Find Select Projects Easier

If you're looking for a specific project that I've done, please click here for a categorized list page.

Don't Forget To Leave A Comment

If an article interests you, please click below it where it tells the number of comments and leave one. I appreciate all input.

Get My Blog In Your Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sanding And Sharpening

Anyone who reads my blog posts know I enjoy making my own tools and accessories whenever possible. This sometimes puts me at odds with some people. I get emails from time to time telling me to try this brand of this, or this brand of that, and that I'll see how much better it is than what I made. I will be the first to admit that sometimes the people who tell me this are absolutely correct. Other times, well, not so much.
When I get a chance to do so though, I do try to give some of these suggestions a chance. It all comes down to if and when I can get the items at a reasonable cost and if that cost is worth it to me to take a chance on it.
That will be the subject of the first part of my blog.
Here is the sander I made a while back besides the Robert Sorby Sandmaster that I recently caught on sale.
This is one of those times that the suggestion made to me was correct, well, mostly.
The sander I made does do the job it was intended to do. There is nothing at all wrong with it. However, I also have to give the Sorby brand Sandmaster due credit. It does the same job, but it seems to do it faster and smoother.
Here is the first bowl, made of rose wood, that I sanded with the Robert Sorby Sandmaster.
The sale that was going on when I bought the Sorby tool has now passed. They do have them on Amazon last time I checked though if you'd like to search for them there. Also, the Sandmaster is available from several other well known suppliers.
Next up is the lathe tool sharpening jig.
This is the Complete 4pc Precision Sharpening System  from Penn State Industries. You can find it here if you are interested.
I do like this system. I do not regret buying it. is easier to set up than my shop made system. However, besides being a little more convenient, I do not see the difference at all between the grind quality off this jig compared to my shop made one. I mention this because I got three different emails telling me that this jig would create a more repeatable, and "better" grind. I have to completely disagree with that statement. I can grind two tools, one on the Penn State version, and one on my shop made version, and you cannot tell the difference in them.
All that being said, I do recommend this system to anyone who can afford it. You do get a lot for the $129.95 price tag compared to similar systems. For me personally, the better flat rest, compared to the crappy ones I've been using that came with my grinder, made it worth the price of admission.
Since I was improving sharpening devices in the shop, I decided to finally get around to remaking my oil stone holder. 
This is my old holder. It is something I had thrown together in less than an hour. It served it's purpose, but I had grown tired of it. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the stones are in their plastic containers that they come in. These containers allow the stones to move a bit and gets aggravating when trying to sharpen some tools. It was time to upgrade it.
I wanted something that held the stones more firmly. However, I still needed to be able to cover the stones to keep saw dust out of them.
This is my roll around cart with all my sanders and such. I wanted the sharpening station on this cart. However, I needed it to be movable so that those rare occasions when I'm running out of room on my work bench and piling things up here on the cart it can be moved.
So I sat down and thought about how I wanted to do all this. It was one of those rare occasions that I actually drew up a plan on paper before beginning. Maybe I ought to do this more instead of just making it up as I go along.
Here is what I came up with.
It is a simple box that sits on the sanding bench. The latch in the from keeps the lid secure in the front. The plywood is attached to the front board and slides into slots in the side boards and the back.
When I need to move it, the whole thing just pulls up and can be sat aside. There is four dowels glued into the bottom of the sharpening station that set into corresponding holes in the bench top.
This is what it looks like with the top removed.
I like this much better than my older design. I saved the plastic containers in case I need them in the future. Under the cover, the two diamond plates on the right end still retain their plastic covers. I use only water on them and I didn't want oil from the stones to get on them since oil and water doesn't mix well. Also, I seldom use the diamond plates. I like my oil stones better. The only time the diamond plates get used is when I have a badly damage or new tool that I need to change the bevel on quickly. After they leave the diamond plates, they get actually sharpened on the oil stones.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

