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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Run Down

I have been staying busy, busy, busy.
I have been so busy that I haven't felt like posting when I finish each day. So for this post I am going to just do a run down of much of what I've been turning lately. Unfortunately, I may miss some because I am feeling run down as well. So "The Run Down" seemed like a very appropriate title for this blog entry.
I decided to try the bolt action pens I've seen so much of. They are some very nice kits. Since deer hunting is so big in this area, I made the first one with deer antler. This started something. You'll see more about that later.
These pens feature a rifle clip, bolt action retracting mechanism, and a thirty caliber bullet tip.
This one is done with deer antler and twenty four carat hardware.
The starter set for this pen came with two kits. Since I done the first one in tulip wood, which I felt would look nice for the ladies, I done this one in padauk, something I felt would look good for men or women.
The care package from Ms. Clause a while back contained this kit for an over and under shotgun pen. This one is a fountain pen. I made it with african blackwood and lignum vitae.

Here is another flip stylus pen.
This one is done with cherry burl. If you'll notice the lighter spot towards the cap end, that was where I had a major blowout that left a hole all the way to the brass tube. Sometimes these unfortunate events allow you to make something even more interesting. I filled the hole using saw dust and CA glue.
This is a credit card stylus pen.
It is done with lignum vitae and walnut. The lines were done by trying to work on a pattern I seen somewhere online.
I liked the design enough that I decided to go overboard with it and do it at regular spaces down the length of this flip stylus pen.
Again, I had a blowout and decided to think of a way to fix it, and add interest. So I parted off the blown out area and glued on a short section of vera wood. I like how this turned out and may even do this on purpose from time to time.
Here is a credit card stylus pen in walnut burl.
Here's two more credit card stylus pens. Some of you know I have a liking for the Celtic knots. So I had to do a couple of them on some of these.
The top one is mulberry and walnut. The bottom one is ziricote and box elder.
This is called a buffalo pencil. I was intrigue by them when I seen them in the parts catalogue and decided to order a few.
This one is done in buckeye burl.
About this time the Christmas gift requests had started rolling in.
These are dyed maple pens. These were requested and I thought it was a good time to experiment with a couple of different techniques I've read about online for dying pen blanks.
I had no luck at all getting satisfactory results with diluted acrylic paints like I read in several articles. These were dyed using RIT clothes dye.
If anyone is interested in the process, let me know and I'll be glad to sit down sometimes and write a post dedicated to this subject.
I made multiple .45-70 deer antler pens. You may remember me mentioning earlier that the use of antler started something? Antler seems to be a very popular request this year. Since you'll get tired of it pretty quickly, I'll try not to show every antler pen I have turned lately.
I made several of these in .45-70, and we'll leave it at that.
Did I mention that antler has become a popular request?
I've done a lot of these lately, all in antler.
The hardware, starting from the left in pairs, is antique brass, chrome, 24k, and gun metal.
My next door neighbor is a teacher. So a teacher's pen is a very good gift for her.
I had this short piece of zebra wood. It was too short for much, and I remembered that I wanted to try adding accents like I done earlier to fix a mistake. So here is is with ziricote on the end on a flip stylus pen.
These chain pulls are all three made the same, so I'm only showing one of each type of wood.
The top one is blood wood and the bottom one is purple heart.
A friend wanted this set. This is a gun metal Vertex pen and pencil set done in blood wood with an african blackwood accent ring on each.
Here is another over and under shotgun pen. The body is blood wood and the cap is walnut burl done with a gun metal kit.
This pen was a challenge. It is the over and under shotgun pen done completely in deer antler. I was talking to a fellow about doing this very thing. He told me that it couldn't be done because the cap piece is so thin on this pen. The cap uses a blank that has a 9/16" hole drilled through the middle. I will admit that I blew out three pieces of antler before successfully drilling one. Then I was sweating bullets while turning it so thin on the lathe.
Ok, I actually uploaded a few more photos. The Internet is acting pretty nutty though if I try to add anymore to this post.
Does that mean that I broke the Internet with so many photos? Anyway, I may have overloaded a few readers too. So I guess I'll end this post here.
I guess you can see why I am feeling run down?
