Unseasonably warm weather = garage/shop time

With temperatures in the 80's this weekend, I had more then enough time to work on a few lathe projects this weekend. I had a few more then four projects planned and prepped, but got very distracted cleaning up my garage this afternoon. I spent a few hours cleaning up the back portion of the garage which yielded about sixteen square feet of usable space that was previously covered by lawn and garden equipment. On to the projects: The first pen is a European style ballpoint with gold plated fittings, dressed in Spalted Pecan. The finish is sanding to 600 grit, followed by a coat of Danish oil and CA, finished with a high speed buffing with Carnauba Wax. The spalting in the wood helps accentuate the grain lines to produce very crisp lines with a rich coloring. The next pen is a Classic American Fountain pen with Gold plated hardware and dressed in Bethlehem Olive Wood. These blanks usually take me a few months to get once I order them, as quantities are limited. Olive wood is heavy, dense and durable with a distinctive colors that range in nuances of red and creamy pigments with irregular gray, brown, and wild black lines. The next pen is a Slimline style ballpoint pen with copper plated fittings and dressed in Kingwood. The last is another Slimline style ballpoint pen with gunmetal plated fittings and dressed in Curly Maple.

Segmented Pen Turning: Take 2

A few weeks ago, I made a couple of Segmented Pen Blanks, the first of which I turned last weekend, a fountain pen kit with walnut and oak stock, glued up with red veneer. When making a blank of that style, there is usually a second blank for turning also. This blank was glued up in the same style, but using a black veneer between the pieces. I also opted to use a roller-ball mechanism instead of a fountain pen. The blanks were turned and sanded to 600 grit, then received three coats of CA, followed by a high speed buff and wax. The second pen is an Atlas style twist pencil with satin silver finish and dressed in a Fire and Ice Acrylic. The blank was sanded with micro-mesh to 12,000 grit and poilshed with HUT plastic polish. The other two pens were "rehabs" from some turnings last year. I was never quite satisfied with the finish on either of them, so I lightly returned the blanks and refinished using the CA and high speed buffing technique. The first is a Maple Burl and the second is an Amboyna Burl. Both are Gatsby/Wallstreet Ballpoint twist pens.

Segmented Pen Turning

This year I want to focus on segmented turnings. While they take a considerable amount of time and patience to not only setup the blanks, but to turn them to size, the results are well worth it. I thought it would be helpful to create a page on the techniques I am currently using to create pens like these. This page will focus on a checkerboard style layout. In this case, a checkboard with a bit of a warp.


Step 1: Initial Cuts. To start, I like to have a contrasting color scheme. For this pen, I used a walnut and oak combination. The blanks should of similar dimensions which will help when gluing them together later on. Use double sided woodworking tape to hold the blanks together while running them through the bandsaw. I made a wavy cut down the long axis, then cross cuts which will be swapped around. Reassemble the blank on a tape (dry, do not glue) to keep the order of pieces straight.


Step 2: Arrange blanks for gluing. take the two cut blanks and separate them from the double sided tape. Swap every other piece from both blanks to create a checkerboard style layout. The fit should be tight if the bandsaw blade did not drift much. At this point I could glue up the blanks as is, but I decided to cut strips of dyed maple veneer and glue that up with the pieces. I used black and red dyed veneers to produce a little variety.

Given a nice day, the Lathe will run...

All the right conditions fell into place: a very nice spring day, no planned activities or commitments, a couple of acrylic blanks needing to be turned since December...Today was a great day in the workshop. I turned three pens, a couple of yo-yos, and started a real cool (hopefully) segmented blank (that one is going to require a lot of glue...and clamps...lots of clamps). So, from left to right in the images, the first are two yo-yo kits (chrome and gold plated) dressed in Bolivian Rosewood. I purchased a plank of rosewood last year, and almost forgot I had it in my cabinet. The gold plated kit has a concave face on either side while the chrome plated kit has a slightly raised convex face (a slip of the skew caused that design opportunity, but I'm pleased with the results). Both yo-yos are sanded up to 600 grit, with a denatured alcohol wipe between sanding steps. To finish, I applied a light coat of Danish Oil followed by a high speed buffing with a small amount of Carnauba wax.

Spring Turning

Spring is finally here in Northwest Ohio. Average temperatures have been in the 50's the past week or so, and that has allowed me to spend much needed time in my garage cleaning up from the "winter of neglect". I was finally able to clean up my lathe, just in time to make a fresh pile of wood shavings. I had a request for a kaleidoscope in no specific wood. I found an old cocobolo bottle stopper blank witch was perfect for the required dimensions. A few months away from wood turning did not seem to erode my skills at all, and it felt good to slip back into my hobby.

