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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Higher End

As most of you know, I am hooked on turning pens. It is more than an enjoyment factor for me. It is the one thing I have found that bothers me the least when I am hurting in my back. Even on my worst days, I can set a stool at my lathe and still turn a pen or two. So it is the perfect hobby for someone with my health issues.
Since I started turning though, I look at the Penn State website on a regular basis and lust after the nicer pen kits. Now, I do not want anyone to think I am saying that a nice pen kit alone makes for a nice pen. I've seen some beautiful pens that others have made with the cheapest kits available. Then again, I have seen some ugly pens made with some extremely expensive kits.
All that being said, I still knew that if I ever got the opportunity, it would still be nice to turn some pens using nicer kits than the slim line kits I normally use. The pens I turned today are from some nicer kits. They aren't necessarily the most expensive in that Penn State catalogue, but nicer than I am used to. Yes, I will still be turning mostly the cheap slim lines. It is what my budget allows unless I can make a lot more sales than I have been. It sure was a treat to turn a little higher end than usual though.
I used ziricote for the upper barrel and lignum vitae for the lower barrel. This pen is massive in size. It's massive size though may fool you in the delicate touch you had better have while turning it. That upper barrel is so thin that I believe I could have written a secret message on the brass sleeve inside the wood. You could probably read it under a bright enough light. I normally rough my pen blanks out with a three eighths gouge and then finish it up with light touches with a quarter inch detail gouge or skew chisel. On this pen, the roughing gouge never got used. You just go straight for the detail tools.
Other than using a light touch at the lathe, the pen was not hard to make after I ruined three ziricote blanks trying to drill for the huge nine sixteenth sleeve on the upper barrel. After drilling, the blank would be left so thin that the vice on my drill press would distort, or in one case just crush, the remaining wood. The way I wound up doing it was to sneak up on it. First I used a piece of blank way longer than I needed so that the part I was drilling was left sitting above the pen vice. This kept the jaws from adding sidewards pressure. Then I drilled it in three steps, working up to the final hole size.
I think the extra effort was worth it. In my opinion it is a very nice pen.
This one is the Olympian Elite kit.
I decided to use a wood I'd never turned before on this one. The wood is called tulip wood. I think I made a good choice. In my opinion it went well with the gold and black of the pen hardware. I may be a little biased though.
The wood on this one is quite thin as well. I had no issues though. I think think that was because I learned my lesson with these big barreled pen on the first pen I showed you above. This one is a real nice looking pen. My only complaint with this one is the plastic. While all the pens have some plastic parts here and there, all the parts in this one are completely plastic. They are nice looking and done tastefully. I just really don't care for that much of the stuff. Metal makes me feel much more comfortable. All this concerned me when it came time to press everything together. I could just see in the back of my mind plastic parts shattering and ending all the work I had put into it. Everything went together just fine though. So I guess I was worried for nothing.
That was all I got done today. I spent a lot of today hugging my wood burning stove in the shop. My joints don't like cold air. So on days like today, even with the shop at a comfortable temperature, I simply hurt less sitting as close to the heater as I can stand.
So until next time my friends, happy turning.

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