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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Slow Progress

It is getting to be normal lately for me not to feel much like getting online late in the evening when I finally get time to do so. I will try my best to start posting more often. I want to thank those of you who have been sending me emails and messages of concern and well wishes though. I appreciate it very much.
I have been able to get in the shop a little lately. It has not been nearly as much as I would like, but a little.
I made some more of the pen boxes a showed last time. From left to right are rosewood (two of them), oak, pecan, walnut, sapelle, and sycamore.
My buddy Erwin, when he visited recently, left me some live oak burl with all the other wood he'd brought. I love burl. On the rare occasion I'm able to get my hands on some, I just can't wait to turn a pen with it. Turning burl is like opening a Christmas present. You never know what beauty lies beneath the ugly wrapping until you get into it and see for yourself.
Next up, he also brought some spalted pecan. I'd worked with spalting before, and pecan, but never spalted pecan. So I couldn't wait to see this one either.
Then it was on to another curiosity I had, the lignum vitae. This wood has been of interest to me for some time. This is said to be one of the hardest woods in the world. It is a nice looking wood. I think the pen would look better with some accent color added. Since I'd never turned it before though, I decided to leave it plain for the first go around to see how well it worked.
It is an easy wood to work with on the lathe in my opinion. It is hard as people say, but with sharp tools, that makes it easier to turn to a very nice and smooth finish.
I applied finish on this one. I wanted to see how it reacts with finish on it. I was told that it would turn a greenish color in a few weeks without finish. So I have this pen with finish on it, and another piece sanded. I will check back in a few weeks and see which way I like it best.
Also on the visit with Erwin, I got some pointers from him on something else I plan on diving into in the future, segmented turning.
While considering some of the ideas I got from him, I decided to try a couple of rings out of scrap wood just to see how much trouble it would be. This turned into a day long adventure in figuring out why my Incra sled was a half a degree off.
Some of you may be wondering why I am worried about half a degree. That doesn't seem to be a problem. This is wood after all. Well, if you take a half a degree off of each angle, that it one degree per joint. The piece on the right in the above picture has twelve joints. That adds up to twelve degrees. Now, a half a degree may sound like no problem, but twelve degrees is a huge problem. So I had to fix that.
After a whole day of finicky adjustments to my sled, I think I have it dialed into where I want it, and will try to make use of all this in the near future.
Here is another piece that was left that peaked my interest. I am not sure what it is. It was in a variety bag that was bought at one of the stores that I can't remember. I am not sure what it is. It looked, before turning, to be pink died plywood.
It is a pink pen. I think that is all I have to say about that one.
I liked the oak burl pen. Actually, everyone I show it to likes it. Since I plan on keeping that first one for myself, I decided I had better turn another one before someone snatches mine up.
I have now had the opportunity to turn oak burl and cherry burl. Both of them had figure that simply amazed me. I hope I can find a way to acquire different varieties of burl one day. Each time I work with it, the beauty of it just blows me away.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pen Boxes

I've already gotten a couple of emails about how the jig I posted yesterday could possibly have anything to do with making a pen box.
The long piece on the right has knobs underneath to make it adjustable. I put one part of a box in place, tap that clamp block against the part, and tighten the knobs to hold it in place. I have ink pen markings on the jig for several different size boxes. The part on the left, the one you see the knobs on, is an adjustable fence for a router to ride against. Again, I have markings for it to do several different sizes. The pieces that stick out the bottom and top of the jig are also adjustable from underneath. They are stop blocks for where you want the routed holes to start and end.
I am glad to report, I made two boxes today, so I can show you the box style.
I made two boxes. One is made of sapelle and one of sycamore.
They are each made of two pieces of wood. Each piece is six and a half inches long, two and a half inches wide, and three quarters of an inch thick. I set the router to cut three eighths of an inch deep with a three quarter inch bull nose bit. Then I set my jig to route the groove in each piece exactly in the center of each piece, starting and stopping a half inch from the ends.
After making the two pieces on the jig, and marking and predrilling holes for the hinges, I move to my table router, with a quarter inch round over bit, and smooth over the sharp edges. Next I mark and drill a three eighths hole in each piece so I can glue in a magnet on each piece that will hold the box shut. Then, after sanding everything real good, I install the hinges on it. Lastly, on these two at least, I give the whole thing a good rubdown with Johnson's Past Wax.
I like these boxes. I can make them cheaply enough, and easy enough to offer them as an add on item with my pens. I can sell them for ten dollars with a pen order, or a little more if someone wants to buy just a pen box for some reason.
Before starting, I set everything up, including my saws, sander, jig, and table router. With everything set up, I can make up one of these boxes in about thirty minutes. I don't think that is bad considering I plan on offering them with pen orders at a price that I really won't be making anything on them. The idea is for this to be a value added product, with my profits coming from the pens themselves. Later, I hope things go well enough that I can branch out into maybe some fancier boxes that I may actually make a profit on in addition to the pens.
Anyway, these were just two I made a point of getting done today so I could show what they would look like. I've got the hardware to make eight more for now, and will get them done as soon as I can get around to it. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Trailing Behind

Well, as my friends, family, and regular readers know, my granddaughter was born on the twenty fifth of last month. Since then, so much has been going on around here that by the time the day is through, I haven't felt up to the Internet, or the shop, or pretty much anything but going to bed. To make a long story short, what follows is all that I have done as far the shop goes since the day the baby was born.
Erwin, and his wife, visited my shop. I know Erwin from one of my wood working groups. He and his wife was passing through all the way from their home in Fort Myers, Florida.
I always love visits from people, especially fellow wood workers. Erwin, and his lovely wife, are what we call around these parts, good people. I hope they both feel welcome enough to stop again if they ever pass this way again.
You all know how much I have been blessed with different woods from all over for my turning obsession I have fallen in to. Erwin brought me some beautiful wood from his shop. There is so much that I can't remember them all sitting here at the computer. I know there is plenty of rosewood, tulip wood, lace wood, and a lot of others. The ones that have really caught my eye though are the different pieces of burl and spalted wood in the mix. I can't wait to see how some of these turn out on the lathe.
This is a jig I've worked on a tiny bit at a time. I mean I've had to make a cut here, drill a hole there. I should have been able to whip this together in an hour or two. Instead it has taken close to two weeks.
The jig is fully adjustable for running a router on for some pen boxes I plan on making. That in itself is a long story. To shorten it, I've taken parts of several different designs I've seen and am trying to come up with something I can do quickly and easily. Later I plan on branching out into fancier boxes. For now though, I want to make something I can offer to pen buyers at a cheap price to go along with pens they buy as gifts. However, I want to keep time and cost low enough that it will be something worthwhile for people to get. This helps me out because, in the future, I hope to sell more pens online. Wrapping these boxes for shipping will be quicker and easier than the makeshift packaging techniques I've been using.
Here is the first test piece. With some fine tuning, and another jig for hinge replacement, these will make for some nice, but cheap to sell, boxes. They will be held closed with magnets. I hope I can show you a better example real soon.
That's it. It isn't much for a couple of weeks is it? Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I hope to get more shop time soon. When I do, I'll be sure to post my latest ramblings.