Turning a Casted Blank… Sorta

Today I released a video where the intent was to turn one of my first casted blanks.  This went well for a while, but then disaster struck, but not all is lost, yet.

I started just like any other pen project where I measured and cut the blank down to size.  After that, I used a 2 part epoxy to glue in the tube.  I barrel trimmed and got the blank on the lathe.  As I was turning, things were going just fine until I got closer to the bushings.  When I got close to the bushings, I started to get a few small catches here and there that caused the blank to jump a bit.

Eventually, I had one catch too many and the blank blew apart beyond repair for that section.  I thought for a minute, and decided to recast the blank with an accent color.  This means that the part of the blank that was damaged would be filled with yellow tinted Alumilite and make for an accent piece in the blank.

While this exact pen blank turning was a fail, I still have a chance to salvage the blank at a later time when I feel confident to do so.

Thanks for checking out this post and as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me!


Casting Pen Blanks Tutorial

First off, sorry this article is so late.  I got caught up in work related duties and didn’t have any time to write the article.

I start by using Alumilite, which is a 1:1.  I used 50g of each color, so when you pour 50g of A, you need to pour 50g of B.  This allows the reaction in the resin to properly set up.  I used twp colors: vibrant pink and silver.

I start by pouring 50g of the “A” side twice (one for each color).  Then, I introduce my Caster’s Choice mica powders and stir until the powder is stirred in and there appears to be no more visible powder.  I stir in both colors separately, then move on.  There is no correct amount of powder that you need to use.  If you like a more translucent appearance, put less powder in the resin.  If you want a more solid appearance, put more mica powder in the resin.

Once I stir in both mica powders, I introduce the “B” side of Alumilite resin and since I poured 50g of A, I poured 50g of B.  As soon as the “B” side is poured into the “A” side, the reaction starts.  Depending on the temperature of your shop, the resin will take longer or shorter to set up.

As I introduce the “B” side into the “A” side, I start to stir the resin.  You can under-stir, but you can’t over-stir, so consistently stirring is important.  I stir until the resin gets up to 90 degrees.  This is the temperature where you get good color separation.  If you pour before the 95 degree mark, you could get runny colors and your mixture won’t look as good as they could have.

After both colors got to 95 degrees, I poured the Alumilite into the molds and let the resin set up in the mold for 2 hours.  When I took the pen blanks out of the pressure pot, I removed the blanks from the molds and cleaned them up on the band saw.

I can’t wait to turn these and see what they look like on a pen kit!

If you have any questions, or comments, don’t hesitate to comment on the youtube video (in the “YouTube Videos” tab on this website), email me, or contact me any way you know how.

Thanks for checking out the article and video.  We’ll take to you later!


Turning My First Castings

I turned some of my first resin castings into pens that turned out when I didn’t think they were able to be turned.  The resin didn’t fill the tube in molds, so the tubes were exposed.  I did some research and found a shorter blank/body Wall Street II kit, so I took the blanks to the disc sander and sanded them down to the appropriate blank length.  I used the tube from the kit as a reference to get the cast blank the right size.

After getting the blanks to the correct size, I went ahead and mounted them to the mandrel on the lathe.  At this point I was able to turn both blanks.  I knew these blanks had some issues on the surface, so I frequently stopped to check my progress and make sure everything was still workable.

Turning Alumilite resin is a treat because I love how smoothly it comes off the blanks.  Additionally, I purchased an extra set of Wall Street II bushings, which allowed me to turn two blanks at once, so I was able to assemble two pens at the end instead of just one.

Once I turned the blanks down to the diameter if the bushings, I started to sand the blanks.  I dry sand with 220 grit, 400 grit, 1,000 grit, and 2,000 grit.  Normally after I dry sand I start wet sanding with Micro Mesh, but one of the blanks had a small void in it, so I filled the void with CA glue, and dry sanded that blank one more time to make sure the CA was flush with the blank.  It was after I dry sanded the blank with the void for the second time that i went ahead and wet sanded from 1,500 grit, up to 12,000 grit.  This gave the blanks a really nice shine.

I finished the banks after wet sanding with a coat of paste wax and HUT Ultra Gloss Polish.  I used two applications of polish and this really made the blanks look great!

Assembly of the pens went together just like any other Wall Street II kit.  I started by pressing the cap into the body of each pen.  When placing the cap, I made sure that the clip covered the defect on the blank that I mentioned earlier.  No one will see the defect, and it turned out to be a gorgeous pen.  I put the spring on the ink refill, put the refill into the nib of the pen, then threaded the transmission of each pen.  Once I threaded the transmission, I tested said transmission and had an awesome fit and action.  Finally. I pressed the body of each pen onto the nibs, and I had two completed Wall Street II grip pens!

