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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Back To Basics

As for the title of this blog, I had to get back to basics while turning the last couple of days. Before I get to that though, I want to get the one pen for this blog entry out of the way.
This is made from one of the pen blanks I bought on my recent trip to Pickens Hardwoods. I talked about that in my last blog entry.
I was excited to turn this because it was labeled as spalted lemon wood. I usually love spalting, so I wanted to see what it looked like. Spalting is like burls, it's always a surprise as to how they are going to turn out. Well this one was really a surprise, but not the kind of surprise I was hoping for. From start to finish, I found no spalting in this wood at all. So it is just lemon wood, minus any spalting. I only payed fifty cents a piece for two blanks, so I am not too bummed out by it.
Now for the back to basics.
What you see here are my bowl tools. I have a few others, like my depth drill and such, but these are the ones designed for actually working the wood. Some are made by me. Some are bought. However, while turning a bowl the other day I got a little frustrated. I just could not get a clean finishing cut on the inside of a bowl I was turning. I tried the Oland tool at every possible way and direction I could think of. I had done it before, but it was a different type wood than I'd done it in and it just wasn't working out like I had planned. I sharpened the tool and tried again. I tried cleaning it up with very light passes with a scraper. Nothing I tried seemed to give me the results I would be happy with though.
So I sat with a cup of coffee and thought about this for a moment. That's when the thought came to me that I didn't have this problem in the past with this same wood. I had turned it before. So what was different? The only thing that was different was that I was stubbornly insisting on using these new tools that I had made myself.
So the answer to my problem was to get back to the basics that I had learned when I first started studying and learning to turn any bowls. All those tools, whether bought or made, are nice to have for those different circumstances. When it comes down to it though, there just is no substitute, in my opinion, for a good detail gouge and a skew chisel for getting clean cuts.
If any of you are reading this and thinking of learning to turn, let me offer a bit of advice that I have learned, at least for me.
There are all kinds of tools. There are oland tools, hook tools, hollowing tools of all shapes and sizes, carbide, and a host of other ways to hollow bowls. I even seen a guy hollow a bowl once using nothing but a diamond shaped parting tool. If you want good clean cuts though without burnishing or catches though, learn to sharpen and use a gouge.
Next, on the outside of the bowl, or any spindle type work, if you can't get a clean cut with a sharp tool, even a gouge, a skew chisel will make quick work of it. For the longest time, I was scared to death of the skew. The skew, to me, was just a quick way to ruin anything I was trying to do. One day, I decided to just throw a piece of scrap on the lathe and not stop until I could use a skew, and boy am I glad I did. There are times that there is no better tool for the job than the skew. If you don't know how to use one, there is no other way to learn it besides practice.
This bowl I turned really just to test how the power sanding attachments I've been talking so much about worked on small bowls. I knew I wasn't going to be able to easily get the direction I wanted inside this bowl while power sanding. So I wanted to see how that was going to work out. I was worried it would leave radial lines much like on a pen that one has either skipped grits on or failed to sand the length of after sanding with the lathe running. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. With a little tilting back and forth with the drill, it did a great job on this little piece of sapelle.
I felt I was finally ready to turn this piece that I've been holding back on. I was wanting to build my confidence a bit before tackling this chunk of rosewood because I just knew I would cry like a baby if I messed it up.
This was from a six inch square chunk of rosewood that a friend gave me a while back when he visited my shop. I know there are many, many turners out there that could have done a better job than I with it, but I am quite proud of myself with the results.
This one did not turn out being what I originally intended it to be. It was a two inch thick piece of six inch square lacewood. I intended to turn a shallow bowl. Midway through though, with the size and shape, I remembered a wooden ash tray I had seen somewhere and remembered that I had thought how much I would love to have one. Well this presented a perfect opportunity for me to do just that. It was the right size. So I used my tailstock to hold a scrap piece against the top of the bowl. Then I turned it down to the same as the sides of the bowl and use a drill and forstner bit to drill holes with the point where the bowl and scrap block met. Then I finished turning it.
Well that is all I have to show today.
Till next time, happy turning.

Monday, October 28, 2013


If you have been reading my blog, you probably already know that I have a major liking for burls, and I got the chance for this post to work with some new ones.
First though, I'll get a couple of problems I've been dealing with out of the way.
