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WoodChick #3: Pen #2 Explodes on the Lathe!

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Blog entry by sfhipchick posted 07-16-2017 02:27 AM 2772 reads 0 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: My First Pen in 8+ Years Part 3 of WoodChick series Part 4: Some History and Things I Hope to Accomplish »

We have some lovely 11-ply pine plywood that we used to make my lathe table. With every piece we cut off, I’d stand and stare at how pretty the layers looked, and both of us agreed it would surely make a beautiful pen. So, we cut one of the pieces down to .75 x .75×5” and then went the extra step and stabilized it with Cactus Juice in our new vacuum chamber. That was our first time stabilizing wood so I was really excited to try turning this wood.

That being said, I also know the inherent risk of blow-out with a plywood pen, stabilized or not. But hey, I wanted to try it out and big deal if the pen exploded. It would be fun to try!

Right off the bat, the blank was catching, though I was being very careful and started off by sanding down the hard edges some. I got both sides round and things went along well after that. I did get a few chip-outs but they were shallow enough that I turned them out. The blanks really stated getting pretty as I approached the finished dimension and I allowed myself to get excited. I might actually avoid an explosion!!

Then I noticed that one side had some weakness issues. I turned the blank down to a void in the ply and eventually it turned into a rectangular area filled with glue but it was really ugly—and weak. I also discovered a small knot right at the edge of the blank. Pretty sure this side was going to explode, I switched to the other side and was happy to find no issues with it and was successful turning it to completion! Turning back to the weak side, I carefully shaved it down bit by bit. Just about the time I wondered if I might get lucky, BANG! Two pieces went flying and I turned off the lathe. I think it probably exploded on the knot.

The good news is that I’ll be able to stabilize another half-blank and turn it down, and the wonderful news is that the piece that I finished is really beautiful imo. I haven’t polished it but I did go ahead and sand it all the way to 8000 to get an idea of what it will look like. LOVELY! I can’t wait to get another blank stabilized so I can finish this pen! :)

Here are pictures to see the blanks on the lathe, along with the broken pieces. I am so happy that I tried turning plywood—it’s just as wonderful as I thought it would be, and great for practicing on too. There’s something nice about going into a project understanding the expected risks and having no qualms about probable failures.

Here’s the pen after I stopped the lathe. Awww, poor dead blank!

Here are the broken pieces. You can see the really ugly glue-filled void—I would have turned a new blank anyway based on this ugly bit. You can see the knot on the lower piece…I think that’s where it exploded.

Finally, here is the pen on the lathe with the finished side polished to 8k. It will be a beauty when I get another blank finished and can complete this pen!

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy



28 comments so far

View playingwithmywood's profile

playingwithmywood

318 posts in 1290 days


#1 posted 07-16-2017 04:08 AM

what kind of glue are you using to glue your blanks to the tube ?

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#2 posted 07-16-2017 06:34 AM

CA glue…do you think coverage might have had something to do with the blowout? My husband was wondering if the stabilizing might not have been a full penetration.

Thanks for the comment, btw! :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View playingwithmywood's profile

playingwithmywood

318 posts in 1290 days


#3 posted 07-16-2017 02:19 PM


CA glue…do you think coverage might have had something to do with the blowout? My husband was wondering if the stabilizing might not have been a full penetration.

From the look of your photo it looked like CA glue and every blank I ever had do that was CA

Scratch the tube good with 80 grit sand paper a few times and then wipe it down with alcohol, acetone or lacquer thinner and then use epoxy and let the blanks and tube fully cure over night. I stuff the ends of my blanks with play-dough to keep the epoxy out of the end I am inserting into the blank

something like this clear 5 min but yea let it cure over night or till it is totally hard http://www.gorillatough.com/gorilla-epoxy

The fact you are stabilizing the blanks I would not think you would be having problems but I would give up the CA glue for gluing blanks. I know lots of people use it and use it successfully but I have never had a blow out like that since doing epoxy only

Good Luck

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#4 posted 07-16-2017 04:16 PM

Hey, thanks for the advice! I’ve read/seen videos from many who say the same thing about CA glue vs. epoxy. I considered using epoxy but didn’t. I’ll use that on my next blanks…well, I have two blanks ready to turn that are CA’d in place, but after that I’ll use epoxy.

Regarding the stabilizing, it was our first time trying it, and we didn’t do it correctly. We turned off the pump before the material stopped bubbling and only kept the pressure up. Granted, we kept the pressure up for a good 24 hrs, but we realized after we’d released the vacuum that the pump is supposed to be on until the bubbles cease. So, there may have been incomplete penetration to add to the weakness factors of the wood.