This was an excellent way to use seemingly useless castings and turn them into something special.

Thanks for checking out and reading this article.  if you feel like my content is worthy, you can support me on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/crosscutcreations), or make a one time donation through PayPal.  If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to reach out to me!


Shop Update 4.26.18

I released a short shop update on my YouTube channel today and it included current projects, craft show experiences, next week’s video, stickers, and shout out!

Current Projects: I’m currently working on some frames for a drama club production, some props for a festival later this year, and other typical things like pens and such in the shop.

This past weekend I went to a craft show at a high school and sold nothing.  This is my second show in a row where I’ve sold nothing.  I’m heavily considering not doing any more shows, or being super selective about what shows I do go to because I haven’t had a real successful show yet.

Next week’s video will be a turning video.  I will turn a couple pens and put them on a semi-new-to-me kit.  These blanks are also special because these will be blanks I turn from my first batch of casting with alumalite!

Shop Stickers: Waylight Creations, Mike Atkinson, Donny Carter, Opa’s Workshop

Shout Out: Modern Maker Podcast – One sheet of plywood challenge!  Check out the video for more details!


My First Resin Casting Experience

Yesterday I posted a video documenting my first resin casting experience.  This was a new skill I wanted to learn and I have a plethora of resources.  As I went through my first cast, I realized this is something I really enjoy.  For my first cast, I used Alumalite clear.  This resin is a two part resin – Part A (resin) and Part B (hardener).  The ratio is 1:1 (A:B).  This makes it easy to remember and it’s also nice that it’s easy to turn.

I started by laying out my cups and marked them A or B depending on which part I was pouring.  I did a three color pour, which included Phoenix Orange, Midnight Purple, and Teal at the suggestion of Greg Bonier.  (Thanks, Greg!)  I was prepared to pour resin into a four blank mold with each cavity being 7/8″x7/8″x5.25″ blanks.  I also got a tube-in mold for Sierra type pens.  When I finished pouring the resin for the four blank mold, I had enough resin to pour into the tube-in molds.  Because I wasn’t prepared to use the tube-in molds, the extra resin started to set up and the cast wasn’t really pretty.  This turned out okay though, because the “ugly” portion turned off nicely and left an awesome finished blank.

After pouring the resin into the molds, I put the molds in the pressure pot for two hours at 50 psi.  I took the blanks out after two hours and realized I forgot the mold release, but this wasn’t the end of the world as the blanks popped out of the molds relatively easily.  I did have some additional issues with the tube-in castings, but I will detail that at another time.

I plan on doing another casting video at some point where I’ll detail the process I use in a future video in more detail.  I absolutely love casting, and now I need more resin.  Tim to go sell a few pens to be able to afford more resin!

If you have any questions, comments, or anything else, feel free to contact me!


What did I do with my scraps?

The video I released today was very elementary, but it served two important purposes.

1. I was able to repurpose some scrap material.

2. I made room in my shop for other things and now have pen blanks ready to go.

I used two cuts to achieve this.  I used a rip cut and a cross cut.  I ripped my rough scraps down to 3/4″, then I cross cut each of those pieces into 6″ strips.  Doing this allowed me to have a wider variety of pen blanks on hand, as well as this allowed me to store those scraps, now pen blanks with my other turning blanks instead of around the shop.

There isn’t a whole lot to this week’s video as there isn’t much to it, but it was an important and necessary project for the functionality of my shop.  While I understand that not everyone is a pen turner, or turner at all, scraps can be used for a wide variety of projects, you just have to figure out what works for you.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, and/or suggestions.


The Llama Lounge – A CNC Sign

Today I released my first sign video.  I used my Next Wave Automation PiranhaXL CNC.  The sign was made of curly maple and finished with polycrilic.

I took my piece of wood and dimensioned it to 6″x24″, then carved the sign with a 60 degree V bit.  The font was Old English.  After programming the CNC, carving the sign, and rounding over the edges on the router table, I finished the sign with a water-based polycrilic by Minwax.  I used the wipe on version and sanded with 400 grit sandpaper in between coats.  There were a total of three finishing coats applied.

