it is interesting.
Since I did not like this last pen, I didn’t bother turning the last blanks in the photo of glued up blanks. I only made that last one to use up the other halves of the padauk and wild cherry blanks that I had cut up to make the above pen. I sandwiched box elder in it. I put it away in my blank pile. One day I’ll think of some other embellishment I wish to add to it to make it interesting.
You may notice that sometimes I make pens that I find interesting, if ugly. I actually have a good reason for that. You see, from what I’ve learned, if a pen is interesting, I may find it ugly while someone else may think it is absolutely beautiful. Therefore, as long as it’s interesting, I feel it is a good chance that someone, somewhere, will like it. Then I only hope they like it enough to buy it, because Lord knows I need to sells more of my pens if I am to keep turning them.
That’s all for today. Until next time, happy turning.


12 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2660 days

#1 posted 11-07-2013 02:09 AM

The first pen is my favorite of tonight’s pens. But did you notice some of the amazing grain in the QS sycamore used in your boxes? Qs sycamore is just one of my favorites.

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

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


19598 posts in 2645 days

#2 posted 11-07-2013 02:32 AM

I too find that Pen #1 is “What I like”....

Looking forward to reading your “review”, of your “sanding stick”....

Keep experimenting, William. Your experiments are always “interesting” and usually quite Purdy!!!

-- 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 lew's profile


12019 posts in 3725 days

#3 posted 11-07-2013 02:37 AM

Nice pens, William!

About your “Sanding Stick”, I’ve been collecting stuff to make one myself. I’ve read where the magnet is supposed to be a sphere (ball) magnet. Is that what you used? If so, where did you find one?


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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2812 days

#4 posted 11-07-2013 04:50 AM

Andy, I like sycamore myself.
When I first got that batch of wood, I thought it was just crap wood. That was until I cut into it one day and realized that under the ugly, unfinished, rough looking wood was some beautiful grain. It is also a very easy wood to work with.
And that is one of the reasons I made some boxes from it.

Randy, I’ll let ya’ll know how it works as soon as I get a chance to use it.

Lew, I used a small disk shaped rare earth magnet. I too had read about the sphere magnet but decided that I had nothing to lose by trying this. It seems to spin just fine on the disk magnet. It may be a different story once I put it in action. All I can do is wait and see. I will try to turn a small bowl within the next few days just so I can try it out and let you know.
If the disk magnet does work alright, you can pick them up on the hardware isle at Home Depot.

Thank you all for your comments.


View Woodknack's profile


11493 posts in 2350 days

#5 posted 11-07-2013 05:25 AM

I’ve been wanting to make one of those sanders, maybe this weekend.

Ironically I hate making blanks so you make them and I’ll turn them, haha.

-- Rick M,

View Doe's profile


1402 posts in 2800 days

#6 posted 11-07-2013 09:46 AM

The first chevron one is really nice; I like the mulberry and bocote together. My favorite is the blood wood and mulberry; I love the swoop-de-doos.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2812 days

#7 posted 11-07-2013 12:35 PM

Rick, if you don’t have the sphere magnet that lew and I mentioned, I would wait to see how this one works with a disk magnet. I think it’ll work fine, but we’ll have to see.
As for the blanks, you joke, but if you really like the blanks I glue up, I might be willing to trade random blank glue ups for some nice pen kits.

Do’ I think you just proved my point about interesting pens looking good to someone. I don’t like the blood wood and mulberry one. It turned out, again in my own opinion, uneven and very much too busy in some areas. I guess though that it’s a good think that people like different things. It is also what make the world as interesting I think.

Thank you both.


View Woodknack's profile


11493 posts in 2350 days

#8 posted 11-07-2013 01:38 PM

I would take you up on that William but I don’t turn pens and ergo have no pen kits to trade. Really I was joking and thinking of bigger blanks anyway.

-- Rick M,

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2812 days

#9 posted 11-07-2013 06:04 PM

It was worth a shot rick.
Actually, it has been suggested to me to sell blanks I make to other pen turners.
However, since I know a lot of turners are as short on cash a myself,
And I am always short on nice kits,
I have thought of doing some trading with interested pen turners.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2812 days

#10 posted 11-07-2013 08:34 PM

Ok lew, and others, I’m turning a bowl and took the time to stop in the middle of it and see how the sanding stick thingy works.
Ok, actually I’m impatient and wanted to know myself as well.

Upon initial testing on the outside of the bowl, it seems to work great.
It spins freely, so I cannot understand the advantage of the sphere shaped magnet over the disk shaped magnet I’m using.
The only thing I could think of is maybe the theory is that the round magnet would contact the end of the mandrel shaft less, this introducing less possibility for friction. I don’t think there is enough friction there to make a difference. If that is a concern, simply grind the end of the mandrel shaft into a half sphere shape or a blunted point. This would essentially serve the same purpose of lessening contact area.

Anyway, good hardware stores have bronze bushings and the disk shaped disks can be found in a lot of places, including Home Depot. So give it a try.


View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2774 days

#11 posted 11-07-2013 10:15 PM

You are an experimental genius, William. All, super nice writing instruments.

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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2812 days

#12 posted 11-08-2013 02:03 AM

I don’t know about genius Roger.
I may be an experiment though.
I show more results on today’s blog post.
You can see it here.


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