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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Good To Be Back

I typed the following post up several days ago. There has been some kind of technical issue with the blog provider though that has prevented me from posting.

Well I’m back, and boy does it feel good to have something to actually show. It isn’t much, but today was the most I’ve done in the shop in weeks. This post is actually more than just today’s work. I’ve fiddled around a little here and there the last few weeks, just not enough for a post. So here goes.
Here is, or was, my pen display stand. It was simply a dressed up piece of sapelle with some proper sized holes drilled into it that the pens were inserted in. This held them upright so they could be seen. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was showing them to a friend one day though and noticed something horrifying. The finish on the metal end that sticks in the wood was messed up on some of the pens. From what I can figure, it was just the sharp edges of the holes wearing on them as the pens were removed and replaced numerous times when people take them out to look at. So I had to come up with something better.
I was pondering this things for days when one day I seen one of my sons drawing. He is the artist one of the bunch and has this fancy pencil set he got for his last birthday. Anyway, looking at the way the pencils were neatly arranged in their case gave me an idea.
I took strips of sycamore and routed a groove in them with a three quarter inch router bull nose bit, and cut these strips into short sections. Then I glued those sections to three pieces of plywood and built a sapelle frame around it all to make a display so the pens could lay neatly in it all, much like the arrangement in my son’s art set.
I made the second and third rows a little higher than the ones in front of them so it rose upwards as it goes back. This, in my opinion, just presented the pens better to someone standing in front of the display looking at all of them.

Sometime last week, my brother gave me a long section of corian counter top material. I really didn’t need a counter top, but I thought it would look nice at the front of my shop where I keep my coffee pot. At least it would look better than the old beat up table that had been there. Also, I immediately seen this material and wondered if I could turn a pen with it. So one of my older sons helped me install the counter top, and I was able to cut off some of it to save for pens.
Next, I got a request from a friend for another pen just like the multiwood pens I made a while back. Well I set out to make that, only to realize I was out of a couple of the material types to make another one just like it. Actually, I wasn’t completely out, just low enough that I couldn’t cut it up to make it exactly the same. One of the wood species I only had one small strip of. So I set my mind to work trying to figure out how to make a pen using the same material, make it interesting, and very different.
I started gluing the seven types of material together. Then I cut it, flipped one side, and glued it back together. After that dried, I cut it again, flipped one side, and glued again. After multiple days of allowing glue to dry, cutting, flipping, and gluing again, I came up with something interesting.
All I can say about this is, it is interesting.
I will have to wait until I can contact my friend to see if this fits the bill on what he wanted. If not, I’ll have to go back to the drawing board.

So, remember the corian pen?
 Well, since my brother gave me that material, I gave him that first pen. That meant I had to make another one. I had learned a couple of things about turning corian on the other one.
For one thing, I learned that a scraper cuts it better than a gouge. Just hold the edge at a downward angle and it cuts the corian rather than scrape, and leaves a much smoother finish than actual cutting tools.
Next thing I learned was that you need to wear snug fitting safety glasses, not just a face shield, when working with corian. This stuff floats around in the air more than wood and is hell to get out of your eyes.
And finally,
I learned to keep my shop brush nearby. This stuff sticks to everything like it’s magnetized to it. A brush is required to get it off. You can swipe away at it and it’ll get airborne and stick right back to whatever it was on to start with.
It is fun to work with though.
So I turned another one to replace the one I gave my brother.
And I made a fat one without the center ring.
Next I turned a one piece purple heart pen. At least this was bought from my hardwood supplier as purple heart. I realized today though that I have three different pieces of purple heart that look nothing alike. I’m not sure if this means they are not all purple heart or if they are just from different trees and therefore look different. Either way, they look pretty, so it’s alright.
I was looking through my blanks for something else, and came across this interesting looking piece of bocote, and wanted to turn it.
Since I was on a roll, and while looking through those blanks, I ran across this forgotten piece of spalted something. I call it spalted something because all I know about it is that is has a beautiful spalted pattern on it. I have no idea what kind of wood it is though. This came off a larger piece of wood that has this for sapwood, and heart wood that looks like mahogany. I have yet to find anyone who can definitely identify it with certainty. So I’m calling it mystery wood. This piece I’m calling a spalted something pen.
Just before Father’s Day, I talked to my buddy Dave about a marking knife. He refused payment, and brought me two of them that he forged himself. I made handles for them out of sapelle.
Well that’s all for now. I was down, but not out. During the time I was down and not able to do much, I was steadily plotting and planning, and gluing up in the case of one of the pens, for my return. Some of you who know me know that even when I’m down, my mind is still working on that next project. It keeps me going. Now I just hope I can stay in the shop for a while without any more down time. Too much down time depresses me. I’d rather be making something besides just plans.

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