What you didn’t see:

I started this project on the wrong foot.  I had the fine people at Woodcraft cut the board I got roughly in half.  That’s not a problem.  I got the board home and went to trim and square up each edge of the board before cutting it to final length.  I was previously working on some legs for a corn hole game and forgot that I had my miter saw at another angle that wasn’t zero degrees.  This started the project off in a not-so-great fashion, but I was able to overcome that small issue by cutting each side square over on the cross cut sled.  What really got me was that I messed up the clamping process pretty good.  See, I unnecessarily had my work piece on a makeshift (not proper) spoil board and with the settings that I had, when the carving started, the work piece shifted, which meant my sign was out of alignment and ruined.  The next piece I used, everything was going great and the carve got all the way to the very last letter of the sign and guess what!  Yep, the bottom of the gantry found one of my one billion Harbor Freight tape measures that I can never find, which means the gantry jammed and it threw off the placement of the last letter.  I got a THIRD piece and was able to fix all mistakes made in the first two attempts to finally get a successful carve.

This project was a learning experience as this was my first sign of any size.  My CNC is rated for 12″ wide bny 24″ deep.  I learned that when they say 12″x24″, that’s exactly what they mean and you can’t squeeze any more out of it.  That meant that I had to be extremely preceise, especially when setting my zero points, but more specifically, the y-axis.  Even though I had to be precise, That allowed the machine to do its job, and it handled it like a champ.  Now if we could just get the operator to get it in gear…


Shop Update 3.29.18 | Makers Rock 2018 Giveaway Winner

Today I released a shop update video that covered a number of topics!

I talked about my current projects being corn hole boards, pens, and a few other things, but I also highlighted stickers, as well as gave away my Makers Rock album artwork.

I received a number of stickers through a meet up I went to in Cleveland, but also got a good amount of stickers through the mail in a sticker swap.  These swaps are a ton of fun and if you’re interested in trading stickers, feel free to contact me.

The mail call I did involved my journey into casting resin blanks.  I received an order from Fred & Tina Wissen at PTownSubbie (ptownsubbie.com).  Go check out their stuff as they are excellent people to work with and know a lot about the casting process.  They are super willing to help you out and get you headed in the right direction.

I also gave away my Makers Rock album artwork.  I used a random comment generator and Ryan from Waylight Creations won my album artwork, “Brigade” by Heart.  Congrats, Ryan!

Shoutout: PTownSubbie

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me as always.


Makers Rock 2018: “Brigade” by Heart | Giveaway

Today I released my Makers Rock video along with more than 30 other makers!  This year’s theme was 90s albums, so I decided to recreate the album “Brigade” by Heart.

This album was a lot of fun to recreate and was a step outside of my comfort zone, which allowed me to learn some new skills.  I want to take a second to thank Mark Lindsay for helping me with the .tap file to create this project.  he helped me out and taught me how to manually trace vectors and clean up unnecessary lines.  Without Mark, this project would have been nearly impossible.  Thanks, Mark!

After designing the file in Vetric Desktop, I took the painted piece to the CNC and let the PiranhaXL do its thing.  During the very last cut of the entire project, I realized that I misplaced a clamp, so the bit hit the clamp and broke.  Even though that was the case, the project cut perfectly other than that and I was able to more on.

I sanded the rough spots of the carved out piece, then started to paint the piece.  I used craft paints to make the album look like the original.  This was also somewhat new to me as I don’t consider myself a painter or even artist, at least when if comes to mediums such as paint.

Finally, after I got the paint on the piece, I used a coat of polycrilic clear coat just to give the piece some protection.

If you want a chance to win the album artwork, head over to my YouTube channel and do two things:

1. Subscribe to my channel.

2. Leave a comment on the build video.

THAT’S IT!  I will pick a winner by using a random comment generator and will announce the winner during my Shop Update, next Thursday, March 29th!

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/crosscutcreations


Makers Rock Promo Video!

This Tuesday, 35 makers will release videos on recreations on 90s albums!  I am one of the makers that is creating an album.  I will be recreating the album, “Brigade” by Heart.

The best part about this collaboration between these awesome makers is that YOU could win OUR artwork!  Each maker will be doing their own giveaway and you’ll have a chance to win some awesome work!  For my giveaway, I will be selecting a comment from the build video.  That person (as long as he/she is subscribed to my YouTube channel) will win the album artwork!  So here’s the quick and easy version of how to enter to win my album artwork:

1. SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

2. Leave a comment on the build video that will be released this coming Tuesday!

THAT’S IT!  That’s all you have to do to enter the giveaway!  It’s that easy!  In good time (within a month of me releasing the build video), I will announce a winner and get the album art shipped to him/her!

Subscribe to my channel and we’ll see you soon!