When turning bowls, I've been having a hard time with sanding, especially on the end grain. I've read and watched videos online about power sanding and wanted to give it a try. I've had in my mind several different ways to make my own. However, on a recent trip to Jackson, Mississippi, I stopped by Harbour Freight and seen the above little doohickeys and thought it was the perfect opportunity to try the method out before going through the trouble of making them. These are rather cheaply made, but I figured they would hold up long enough for me to see if I like the outcome of power sanding using a drill.
I have tried sanding end grain on cypress before and knew it is always a bear to do. So I thought it would be a good test of the power sanding method. I decided to make my wife a cypress flower pot, since cypress is known to hold up good to the elements.
The flower pot turned out great using the power sanding attachments in a hand held drill. The end grain was just as smooth as the rosewood bowl I recently done. The difference is, I sanded for two minutes on the cypress flower pot, while I sanded for over two hours on the rosewood bowl.
My next problem I worked on recently was my pen display. I show my pens to lot of people. The problem was, with them sitting out in the open in a wood shop, they always stayed extremely dusty. It's kind of embarrassing to be showing someone a pen and have to wipe each and every one they ask about of all the dust, all the while apologizing for the messy look of them all.
So I used some oak, sapelle, and plexiglass to make a cover for the pen display. This allows them to be seen and still be covered so I can see that they're not being messed with at a distance. Yes, I have had some grow legs and walk off on their own when they were lying out in the open. Also, it keeps dust off of the pens. When someone is interested in them, I can easily go and pick the cover straight off of the display so they can look at nice, clean, pens.
The last problem I ran into recently was with my newly acquired pen mill. I don't know what I am not "getting", but I just hate the thing. After forty bucks and a good resharpening, you would think it would leave the ends of my pen blanks nice, clean, and square. That just is not the case. Yes, it squares the blanks. That is about all I can say about it. The end grain tears up though and leaves a terrible look between the two halves of a finished pen. It may work great for folks who use the center rings to break things up. I make almost all my pens these days though without center bands and must have a very clean end on the blanks. So, I am still using the mill for squaring up blanks that are badly out of square. However, once they are square and a majority of the extra material removed, I move back to my shop made sanding jig that has never failed me yet to leave crisp ends.
Yes, I will have to keep up that recurring cost of sand paper for it, but it is worth it to me to keep my pens looking good.
My wife got a day off recently and we took a trip to Jackson. I had told her that I wanted to carry her to my "heaven on earth", Pickens Hardwoods. Well, we pulled up to the place where they usually have me drooling before I even get in the door good, to find out that it is now a metal and welding shop. I was so disappointed. It turns out, they had moved from their location in Clinton to further north in Jackson. The thing is though, we had to get back home before kids got home from school, so I could not take her to show her why I liked Pickens so much.
I think my wife would tell how disappointed I was that I didn't even get the chance to pick up a couple of cheap pen blanks from Pickens like I'd planned, so the next day she talked me heading back towards Jackson and checking out their new location.
As usual, I was not disappointed. There is a reason I call that place my heaven on earth. Although I can't possibly think of ever affording some of them, that place has just about ever type of wood you can think of from all reaches of the world. If I was not an honest man, I may think of grabbing what bowl blanks I could carry in that place and making a run for the door.
Alright, I admit it. I have thought about it, but would never act on such a devious act.
Besides the zebra wood and blood wood board I bought, I also emptied my wallet, and even got a few more dollars from my wife (about forty dollars more to be exact) buying pen blanks, in burls.
This first one is called amboyna burl.
I had never heard of this. The tag said it was shipped from Cambodia. At ten bucks for a set of two short pieces, enough for one pen, I was a little hesitant about even buying this one, but I just couldn't help it. I kept being drawn back to it from across the room. Even before turning, the wood had so many twists and turns in the grain that my eyes just got lost in it.
Needless to say, this pen did not go in my pen display. I took pictures of it and put it with my own personal pens. I would love to get some more of these blanks one day. Until then though, this one is mine.
This one is redwood root burl. The blank, before turning, actually looked rather plain. It was burl though, so I had to give it a try.
If you look real closely at this photograph, you can see the gap between the two halves of the pen. This is the condition I described earlier with using the pen mill. It was too late to do anything about this pen, but it was, and will be, the last pen I finish off with the pen mill. I'd rather use my old sanding jig and be assured of having clean lines.