Anyway, thanks again for your input, I appreciate it! :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2067 posts in 1827 days


#5 posted 07-16-2017 07:45 PM

Don’t know if glue was the problem but do prefer epoxy over CA for gluing tubes. While outter wood layer of plywood might be a certain grade those inner layers use substandard stuff have around.

Rude Osolnik and others turned lot of plywood wood bowls and other things do not remember if they stablized before turning. Do remember lot talk about quality of plywood you need to used for turning.

http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=19101

You must have paid big bucks for 11 ply plywood but with defects like knots and suspect quality wood inner layers going to be trail & error till get what you want. That second blank picture would make me determine to continue. Think you are onto something great, good luck with it.

-- Bill

View playingwithmywood's profile

playingwithmywood

318 posts in 1290 days


#6 posted 07-16-2017 08:56 PM


Regarding the stabilizing, it was our first time trying it, and we didn t do it correctly. We turned off the pump before the material stopped bubbling and only kept the pressure up. Granted, we kept the pressure up for a good 24 hrs, but we realized after we d released the vacuum that the pump is supposed to be on until the bubbles cease. So, there may have been incomplete penetration to add to the weakness factors of the wood.

- sfhipchick

just wondered did you pre-drilled d the blank before stabilizing that might add better penetration on the ply wood

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#7 posted 07-16-2017 09:11 PM

Oooo, that’s another really good idea! No, we didn’t. We’ll try that in the future. Thank you! :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#8 posted 07-16-2017 09:14 PM



Don’t know if glue was the problem but do prefer epoxy over CA for gluing tubes. While outter wood layer of plywood might be a certain grade those inner layers use substandard stuff have around.

Rude Osolnik and others turned lot of plywood wood bowls and other things do not remember if they stablized before turning. Do remember lot talk about quality of plywood you need to used for turning.

http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=19101

You must have paid big bucks for 11 ply plywood but with defects like knots and suspect quality wood inner layers going to be trail & error till get what you want. That second blank picture would make me determine to continue. Think you are onto something great, good luck with it.

- Wildwood

Oh, I didn’t see this comment, I’ll definitely go read the thread, thanks for the link! :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2067 posts in 1827 days


#9 posted 07-17-2017 12:21 PM

This article this might interest gent goes on explaining his method of turning a plywood cigar pen.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Woodturning-a-Plywood-Cigar-Pen/

Point of my post mainly plywood can be very unforgiven to turn. Woodturners been turning plywood and producing some really amazing stuff.

-- Bill

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#10 posted 07-17-2017 06:45 PM

Thanks Bill, I’ll check it out! :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View Cathie Zimmerman's profile

Cathie Zimmerman

100 posts in 506 days


#11 posted 07-17-2017 09:41 PM

Man that looked like it was gonna be AWESOME! will be excited to see attempt #2 on this. I love the layers!

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#12 posted 07-17-2017 10:27 PM



Man that looked like it was gonna be AWESOME! will be excited to see attempt #2 on this. I love the layers!

- Cathie Zimmerman

nods happily I am excited too. We just need to cut another piece down and stabilize it. Can’t wait to get it finished. :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View playingwithmywood's profile

playingwithmywood

318 posts in 1290 days


#13 posted 07-18-2017 03:43 AM



This article this might interest gent goes on explaining his method of turning a plywood cigar pen.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Woodturning-a-Plywood-Cigar-Pen/

I want to make a quick point… If you are serious about pen turning start drilling your blanks on the lathe. If you do not have a chuck for lathe get one. The Nova chuck teamed up with their pen jaw set will make your holes much more accurate and overall faster once you start drilling on the lathe especially if when drilling plastic blanks and other specialty ones with out damage

View sfhipchick's profile

sfhipchick

54 posts in 10 days


#14 posted 07-18-2017 07:25 AM


This article this might interest gent goes on explaining his method of turning a plywood cigar pen.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Woodturning-a-Plywood-Cigar-Pen/

I want to make a quick point… If you are serious about pen turning start drilling your blanks on the lathe. If you do not have a chuck for lathe get one. The Nova chuck teamed up with their pen jaw set will make your holes much more accurate and overall faster once you start drilling on the lathe especially if when drilling plastic blanks and other specialty ones with out damage

- playingwithmywood

Yes! We have that very Nova chuck and pen jaw set! In fact, I was happily drilling holes just this evening! :) Thank you for the comment! :)

-- Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. ~ Brian Tracy

View Cathie Zimmerman's profile

Cathie Zimmerman

100 posts in 506 days


#15 posted 07-18-2017 07:31 AM

I didn’t even think of that! I use my drill press and a drill press vice. I’d just memorized where the top of the blank has to sit in order for it to be right when I drill. I’ll be checking into getting a drill chuck. As for pressing things together… I’ve just been using my wood vice. Is it really worth it to get that $45 contraption to press it all together?

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