More Pens

I have been wanting for such a long while to do some truly higher end pens, made with some higher quality kits. I have neglected doing so purely for financial reasons. These kits are not cheap, and there is no guarantee I'll be able to sell them for enough to make it feasible to even be making them. I wanted to so badly though. So I've been getting a little here and a little there, working up to making just such presentation as I hope to show you today.
So let's get started.
The Tycoon
For each of my pens, I'd like to first quote what the site that sells the kits says about each pen style.
"The Tycoon is simply a great looking pen. This kit features ultra smooth and durable threading, a regal design and striking facets on the rollerball nib. Plus the 24kt gold plating offers a bright pure gold plating that will give your pen a rich and luxurious look. Our 24kt gold uses a "premium rack plating" process and is covered with an epoxy coating for extreme durability. We guarantee it's beauty and durability with a lifetime guarantee."
This Tycoon pen is made of cherry burl with coffee grounds inlaid into the voids.
I find myself more and more wishing to take the worst of the ugly pieces of woods and make them interesting, if not beautiful. This pen is a perfect example of that.
For each half of the pen I used two pieces of end scraps off a block of cherry burl. I carefully glued them to each end of the pen tubes and allowed them to dry. Next I turned the blanks down to about an eighth of an inch over final size. Then I started taking a tiny bit of coffee grounds at a time and gluing them into the space between the two pieces until I built the coffee grounds up above the point where it was turned to. Then I allowed that to cure completely and finished turning, sanding, and finishing the pen.
All the pens in this post are finished with ten coats of boiled linseed oil and cyanoacrylate glue, buffed up to twelve thousand grit micro mesh, buffed with plastic polish, and then given two coats of Johnson's Paste Wax.
This Tycoon pen is made of live oak burl with the voids filled with grits.
I love burls in general. I have yet to find one I don't like the look of. Oak burl has to be my favorite though. It was when my supply of it got low enough that I had to start using pieces with voids in them though that I realized the beauty that adding contrast to the material could do to it. I was originally afraid it would take away from the interesting and twisting grain of the oak burl. Instead though, it only added to the intricity of it.
The Apollo Infinity
"Introducing the elegant Apollo Infinity™ Gold Titanium Gel Rollerball Pen Kit - the next generation of pen from the Apollo Elite™ group. This pen features the "infinity" band - a revolutionary 3-D band style exclusive to the Apollo Infinity™. The pen keeps the same elegant rounded profile of the original Apollo Elite™. Includes smooth writing Black Gel ink. The Gold Titanium (TN) plating looks just like gold and is absolutely permanent. It will even outlast our guaranteed standard gold finishes. All TN kits are stamped with a "TN" indicated on the pen clip to authenticate it’s Titanium status."
This Apollo Infinity pen is made of oak burl with coffee grounds for the inlay.
I couldn't help myself. After seeing how the last oak burl and coffee pen turned out, I had to create the look again for the Apollo pen.
This Apollo Infinity pen is made with box elder burl. The void is inlaid with salt.
The Majestic
"The magnificent Rollerball Pen Kit will inspire your creative talents and will delight your recipient a hand made pen that will exceed even the most discriminating collector's expectations. The Majestic Pen includes many remarkable features including: A rhodium-plated clip that includes a sparkling Swarovski clear crystal; All exposed accent rings, bands and caps include elegant custom hand-carved 3 dimensional designs; Components are cast, polished then plated with extremely durable Black Titanium plating; Its regal profile is accented with brilliant rhodium-plating on all components and has a flawless fit and finish; The rollerball assembly includes a rhodium-plated pen nib with a premium Schmidt steel cartridge refill with a ceramic point; The finished project is complimented with superb balance, superior writing characteristics and an overall stylish, polished & elegant appearance."
This Majestic pen is made with walnut burl.
I only had enough walnut burl to do one more pen. Since this was my favorite design of all the premium pen kits I'd ordered, I decided to use that burl to make the Majestic.
The Broadwell Art Deco
"Penn State Industries is proud to team up again with accomplished pen designer David Broadwell to bring you this exquisitely original Art Deco Rhodium & 22kt Gold Fountain Pen Kit. Art Deco was an opulent and lavish art form that spanned the 1920's and 1930's. The art form influenced architecture, industrial design, interior design, fashion, and film of the period."
The Art Deco Pen features:
All components are cast, polished and plated with a durable Rhodium & 22kt Gold plating.
Includes spires and star bursts that characterize the Art Deco period.
Pen clip features unique Art Deco design and a radiant Swarovski Crystal.
Easily posts with threads on the end cap.
The cap is 3-D cast with intricate Art Deco detail.
The Pen Band is cast and gold plated with Art Deco detail.
Medium Schmidt™ gold and Iridium nib plus an ink pump and ink cartridge.
This Art Deco pen is made with cherry burl and coffee grounds.
I removed the pen kit from the packaging and was studying on what I would like to use for the wood. It just happened that I laid the parts out to get a better feel for them and they were right beside the pen I'd done earlier with cherry burl and coffee ground. I realized that, although I'd done it earlier, it would also look great on this pen.
The Broadwell Nouveau Sceptre
This is another kit designed for Penn State by David Broadwell, and features:
All exposed accent rings, bands and caps include elegant custom casted three dimensional Art Nouveau designs.
Components are cast, polished and plated with a durable 2 micron 22kt gold plate and Rhodium.
The Rollerball and Ball Point styles include a Schmidt rhodium plated pen nib with a steel cartridge with a ceramic point.
This Nouveau Sceptre is made of zebra wood.
Sometimes I am unsure what to make a pen out of until I open the package and look to get a "feel" for what will look good on it. Some pens just scream "I need some flare!" So it was with the Nouveau Sceptre. So I searched through my blanks. I thought about using burl and filling in voids for much the same kind of look I'd given most of my pens lately. This pen though, to me, demanded not to be presented with patched in beauty, but a hard wood that had flowing lines, much like the design elements of the hardware. So I thought about the diagonal cut zebra wood.
All of the pen kits used to make these and more can be found here at Penn State industries.
That's it my friends.
I may never find a buyer for these pens. If they sit in my showcase forever though, it was worth it, because I sure had a good time making them.
So until next time,