Next is myrtle wood burl. Again, this one was kind of a mystery from looking at the blank, but a burl nonetheless. I love the way it turned out though.
Ok, that's the last of the burls, but I still have a few more pens from the Picken's purchase.
This one is black palm. You may notice that, while I stick with the same basic shape on all my pens, the back end of this one is much more slender than usual. The reason for that is tear out. This wood, while a most interesting looking wood, tears out way too easily. There was a point while turning this one that I was not sure I was going to be able to save it. It did not just tear out a few stands of grain. Whole hunks along the length of the grain would suddenly tear off and go flying. I backed off with the gouge and used a skew chisel to finish it up to what you see here. With the skew, I was able to slice it off cleaner without so much tear out.
This last one is called Texas ebony. I got it because I am always, for some reason, drawn to the darker woods. As a matter of fact, woods such as this one with the almost black look, have my attention from the start. This wood also was quite hard, which allowed me to buff it out to a nice shine before ever putting on a finish. The finish is just for protection. It had plenty enough of a gloss to it when it was just bare wood.
I also got a couple of piece of spalted lemon wood. At fifty cents a blank, I couldn't pass those up. I bought a three foot length of zebra wood and blood wood. I had no intended purpose for them, but they were in the sale pile because of some tiny imperfections in them. I just had to take them home. I am afraid I have turned the few burls blanks I got though. It always goes that way with me and burl wood. I just can't wait to get them on the lathe and see what surprises hide underneath the usually ugly exterior.
Until next time, happy turning.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Home Brews

If you read my last blog entry, you probably remember seeing the above tool. It is a tool sold by Penn State to hold router bits. It is a good idea that did not work too well for me. Well I took that tool and used it for the basis for an Oland type tool.
When I posted it, a friend suggested modifying this design to protrude a bit out at an angle. I thought it was a great idea and it got the wheels in the old noggin to turning.
It was suggested to drill a hole, split the end, and use a nut and bolt to tighten the split sides around the bit, holding it firmly in place. I thought this sounded like an easy way to do it since I did not have the proper tap to make neat little holes for set screws like you see in the factory made piece. So off again I went to town to see what I could come up with.
First thing I done was stop by Hayden's, my favorite hardware store. I like the place because it's one of the few places left in town that still has that friendly, hometown feel. You walk in the door. People ask you can they help. Ok, that's normal. The difference is that these people are actually extremely knowledgeable in what they sell and know where everything you need is located in the store. I'll take that over the endless scavenger hunt at the big orange store any day of the week.
I apologize for that little side track. Let's get back to the project at hand, tools.
I figured that tapping holes to hold the bits was going to be something way out of my price range. After discussing it with the man at Hayden's, I realized that it was going to cost me less than five dollars for the tap, the proper drill bit for the tap, and a palm full of the proper sized set screws. So I decided that this was going to be the way to go. This eliminated the need to have that extra pinch length out past where the bit would protrude out.
Next, I needed steele to make the bar from. I was thinking half inch, but the only half inch they had was something the salesman told me was extremely mild steele that would bend easily. He sold me on some five eighths cold roll steele to get the job done.
So back to the shop.
Here is how the business end of the tool turned out.
There is just something I love about making my own tools. I think it is that ability to say, "this thing I made, I made it using a tool that, guess what, I made that too". It never hurts that it also usually saves me a lot of money in the process too. It is just a great pleasure to me to make my own tools when I get the opportunity.
I liked the new angle when I tested it on a scrap piece. Then I thought it would be nice to have a tool with the tip protruding straight out at a ninety degree angle. So I made that as well. After all, since the five eighths steele was only sold in forty eight inch lengths minimum, I had some extra stock.
Speaking of that extra stock......
While I was making the second tool, I was thinking about the first tool. I thought I could reverse the bit and cut sharp upper corners in vessels or bowls by having the bit angles forty five degrees back towards the handle. Since I still had enough stock left over after making the second tool though, why not just make a third tool that would do just what I was thinking about. This eliminates having to have the end of my set screw riding on the tool rest, which is something I really don't like to do.
So here are the ends of the four Oland type tools I now have. Of course the first one came from Penn State, but the other three I made. I tested them first with just the bar. I wanted to see how they performed before making handles. I love how they work and now just needed to turn some handles.
