Bob and I have been having all kinds of fun the last few weeks making gifts to take back to Minnesota. I got half a dozen pens turned today. Making those are quick and so rewarding. I have really fallen in love with some of the exotic woods like ebony and bocate and purple heart. I never knew there were so many woods. I can even identify quite a few of them. Who would ever have thought I would be doing this? Certainly not me.
Our woodworking journey is such a great example of what people can do that is brand new when they retire. We keep coming up with relatively simple and easy to do things that are great for gifts. I just ordered a pattern for something that looks really interesting to make on the scroll saw. These are some pens I made last year. Bob is working very hard on his part of the backs of the 12 chairs that the Woodworking Guild needs to make for the new OLLI building. Quite a learning curve for both Bob and Dan, his fellow woodworker.
Bob and I are both taking an all day class on bowl turning on Saturday at Woodcraft. To get the most out of the class the last few days we been turning some small bowls at home. Even though we have taken a class and done some turning since the early class we are both still intimidated by the bowls.
You have a hunk of wood revolving 1500 times a minute and you are using a very sharp tool on it. Bob broke his bowl when it was about 3/4 done. It happens in the blink of an eye. One little wrong move and tool catches on the wood and you have a mess. We have both seen experienced wood turners do it so nothing to be ashamed about.
I finished my bowl, no photo yet because the finish is still drying. It is African mahogany and about 5 inches across. I would give it a grade of a C. It looks ok but the sides and bottom are a little too thick because that’s what scares me about turning, when it starts to get thin. I hope to make another one before Saturday.
We have 6 pieces of exotic and laminated wood for pens and I am almost finished with the 5 steps of prep work on those so soon we can turn pens. Can’t wait to see how they turn out, especially the laminated ones although the wood cracked on one piece when I was drilling it. Bob glued it together so now we will just have to see if it holds when we turn. I would expect that is a common problem with laminated wood. We have some new products to try for a finish on them. Bob and I both say we forget how satisfying it is to work on these projects.
He is nearing completion on the second of my two shadow boxes so should finish that project tomorrow.
Bob and I had so much fun yesterday making pens. Who would have ever thought that together we would be turning wood? While picture painting may not be my passion (at least not yet) I can get really excited about this. It goes so fast and is so rewarding. Don’t get me wrong, we did have a few problems but quickly learned from them.
The pens from left to right:
Walnut Pencil with gold fittings
Walnut Pen with gold fittings
Oak pen with brushed gold fittings (this was the last one we made so
we’re going for a little different look)
Oak Pen with gold fittings
Cedar pen with nickle fittings
Each one got easier to do as we got more practice. I’m getting pretty good at the rough shaping that comes first. Bob is better at the finishing but I am getting there. You sand and apply the finish right on the lathe so that goes very fast. I think now that we are getting the hang of it we can turn the pen, sand, finish and assemble in about 45 minutes. It takes about another 20 minutes to do the band saw cutting, drill press and barrel insertion and gluing but I think that will get quicker also. Next things we will try are pens with carved decorations, Xmas ornaments, bookmark, money clip, bird house, kladescope and the stems of glassware and of course bowls and probably a couple other cute, relatively inexpensive items, I found in catalogs. It seems that there are two basic shapes – variations of spindles (an Xmaas ornament is a spindle and a bowl (a vase is also a bowl and so is a plate) but that will come later.
Here is us working.
I’m so excited I can barely stand it. Can’t remember anything in recent memory that has both of us so pumped. We went to our pen turning class on Sunday. It was so much fun. I used for the first time a drill press, band saw and lathe. Still have all my fingers. We bought all the equipment necessary so we can make more pens at home. I don’t need my Tarot Card deck to see lots of pens and pencils as gifts to family and friends and maybe give to non profits for fund raising events. Maybe I can even sell a few. There were 5 of us in the class, all very new to lathes, and we produced 5 beautiful pens.
The photos show it all. The first one is me at the lathe, a midi size one vs mini size or the full size one we have at home.
This shows the size of wood we start with and how small it gets. It does make a bit of a mess.
Here are our finished pens. The wood is from Africa, have to go find my notes on the name of it. It was VERY hard. The color of the wood in the photo is pretty true. The fittings were shiny gold.
Pretty nice for a first try. Different size pens and pencils require different drill bits. For now we will just start out with the same size we used in class. There are also some fittings that are harder to put in so that will be when we are also more experienced. There are also fountain pens. Those fittings seem to be the most expensive. At Woodcrafter store the fittings are $4 to $14 and the wood is under a dollar. Seems inexpensive but you need a band saw, drill press, lathe and about $300 of other specific wood turning equipment to make it all work easily.
Here is what we can aspire to:
Here is the artist. She has been doing pens for a couple years.
Fay and the instructor.
In addition to everything else we bought, we got 5# of wood pen blanks. That is 73 pieces and about 8 kinds of wood plus many exotic pieces.
Bob already knows I will pester the heck out of him to finish getting his band saw and drill press set up. He just picked up the last of the big equipment on Saturday and is putting it together as I type this so soon you will see photos of his (our?) workshop.
Although I have always liked wood and refinished things 30 years ago, I never thought I would get so excited about wood turning. Just goes to show if you have an open mind you can start some very fun new adventures. I image by Wed. or Thursday I can be making pens at home.