Until next time my friends, happy turning!  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Helping A Friend

Since I first got into working with wood, I have found fellow wood workers to be the most generous lot of folks. So many have helped me along the path to what I am able to do today in so many different ways. Because of this, I feel honored whenever I can help one of those fellow wood workers in any way that I am able.
All that being said, I was recently contacted by a friend and fellow wood worker about a project he needed help with.
Some of you may remember the box joint machine from way back. Well it has cut many joints for me. My friend has a project that he needed box joints cut for. With time of the essence, he just doesn't have the proper tool for the job. So I was hoping I could help him. The plan was for him to ship me the pieces of wood, because the specific pieces of wood are important to this particular project, and I would cut box joints and ship them back to him.
I cut the dark wood first, walnut I believe, and I am glad I did. It showed a problem right away. I have never had tear out with the box joint machine as long as I use a scrap piece of wood to back up the material being cut. I done that here, but still got tear out. I simply cannot explain it. The only explanation I can possibly think of is that, as I understand it, this wood is very old. I know that sometimes old wood can be extremely dry. With walnut being a somewhat brittle wood to start with, this overly dry condition may be causing the problem.
Again, this specific wood is important to this project. I could not cut any off and try again. Besides, I'm not sure trying again would yield different results. I tried with a fresh piece of walnut and did not have this issue. So it has to be this particular wood. So I thought for a bit for a solution.
This is what I came up with.
When you cut box joints, you sometimes come up with your last finger on each end of the board being cut a tad narrower on one side. This is due to the adding up of the many fingers not working out to be exactly the same as the width of the board.
Ordinarily, I would flip the board end to end and have this thinner finger on the same side of each board. As I was thinking though, this would put any potential tear out on the walnut board on the inside on some boards, and on the outside on other boards. However, if I flipped the boards around, this would make it possible to put any and all tear out on the inside of the box. The issue is that this would make the boxes only able to go together one way, and one way only.
With all that being said, I wanted to be sure to avoid any confusion of my friend reassembling the pieces once they arrive back to him.
So on the inside of each corner, on each board, I marked corresponding marks to go back together.
One box is labeled on both side of each corner, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D.
The other is 2A, 2B, 2C, and 2D.
This makes it possible to easily reassemble everything without problems. All my friend has to do is match corresponding numbers and then lightly sand off the lightly marked pencil marks.
Of course, as with all thin material box joints I've ever had the pleasure of making, it'll probably be necessary to do some creative gluing and clamping to pull the joints up tight upon assembly. Other than that, they'll just require a little finish sanding to pretty them up.
I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my friend that I was not able to get this project done without having some tear out. I tried my best. I done all this though so the tear out is on the inside of the box. With some creative sanding, I honestly believe you can still complete this so that no one will ever notice the tear out without looking for it.
Here are the two boxes assembled.
I will get them disassembled and packaged up. Then I will drop them back in the mail tomorrow if I can beat the mail lady to the box. If not, they will be going out first thing Friday.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More Turning Adventures

If you remember the stylus flip pens I made several days ago, I needed to make a couple of more for a friend, and he likes the Celtic knots I have glued up in the past. So that was the plan. However, there is a lot of waiting when gluing up the Celtic knots. So I always try to stay busy on something else while waiting on glue to set.
I love my economy chuck from Penn State. I love it so much that I have it on good authority (since I'm the one who placed the order) that I'll be getting another one for Christmas. The reason I want another one is that, when doing bowls, it is a pain to have to remove the jaws to put on the flat jaws so I can remove the tenon and finish the bottom. I have been thinking for a while how nice it would be to have a second chuck to just spin on quickly.
Here is the link to the one I just ordered.
Anyway, back to what I was working on in between gluing strips in for Celtic knots.
Here is my flat jaws. They do the job, but do have their limitations. The maximum diameter bowl that can be held with them is about eight inches. I knew there had to be a way to hold larger bowls. So I done some searching and found this. If you click on the link, you'll see it is an extension for the flat jaws that allows you to hold larger items.