The top one, the top one, has a pecan handle. I used pecan on it because I just happened to have grabbed a piece of pecan earlier when I was testing the tools. So I figured that, instead of wasting that piece of nice wood, I may as well turn off my test cuts and make it into a usable handle.
The next two have sapelle handles. I love the look and feel of sapelle. Also, I have a lot of it.
The bottom one is the Penn State tool and has the factory handle on it. One of these days I think I'm going to redo all the handles on my factory made tools just so I'll have handles that are made by me.
The tools are different lengths. I done this for a reason. It is hard to tell from the photo, but from handle end to cutting end, they are made so that the actually cutting point is the same distance on all four tools. I like to keep it this way because I already knew that this distance was comfortable to me on the tool made be Penn State. There's no sense in messing with what works.
Not all of my home made brews work out just like I want them too. Some time back, some of you who read my blog regularly may remember that I went through several solutions to squaring pen blanks. I was determined not to spend the money on a pen mill when I could make something to do the job just as good.
Well, the set up I had, using stick on sandpaper on a setup on my second lathe was actually working without any problems. The problem is that the sandpaper wore out fairly quickly. I'd move the paper around on the disk it stuck to often to get fresh abrasive. I happen to think about it recently though and figured up how much sandpaper I'd bought since starting with this setup. What I had already spent on it would have already bought me two pen mills, and it was was going to be a recurring cost.
So I decided to admit defeat on this one and order a pen mill set. Here is a link to this one. I ordered it from Penn State. I chose the steele cutter over the carbide because I've heard some people complain that the two cutter design of the carbide, versus four on the steele, can cause splitting and catching on hard woods. I seen where this could be highly possible, and since I do like to work with a wide variety of materials, settled on the steele set.
It arrived promptly, as I've come to always expect from Penn State. I've never had a single complaint when ordering from that company.
I immediately tested it out and liked it better over my old shop made system, except for one thing. The instructions say to use it in a drill or drill press along with a pen vice. If you click the link above and read the instructions for the tool, you can see a photo on the instructions that makes no sense to me. If you clamp a blank in the pen vice on your drill press, and the tube is straight enough so that you can run this pen mill down the middle with no issues, then you really have no need for a pen mill because your tube is already perfectly squared to your blank. Also, when I tried using it in a drill press, it grabbed too much for my liking.
I hit the cutting edges a couple of time with a sharpening stone and then tried squaring a blank with the pen mill and the blank being held in each hand. It worked great this way. So I decided that I'd be using this as a hand held tool. To do this comfortably though, I needed a handle on it. There is just not much to grab ahold to on the cutting shafts behind the squaring cutter.
While thinking about how I wanted to do this, I thought of this little doohickey. This is an extension shaft for a spade bit. The cutting shafts all fit perfectly in the end of this tool and tighten down using the set screws. I just needed one because this one is one I use all the time. Luckily, when I went to town to get the parts for the tools I showed earlier, they had these extension shafts at Hayden's for less than three bucks.
So I just needed to turn a handle and use epoxy to attach it to the extension shaft. This allowed me to hold onto the tool, while still being able to swap out cutting shafts for different pen kits.
For the handle, I started to use sapelle. Then I remembered this piece of oak burl a friend had given me a while back. This particular piece had a bad crack right down the middle. I was worried about it blowing apart if I tried turning it thin enough for a pen. It was a perfect piece though for this small tool handle. Oak burl, in my opinion, is really too nice a piece to be used for a tool handle, but I just couldn't help myself. I do love the look of oak burl.
I love oak burl enough that I just had to show you all one more photo so you can see the other side.
So till next time, happy turning.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Lathe

I try my best to come up with catchy little titles for my blog posts. Sometimes though, I just can't think of anything that does not sound over the top corny. So I decided to title this one simply, the lathe.
As such, let's talk about my lathe. Recently I realized that I was extremely unhappy with the height of my lathe. I was turning a small bowl that I needed to see inside of for those final light passes when it occurred to me, this is why my back is giving me problems after turning small bowls. I was stooping at an uncomfortable position to be able to see inside my work. This made me also think of other operations that made me have to stoop. It was clear that either my lathe had to come up, or I had to get shorter. Since I had no intention of cutting my legs.....