Long Weekend...

Last weekend I had scheduled upgrades to perform and one unexpected server failure. After the dust settled, the amount of time I put in working on those projects demanded an extra day off this weekend.

Friday started off with a bit of light cleaning in the morning in anticipation of our friend Anne visiting for the day from Baltimore. She arrived a bit before lunch, which allowed us to get caught up before our unplanned activities. We had a late lunch at the Grape Leaf, our favorite cheap Mediterranean diner, while we decided on the plan for the day. Since we were already "in town", we decided a quick trip over to the Toledo Museum of Art was in order so we could show off the new Glass Pavilion. On the way, Anne had mentioned it had been a long time since she had seen the Toledo Zoo as well. Since it was "technically" on the way to the Museum, that became our first stop for the day. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's, it was a splendid day for a stroll around the Zoo. We spent a couple of hours there (closing the place down at 5:00pm) before heading down to the Museum. I always love a trip to the Museum. I think it's one of the most impressive sites in Toledo, and given there is no charge for admission, certainly a must see attraction. After a walk around the glass exhibit, we decided it would be a good time to head home and relax for the rest of the evening. I can usually walk the Zoo or the Museum without wearing myself out, but both in the same day had worn me out pretty well. The rest of the evening was spent in the usual fashion, pizza for dinner, bad SciFi on the television (in this case, the commentary track on Dr. Horrible's sing-a-long Blog, also musical). By the end of the day I was severely nodding off and thoroughly exhausted. As expected, I slept remarkably well Friday night.

I suppose I should update this blog occasionally

So I will start with a week in review.

Radio Stuff:

I ventured out to the Fulton County Amateur Radio Club monthly meeting on Monday. It's a nice group of guys all excited to help and answer questions for the new HAM radio operator. I was waffling on which radio to purchase: a hand-held style (HT) putting out around 5 watts, or a mobile unit putting out around 50 watts (but with far less features). I really just want to be able to hit some of the local repeaters in the northwest Ohio area, some of which are on I.R.L.P. and EchoLink. The Wauseon repeater is around 7 miles from my location, and I want to be able to at least hit that one with a clean signal. The guys at the club assured me a 5 watt hand-held (with a good antenna) will be more then adequate to connect over that distance. So I finally ordered my radio this week, going with the Yaesu/Vertex VX-7RB. It's a quad band (6m/2m/1.25m/.70m) HT with enough bells and whistles to keep my occupied and out of trouble for a while. At least until I get my General Class License and start getting into HF. I did have my first EchoLink contact last Sunday. While playing around with the software settings, I had a drop in QSO with a nice guy in Australia. We chatted for about half an hour which was surprisingly fun. The new HT arrives on Wednesday, so I'm looking forward to that!

Art Stuff:

not a banner weekend, but better then last...

I decided to take Friday off work since I spent a good portion of the previous weekend repairing a customer database server. I spent a portion of Friday morning connecting an old laptop to our television so we can watch Netflix downloads. The laptop has S-Video built-in, which made it very simple to test, but I think it will be fun to have connected for Internet media and content. I still need an S-Video A/V switch to make the setup permanent since our DVD player uses that port on our television. I'm thinking of this model which appears to be priced well and has the component connectors I would need to hook up the DVD, VCR, and Netflix/Laptop. All geeky fun aside, I was unplugging connectors on the laptop and pinched a nerve (I'm guessing) in my lower back. This immediately dropped me to the floor in sever pain. Jen was wonderful in helping me straighten out and manage to get back on my feet. I popped an anti-inflammatory and made my way to the couch where I spent a majority of the rest of my day off. Luckily we have multiple entertainment options, from video games to movies, at our disposal. This made the day go by, even if it was a change in plans for both of us. Friday night I did get a chance to watch Battlestar Galactica, which I think was one of the most powerful episodes they have ever done. I really do enjoy the way the writers can create situations that stir such an emotional response. I am intrigued now more then ever on how Ron Moore will end the series...

It is complete!

Many cuts later, and much sanding and staining (thanks Jen), the rocking motorcycle is complete. This is a Christmas gift for our nephew, so it's finished with several days to spare. The construction is a mix of pine and poplar. The gas tank and saddle are compound band saw cuts and the rear "springs" are simple napkin rings glued up to a dowel. Jen was beyond helpful in taking over the finishing job. She stained and poly'ed the individual pieces and I completed the final assembly this past weekend and tonight.

