I often make the comment that I will try to turn anything once. That statement sometimes brings me suggestions on things to try. Some are obvious good suggestions, and some may make some scratch their heads. Sometimes I like to explore some of these suggestions further though. You never know what may or may not be possible if you don't try.
Recently, while looking at one of the deer antler pens I have made, a friend made the comment, "wouldn't it be neat if you could make a flashlight with deer antler on it".
As soon as the comment was made, I remembered seeing these kits in the Penn State catalogue.
So I ordered two kits. It was a puzzle cutting and drilling the antler so it would be big enough without blowouts to get the job done, but I think they turned out alright.
Some of you may remember some of the pens I've made with defects in the wood. I filled the voids with saw dust and a good soaking of CA glue.
Well a friend suggested a similar technique, but using a completely different ingredient for the solid part of the mixture, coffee grounds.
Now I love coffee. So, ever since this idea was first suggested to me, I decided that next time I had a small blowout that caused such a void, that I would try the coffee ground idea. The problem is, since then, I have not had such a blowout.
So I decided to not wait any longer. Instead, I used one of the ugliest pieces of cherry burl I had. I did not have to wait for a blowout on this piece. It already looked like it had been a huge blowout before doing anything.
So I started filling those voids with thin layers of coffee grounds, slowly building it up till it was thick as the wood.
By the time I was ready to turn it, I must say, it was even uglier than it was before I started gluing in the coffee grounds.
After turning, sanding, and finishing though, it didn't look too bad. I don't exactly know what words to use for it though besides, interesting.
So, since the cherry burl and coffee ground pen was successful, I started rummaging around the kitchen to see what else I could fill voids with to turn. By this time, it was starting to seem more like a weird science experiment.
I came up with several possibilities. One that stuck in my mind though was grits. I hate grits, mostly because I eat so many of them growing up. They might make an interesting medium for this though. By this time I had stopped asking why, and going with, why not!
Now, some of you from the north may not know what grits are. No, I am not trying to make fun of anyone. My Dad is from the north though, and from him, I know some of you may have to google grits now. In my own personal opinion, you are not missing much, some people, like my kids, love them though.
I started with a piece of oak burl. Oak burl is my favorite of them all. I'm running low on it though, and this may just very well give me the option of using all those little pieces that aren't good for much because they are in such bad shape.
As a matter of fact, this one didn't even make it off the drill press before it broke completely in two. I figured it was time to go for broke. So I finished drilling the piece, which was now two pieces, and glued a piece on each end of the pen tube. Then I started slowly filling the missing area with grits until I got it built up enough to turn.
So here is what an oak burl and grits pen looks like. Actually, I like the way this one turned out better than the coffee.
I will definitely have to think more and listen to suggestions in the future about what else I can fill holes with to turn. These pens only reinforce the idea that I will try to turn anything at least one, twice if the failure doesn't hurt too bad.
Until next time my friends, happy turning!