I built an eight and a half inch riser frame under the lathe stand and bolted the stand to the frame using half inch lag bolts. I added strips across the bottom and had my sons move these huge pieces of marble under it that we brought back from my Grandpa's place in north Georgia earlier this year. This added a lot of stability. I checked it and was much happier with this height. The lathe bed is even with my elbows. I can work comfortably without stopping or reaching up in any uncomfortable positions.
While I was at it, I decided to make a couple of other modifications.
The middle supports for my lathe stand were just there. I mean, they really served no purpose besides keeping the legs from buckling, which I didn't see happening anyway. So I thought I should make use of that space. So I added a shelf with sides and ends that extend up two and a half inches. This gives me somewhere to put small tools I'm using while turning any given project. This is much better than my previous method, which was to lay it on the lathe bed and forget about it until I hear it hit the floor. Then I would usually have to get down into the floor and retrieve whatever it was that I had just lost in a nearby pile of shavings.
This took care of things except for one more aggravation I'd been having. A lot of projects usually require the use of more than one cutting tool. I would turn around to my accessory table, replace whatever tool I was using, and retrieve the one I needed. Then later I would usually go back for the first tool. This happened back and forth quite often. It would be nice to keep whatever few tools I used for any given project right on the lathe stand. So you may notice the angles wooden pieces at each end of my lathe now. Each of these has four holes one inch in diameter in them to drop tools I am using into. The one on the left end of the front are for most spindle type projects. The one on the other end I use when I sometimes stand at the back of the lathe while hollowing small bowls. I know some of you may tell me it's wrong to work at the back of my lathe, but it's what is comfortable to me. The are placed so I am grabbing for the left end on either side I'm working on because I am left handed.  
Now let's talk about those tools.
Someone told me once that the lathe was the cheapest part of wood turning. I did not, at the time, understand what they meant by that. They were correct though. To me, a three hundred dollar investment in a lathe is a huge deal. I just don't have that kind of money lying around. I have all these other tools though. They cost fifteen dollars here, twenty dollars there, and then you throw in those forty and fifty dollar accessories. Don't even get me to talking about some of the more expensive things. Let's just put it like this. I sat down one day and started figuring up what I had invested in accessories, not counting the lathe, and I swear I felt a heart attack coming on, or at least quite a bit of anxiety if I dared let my wife see those figures.
Anyway, I am always looking for ways to save on tools. The problem is, with a lot of lathe tools, you get what you pay for. Cheap tools are just that, cheap tools. Sure, you may get the job done, but be prepared to spend a lot of time at the grinder touching up the cutting edge. Yes, I learned this one the hard way. So I have found that the only other alternative is to make your own tools as much as possible.
With all this rambling, let me explain. I have several nice scrapers and gouges. The problem is that I often find myself in a position where I would love to have a different cutting profile on the tool I have in my hand. However, because of the cost, I just cannot start grinding a different profile on a tool each time I find myself in this predicament.
Then I read this article about the Oland Tool. This little dandy seemed like the answer to my prayers. So I started to look around to see what I had to work with.
Now, to make this tools, you can get pretty much any steel, drill a hole into the end of it, drill and tap for set screws, and stick a piece of tool steel in it. Really the only parameter you have to make sure on is that the holder part is big enough to hold the cutting part. So what would I use for the cutting part?
Then I remembered this tool. I ordered this from Penn State some time ago. I used it several times, hated it, stuck it in my tool rack, and it has collected dust and cobwebs there ever since. This tool is meant to hold quarter inch shank router bits and you use them on the lathe. I think it was a good idea in theory, but just doesn't work well, in my opinion, in practice.
Anyway, all I needed was some good steel to make cutting bits out of that would fit into the quarter inch hole in the end of this tool. So off to town I went. You know what I found? It is hard to find a clear answer in town what exactly good tool steel is, much less actually find any. So in frustration, I found myself at Tractor Supply Company just in hopes of finding something that would work, since they seem to have everything else. Then the brain fart hit me and I thought of drill bits. On the shelf, for less than six bucks a bit, was some very long shank, quarter inch, high speed tool steel, drill bits. I wondered if this would work. There was only one way to find out. So I bought the two bits they had left.
After grinding and cutting, I can get four bits off of each long shank drill bit. So after taxes, for less than fifteen bucks, I made eight different profiled bits to use in the bar of the tool.
Some of you are already asking the important question. How well does it work?
