Best sizes for pen blanks?

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Forum topic by derosa posted 03-28-2012 03:22 PM 1270 views 1 time favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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1572 posts in 2801 days

03-28-2012 03:22 PM

I just scored a bunch of applewood from the local orchards and I’m starting to cut it up. There always seems to be some demand for pen blanks and I figured I cut some up for that purpose. What are the best sizes for making the blanks? I just cut a dozen squares 1×1x6. Also I’ve heard of drying pen blanks in the microwave in three rounds of 15 minutes on defrost with a hour wait between rounds. Is this the best way to dry them? I have a spare microwave which makes SWMBO happy. Or is it better to just wax coat them and ship them wet?

With cutting it is there any preference? Most of the wood is fairly straight so I can cut directly with the grain, the outer parts darken to look like cherry to some extent. The heartwood is completely a different color and still really hard till I get to the center so I assume it would still work. Maybe some pieces that have hart and sap wood. Would people want pieces that cut diagonally or straight across the trunks for more mixing or grain variation.

Also any recommendations on price? I was thinking 2.00 a blank, I know apple is hard to get and expensive at the local specialty hardwoods but I’m not trying to get rich either. But since I have to cut the tree down, mill it up on my 12” bandsaw and I really need an air cleaner I’d like to make something off of them.

Examples of what apple looks like wet

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

1 reply so far

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386 posts in 2591 days

#1 posted 03-28-2012 03:46 PM

1×1x6 will do about any pen you want to turn. I usually cut blanks to 7/8”, so 1” just gives you a little more to turn away.

I have dried blanks in a microwave. 15 seconds defrost or medium power, 30 minute rest. I have also used an oven on low heat for 5 minutes.

If you have a light scale, weight the blank before you microwave it each time and after it comes out. When the blank stops loosing weight, it is as dry as you can get with a microwave.

Warning: Microwaving will make some blanks brittle. Acacias (Koa & Mimosa) and woods with a high silica content will build a lot of heat in a microwave. This causes them to crack or be brittle.

-- The more I work with wood the more I recognize only God can make something as beautiful as a tree. I hope my humble attempts at this craft do justice by His masterpiece. -- Tim

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