Workshop Closed for the Season...

I think today was the last day of turnings and woodworking for 2008, with 20 degree temperatures and an ice/snow-encased workshop it's time to close it up for the year. I did manage to finish all of my holiday gifts over the past couple of days. I have turned a bunch of exotic hardwood bottle stoppers, kaleidoscopes, yo-yos, and pens of course. The pictures to the right are a small sample of some of the works I've made over the past month, using everything from cocobolo to east india rosewood. So with a few days left before Christmas, the only task left is to divvy up the presents and get them wrapped.

Big Birthday Weekend

First, thanks to all for the birthday wishes and cards, it was truly a wonderful weekend spent with my best friend in the whole world. Friday I tried to skip out of work a little early, and I guess I technically accomplished that when I signed off at 4:00pm. I made my way home where Jen and I spent the evening with pizza and video games, which on the surface may not seem like it's all that different from any other Friday, but we got a one hour earlier start which meant more game play.

My kingdom for a mild weather weekend...

Autumn seems to have taken a colder turn in Northwest Ohio. Gone are the days of 50 degree weekends, to be replaced with 30's and occasional snow. Not to be bested by nature, I have made the best of the colder temps and got some lathe time in. This is fairly important since I have a bulk of Christmas gifts to make yet (although I haven't completely ruled out the possibility of temporarily relocating the lathe to my mother-in-laws heated basement for the winter). So from left to right, we have a couple of different bottle stopper variants. I am really liking the style of the two on the right as the mandrel is much larger and the stopper blanks are a bit easier to manage. The smaller blanks, like the two on the left, require a much lighter touch and can catch quite badly (I broke a mandrel when I found this out the hard way). The next image is a series of pencil extenders which have gone over very well with artist friends. The third and fourth images are matched acrylic European ballpoint pens and letter openers in "granite" and "emerald". The last image is a pen and pencil set in a new style for me. This shape and hardware combination is called "Executive", and this particular set is finished in Bethlehem Olive Wood.

Check a few more items off the Christmas List

I took advantage of a day without any pressing obligations and turned a few Yo-Yos for Christmas gifts. We stopped into Woodcraft on Saturday where we found a very nice piece of Cocobolo. I turned three cocobolo yo-yos (say that 5 times fast), one bolivian rosewood, and one mystery wood. I got a chunk out of Woodcrafts grab box a few months back and forgot I had it in my trunk. It's a fairly lightweight wood, definitely not a hardwood, so probably something domestic. So that checks a few things off the "make" list for Christmas...now only about a dozen wine bottle stoppers to create...

not the workshop day I had in mind....

...but not a total loss either. I started out this morning with a nice big cup of coffee, a Turning guide/manual, and plans to tun some bottle stoppers. Despite the cold and rain/snow mix falling early this afternoon, I had a good practice session on my nemesis, end grain turning. Once I had a few practice blanks turned and felt comfortable with the technique, I figured it was time to try a few bottle stoppers. I ordered a new style of kit which required a different mandrel from what I've been using. Unfortunately for me, I ordered the wrong mandrel. I need a 1 inch 8TPI adapter and I ordered the 3/4 inch 16TPI. Not a big deal as the mandrels are cheap, but more frustrating as it will be next week before I can turn these blanks I've prepped. Determined not to make it a total washout, I had a few additional kits I ordered to try something different. We've been taking art classes for the past nine weeks at the Toledo Museum of Art. The course is introductory drawing and the media is graphite pencils. Some of the pencils we were supplied with are the woodless variety, which are very nice to draw with, but a bit fragile. After snapping one of them, I found an extender kit which would make the nubs a bit easier to use. The kit has a 3/8in barrel which will allow most pencil stubs to "self-store" by flipping around the chrome holder. When stored, it has a nice rounded end. The opposite end houses a large replaceable eraser. The pencil extenders pictured here show the holder and one of my broken woodless pencils for scale.

Turnings for the weekend of November 8th

Here are a few turnings for the weekend of November 8th. I have not had much time at the Lathe the past few months as other projects and life in general have taken priority. Daylight savings time (or lack of, I can never keep those straight) now means it's dark by the time I get home so most workshop time is now limited to the weekends. This weekend gave me a good opportunity to produce a few turnings while it rained/snowed on Sunday. All pens are gold plated European Ballpoint Twist style. From left to right through the table: marblewood, white acrylic, aromatic cedar, padauk, emerald acrylic, segmented walnut and maple, and kingwood. The next few weeks will be focused solely on making Christmas gifts for my family, so this may be the last batch of pens for the year.