Normally, I would use more than just the oland tool. For example, most of my hollowing would be done with a bowl gouge. However, for testing purposes, I decided to turn this rosewood bowl entirely with the oland tool, using nothing more but different tip profiles. I am happy to say that I am absolutely thrilled with how it performs and would even venture as to say to it is my new favorite tool simply for it's versatility. I've already thought of some other tip profiles I'd like to have once Tractor Supply stocks some more of those quarter inch bits.
Something I love more than turning wood is fishing. Well I went fishing a few nights ago. Since I've been down in my back a lot lately, I let one of my younger sons do something I would never normally allow, carry my tackle box. He hit is on the steps leading down to the water and the flimsy factory handle came right off, with a broken plastic tab that used to hold it on. So I spent some time online looking for a tackle box and could not find one I was happy with. Then finally, at a local sports store, I found one I like a lot. The funny thing is, it was the exact box I have now that has a broken handle. What can I say? I got used to it and just really like the box. The problem is, there is no way I was going to pay over fifty dollars for the same box I already have, that has already proven to have a weak handle support on it. It just did not make sense to me.
So I decided the better alternative to this dilemma would be to fix the box I had. I wanted something better than what came from the factory though. I wanted something that would not tear off just because one of my sons hit it on a concrete step.
So I turned a handle from a solid piece of pecan. I ran strong enough rope through the handle and attached it to the bottom section of the box. In my opinion, this is better anyway because it also take undue stress off of the plastic latches that holds the lid shut, which I was sure by this point would be the next part of the box to fail otherwise.
Here you can see how the handle holds the box up while being carried. Not only do I think this will outlast the factory handle on a new box, in my opinion it is now more comfortable to carry. The handle having the ability to slip on the rope from side to side allows the weight to shift comfortably without the box hitting against your leg as you walk like it used to.
That's all I have to show today. Looking at things I've fixed using the lathe though, I guess I should have named this post, if it's broke, fix it.
Till next time, happy turnings.

The Dark Horse

This is the rocking horse chair. I have built several of these in the past. I was looking at one of my other past projects though and realized that I had only done this project in light colored wood. I thought it would look nice in a darker color. So I stained it with Minwax dark walnut stain.
This one is a really simple project for anyone who wishes to make one. The plans for it can be found here. I can make one, without the finish, in a day. Even for the novice woodworker though, I honestly believe it would only be a weekend project at the most.
The plans have all the parts drawn out in full size patterns. All you do is trace them using carbon paper, or attach straight to the wood if you only plan on making one, and cut the few parts out then assemble it. There are as many ways to attach wood together as there are names you can come up with for your horse. For this type of project though, I like to use Titebond II glue and screws. I countersink the screws, plug the holes, and sand the plugs off flush.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Shooting Straight

I must give you all fair warning. I have gotten way behind on posting my blog as of late. Settle in, grab a cup of coffee, or beverage of your choice, and hang on. This one will be a long one.
The thing that has kept me from posting, besides personal problems, is that I have gotten into some pens that have really peaked my interest. I had a birthday last month. My wife asked what I wanted and I told her I'd really like to order some kind of pen kits besides slimlines that I have been turning. So she gave me some money to order what I wanted and I ordered some teacher's pens, and a five piece starter set of bullet pens.
There is so much to show, that I guess I'll just go in order and shoot straight through it, thus the name of this blog entry.
I done one of the teacher's pens first. I made a Celtic knot in the middle piece, which is made of maple. Then I used purple heart and ziricote for the end pieces. This pen is designed for teachers or accountants because it uses the two inks that those professions use most. The end of the pen with the ziricote turns to expose a black ink tip, while the purple heart end exposes a red ink tip.
Next, I desperately wanted to get into those bullet pens. However, the starter set came with several pieces of camouflage acrylic blanks. I had never worked with acrylic before, and really wanted to practice on it before I started on the higher priced bullet pen kits. Well, one of the acrylic blanks was this crushed camo. Personally, I thought it was the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Someone else might like it though, so it was a perfect candidate to use with a slimline kit to get some practice on.
Then I couldn't wait any longer. I just had to do a bullet pen. I decided to do one of the .30 caliber click pens first, since it would also be my first click pen. This one is chrome with urban camo acrylic.
After turning two pens with it, I felt I was ready to give my opinion of turning acrylic. It is alright. I much more prefer wood though. If someone wants acrylic, or I happen to get some, I'll be happy to turn it. I highly doubt I'll be going out of my way to acquire more though.