I've been back to doing a lot of pens at once lately. This will be the first of two posts just showing a lot of what I've been up to.
I am going to separate the ones in this post according to style.
This is a bolt action tec-pen. I've been wanting to do some of these. I've had several people who loved the bolt action click mechanism in the regular bolt action pens. However, due to their jobs and such, they did not want to have a pen with a bullet for a tip or a rifle clip. So these pens have the same mechanism, but without the otherwise unwanted accessories.
This one is done in blood wood.
This bolt action tec-pen is done in black palm.
This one is box elder burl.
The last one is done in hedge apple.
I purposely picked a piece of wood though with a void so I could fill it with coffee grounds. I find myself doing that more and more lately. I love the inlaid look of different materials and experimenting with it all.
Executive Pens
These pens are called executive pens. I seen them in the catalogue and thought they were nice looking pens. So I ordered a starter set of six pens.
This first one is done in something called canxon negro burl.
Spalted pecan.
I love working with burls and other woods with unusual characteristics that set them apart. This spalted pecan starts out with almost the consistency of a sponge. You have to keep soaking it in glue as you turn it down to keep it from tearing apart. It makes a nice pen in my opinion though.
This one is spalted maple.
Walnut burl.
Box elder burl.
The void on this one is inlaid with black pepper.
Buckeye burl.
The void is inlaid with grits.
Celtic Pen
These pens I've been wanting to do for some time. Every time I wish to order them though, they have been out of stock. They were finally available.
This first one is hedge apple with a Celtic cross inlaid with walnut.
It left my shop so quick that I wasn't able to even show it to the one person I had in mind when I made it. So I would have to make another one just like it.
This is a different pen, just the same material.
I like the look of the Celtic cross on these pens, but didn't think the yellow went well with the pewter finish, so I went with different materials on this one.
This is walnut with box elder inlay.
The last one I decided to do in live oak burl.
The crack void is inlaid with salt.
I have never met a burl I didn't like, but I must admit that oak burl has by far been may favorite to date.
Too bad I am down to my last few pieces of it. I will have to try to find more of this wonderful material one day.
That's it for this post.
I will be typing up the second part of this after dinner.