It looks like a great idea. There was just one problem. I was just about to submit my order for the extensions when I noticed in the description that they are made of plastic. I'm not saying anything is wrong with the product. Personally though, seeing as how I love making my own stuff anyway, I just cannot bring myself to spend forty bucks on something like that made of plastic if I think I can make it myself. It is just plastic with some holes in it, right?
Also, since I have decided to make it myself anyway, I thought about correcting another little issue I've always disliked about my jaws, and pretty much every other set of jaws I've seen on the market. With these straight, rather stiff, rubber mounting pins you have to have a pretty good grip on bowls if you don't want them to go flying. As a matter of fact, I have cracked two bowls that I can remember by having to tighten down on them too hard. There had to be a better way. So I made a trip to town to see what concoctions I could come up with.
So, here is the plastic jaw extensions I made. They are made of three eighths inch thick plexi-glass. I know, some of you are already thinking I am crazy. It is well balanced though and these will only be ran on the slowest speed setting. All you use these for is to finish off the bottom of bowls after you have done everything else.
If I have any issues with them down the road, I'll be sure to let you all know so you'll know not to go this route. Until then though, I don't foresee any problems with this setup.
For the mounting pin solution, I found some rubber stopper plugs in the specialty drawers at Home Depot. I drilled quarter inch holes through the middle of them. Then I threaded bolts through them, then through the plastic plates, and hold them on with nuts on the back side.
I like these enough that I am going to buy more, and find out the thread size, so I can add the same thing to my regular jaws without the extensions. These are longer. They have an angle to them that can be adapted to accept any shaped bowl you decide to make. Also, while firm, they are soft enough (softer than the factory pins) that you can tighten the nuts if you need to make them bulge more to hold the bowl more firmly instead of putting the brute force of the chuck into play.
I made my Celtic knot glue ups for two pen blanks while I was doing all this. Then I started drilling to make pens. This photo shows the biggest drawback to making such glue ups. You never know how well, or how bad, things will turn out. This one didn't even make it off the drill press before blowing out.
It's a good thing I don't give up that easily though. I had to glue up another one.
I made one with ziricote and box elder.
And another one with hedge apple and walnut.
Next up.
Some of you may remember the spinning top kit that was in the Ms. Clause care package from a while back. I turned the top you see in the far left of the above photo out of rosewood. Well that started something.
Ever since I turned that turner, my kids have to look at it everyday. They get me to give it a spin on the table any chance they get. So this set my planning wheels into full spin.
My kids all want one of these tops. I told them they can't have one though. My excuse? I told them about how the hardware for this nifty little kit is plated with gold. Now why would you give a kid a top with gold plated hardware to play with? No. This is a man's toy. It is something you put on a desk at work as a conversation piece. That's what I tell them.
So here is where I am at. Each of my kids are going to get a spinning top for Christmas. What can make it better though? What about this? I turn them all, set them out in plain site, tell them they are "for sale", and then come over to wrap them on Christmas eve after they've gone to bed. I think they are going to love these, but also hate me a little for putting them through this.
Now for the details of the other three tops.
This one is beech between two layers of purple heart.
This one is beech between two layers of lace wood.
By the time I got to turning this one, I had given up on any resemblance of design and just started having fun with the turning; sort of making it up as I went along.
This last one is two strips of cherry with zebra wood between them, then blood wood on both sides of that.
I called this one rolling low. As I was making it up as I went, I didn't realize until I finished it and made a test spin just how low this one would look while spinning. I think I like this one the best.
When I made the civil war pen a while back, everyone liked it. If you remember it, you'll remember that I used box elder burl on it. So on this one, with the same chrome plating on the hardware, I decided to use another piece of box elder that I had. This one isn't burl, but it had something else I liked about it.
I had to show another shot of it to show you though.
This piece looks kind of plain looking at one side of the pen. As you roll it around though, a pretty pink hue presents itself on the other side of the wood.
That left me with only the gun metal hardware civil war pen. I was thinking about what wood would go well with it. I decided to use one of my personal favorites for it, oak burl.
Well that is several of my days I've shown you at once here. My regular readers just have to bare with me this time of year though. With Christmas fast approaching, I stay as busy as I can. Between trying to make things that will sell and making a few gift items for family and friends, I can never seem to catch my breath during the holidays. I will post when I can.
Until next time, happy turning!