This next pen was just a fun pen to do. It is the .50 caliber pen made with desert camo acrylic. It is meant to be a stand alone desk accessory. I did however go back later and make a box for it so it would make a good gift for someone.
To really give you an idea of the massive size of this pen, here it is next to a slimline pen. It also shows why I had to make a different box for it.
I have so many photos to show that I am not necessarily showing the boxes I made in this post. I had to make special boxes for several other pens. If any of my readers are actually interested in them though, please let me know and I'll post more about the boxes.
Now, I am going to show the box for this pen in just a bit. This pen is special to me for several reasons. For starters, I think it is my new favorite. I absolutely love this pen. It is the civil war pen. Another thing is, my hometown, and where I now reside, is steeped in civil war history. Also not to be missed, I fell in love with the box elder burl that came with this starter set before I even turned it, and loved it more after it was turned, sanded, and buffed to a high gloss shine.
Here is a better close up of the pen. It is chrome with box elder burl.
I made more of a collector style box for it out of sapelle. I chose this design because it is more of a collector item than most of the pens I have turned. Also, the paper that goes with the pen would not fit in the boxes I've been making.
Here is the inside of the box, and the paper I am talking about. The paper has a stylish front which tells who turned it and what kind of wood is used on it.
Inside that paper is information about the different parts of the pen and why they were chose for the hardware on a civil war pen. The clip is the replica of an 1861 Springfield musket. The cap is a .58 caliber "Minnie" ball, and the tip is the replica of a .44 caliber 1860 Colt Army revolver bullet.
For the .30 caliber twist pen, I decided that since I love burl so much, I would try some of the live oak burl on it.
By this time, the idea had struck me to combine two things that are very popular in the area where I live, bullets (or guns) and white tail deer. So I done the last pen, the gold click pen, in white tail deer antler.
With all these ideas floating around in my head, I somehow came out of the starter set with one piece of untouched acrylic. So I decided to do the woodland camo blank for another slimline pen.
Then, through all this, one of my older sons had seen each pen with great interest. He loves guns and hunting. He recently bought a .45-70 and was bugging me to death about making him a pen out of a .45-70 cartridge. I kept telling him they don't make kits for that and carried on. Then, as I was nearing completion of all of the kit pens, I thought one evening about how much I've done in the past without proper kits. So I knew there had to be a way.
I took what was left of the urban camo blank. I cut one end off to length for a slimline tube. The other end I glued what was left to one end of a slimline tube. Next, I used calipers to carefully measure and turn a shoulder to fit snugly inside the .45-70 cartridge. Then, resetting the calipers, again carefully turned the rest of the pen to be exactly the same diameter as the outside of the cartridge. From there, I just turned the tip end to shape of a regular pen and used gold slimline parts to make a pen. The shoulder I turned before got glued inside the .45-70 cartridge.
These are unrelated, but both the pink slimline pen and the zebra wood with cross grain slimline pen have left my shop. Since both of these pens seem to be very popular, I felt I needed to replace them.
While doing the pink pen though, which is actually pink dyed maple, I had another idea. I also had a piece of black dyed maple. These two together made perfect ends for a teacher's pen. For the middle I used a piece of cocabolo that has really interested me since I first laid eyes on it. It had sap wood in it, which is something I had never seen before.
While doing that teachers pen, I had yet another idea. You may remember how much I love burl. I had just enough box elder burl from the start set to go with some cherry burl and live oak burl, and make a teachers pen with three different types of burl on it.
I had just enough left of that cocabolo with the sapwood to do one more thing with. I wanted to make something special for my Dad.
My Dad, if some of you remember, is part of S.A.S.S. They shoot old west era guns. One of the guns he shoot is a .45 Colt. It is the same ones I made gun blocks for some time back.
Well I knew if I could make a pen with a .45-70, then I should be able to do the same with a .45 Colt. So, using the same method as for the pen previously described, I made my Dad a cocabolo pen with a .45 Colt cap.
Well, if you haven't left yet or fell asleep, that is what I have been able to get done in the last couple of weeks. I have been down a bit in my health, but hope to get back in the shop soon. Also, I hope I am able to order more bullet pen kits soon. I really enjoy them and have all kinds of idea for them. In the meantime, I still have seven more teachers pen kits to come up with ideas for.