Shop Update 6.28.18

Well I blinked and it’s the last Thursday in June! That means it’s time for a shop update.  Today I will write about what is currently going on in the shop, update stickers, and give my shout out!

Current Projects: I’m turning items and CNC-ing items for a festival I’m attending as a vendor.  I know in the past I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue with shows, but the circumstances for this one were right and it was marketed as a festival and not a craft show, so I think there is real promise there.  We shall see what happens Saturday! I’m also working on some other items off camera like signs and displays.

The pen series will continue next week. I have plans for at least two or three more videos in the pen series, so this should be lots of fun!

Sticker: Wood Turning with Paul Lockwood

Shout out: Steve Nealon with Harneal Media

Cherry Navigator Rollerball Pen

Today we continue with the pen series with a Cherry Navigator Rollerball.  This pen is a nice addition to any collection and will look good with just about any blank.

I’m not going to talk about preparing the blank since it’s basically identical to the Metro pen I wrote about in my last post.  I will start by talking about the turning of this pen.  Cherry is plentiful in northeast Ohio, so while it is a common wood, it makes a nice looking pen in my opinion and I enjoy turning cherry.  Cherry turns super easily and I take my time to turn the blanks down to the bushings.

The turning is extremely similar to the Metro, but the main difference is with the Navigator, there is no taper near the top and it has a consistent thickness.  After turning the blanks down to the bushings, I went ahead and sanded the blanks with 220, 400, 1,000, and 2,000 grit sandpaper.  This made the blanks super smooth and available to take a CA finish with no problem.

I cleaned the blanks with some denatured alcohol, then continued with finishing.  I coated the blanks with one coat of boiled linseed oil, then applied my CA finish.  After the CA finish (5 coats of thin), I used micro mesh and wet sanded from 1,500 to 12,000 grit to smooth out any rough spots that might have existed.

After finishing, I was able to assemble the pen with no issues.  As long as you are organized, the Navigator goes together smoothly.  Make sure you have your pieces in order and follow the directions, either through video or written instruction, and this makes for a nice looking pen that has an elegant feel.

Thanks for checking out the video and as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to send me a message or comment on the YouTube video that can be found under the “YouTube Videos” tab on my website.

-Robert

Sapele Metro Rollerball Pen

In the video that got released today on my YouTube channel, I made a Metro Rollerball with a sapele blank.  This pen kit was the most difficult kit I’ve assembled yet, but the theme from the cigar pen can be applied to the Metro: Be organized and it isn’t too terrible to assemble.  If you’re organized and go slow, it isn’t a terrible process.  If you rush and don’t organize your parts, good luck.

Typical of all pens I’ve turned, this one starts by marking the blank so it can be cut to size on the band saw.  It is important to stay organized from the start on this pen because it has two parts and requires two different size drill bits because the top portion is a screw on cap and then you have the body of the pen, which requires a different size drill bit.  After I cut the blanks to size on the band saw, I drill the holes to accept the tubes.  The cap requires a 15/32″ drill bit and the body requires a 25/64′ drill bit.  Again, as long as you drill the correct size holes into the correct blanks (the cap is the shorter blank), it’s a pretty painless process.

Once the holes are drilled, I can scuff up my brass tubes and glue them into the blanks with the glue that Starbond was kind enough to send me.  Thanks, Starbond!  I let the CA glue dry and when it’s dry, I can trim and square the blanks flush with the tube.  I recently got a Tim Geist sanding/squaring jig, and I LOVE IT!  This makes squaring blanks so much easier and the need to barrel trim go extinct.

Once the blanks get squared, the blanks are prepped and finally ready for the lathe.  I get to turning and sapele was a treat to turn.  When I turn pens and other kitted items, I crank up the lathe speed to just about as fast as it’ll go and I start turning.  I prefer to start with a square carbide tool to get the piece to a round (or roughly round) state, then I continue to turn to final diameter with a round carbide cutter.  That’s just my preference and I’m sure everyone does it differently.  I’ll take a quote from Bob at RJBWoodTurner: “If it’s safe and it works for you in your shop, do it.”  What works for one person might not work for another person and that’s okay.  As long as you find what works for you and you’re comfortable with whatever it is, go with what works.

I also picked up a second new tool in this video (in addition to the sanding jig).  I decided to move away from my mandrel saver and pick up a 60 degree live center.  I have to say that I fell in love with this addition to the lathe as soon as I started using the tool.  Now my mandrel isn’t getting stuck in the mandrel saver and I’m not having those kinds of issues anymore.

After I got the blanks turned to the diameters of the bushings, I sanded them with 220, 400, 1,000, and 2,000 grit sand papers.  This made the blanks super smooth.  Once the sanding process was complete, I used some denatured alcohol to wipe the blank down.  This serves two purposes.  The first is to clean the blank of any sanding dust, oils that might have been on your hands, and any other dirt and grime that might have been on the blank.  The second is that it gives a preview of what the blank will look like finished.

I let the lathe keep spinning after I apply the denatured alcohol so the blanks can dry, and the DNA evaporates pretty quickly.  When the blanks are completely dry after applying the DNA, you don’t want to touch the blanks because you don’t want any contaminants from your hands to get on the blanks.  At this point, I apply a CA finish.  I finished a few more pens off camera with Starbond CA, and just couldn’t get it right.  Maybe I wasn’t using enough coats of thin CA or maybe it was something else, but I did use a different CA for the finish on this pen.  After I finished the pen with CA, I wet sanded from 1,500 all the way up to 12,000 grit with micro mesh.  Then, I put two rounds of HUT Ultra Gloss on the pen.  I wipe a coat onto the blanks, then buff the polish out.  This makes the pen shine and look real nice.

I finished applying the polish and was ready to take the blanks off the lathe and assemble them into a kit.  I was careful to keep the blanks oriented the same when taking them off the lathe because I wanted to have a continuous grain running throughout the pen.  Once I got to assembly, I used the PDF that woodcraft provides on their website to help me.  If you’re interested, you can find the PDF here:

https://www.woodcraft.com/media/W1siZiIsIjIwMTgvMDEvMjMvMTUvMDIvNDEvOTE2LzE1NDY4MC43N0QzOV9NZXRzLnBkZiJdXQ/154680.77D39%20Mets.pdf?sha=2d5f851aec08b1a4

My biggest suggestion with this pen kit, especially if you haven’t assembled a ton of these (like myself), is go slow and make sure you organize your pen parts.  If you organize yourself, this is a very straight forward process when assembling.  At the end of assembly, you have a gorgeous pen!

If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to contact me and I will get back to you.  I respond to all comments on my YouTube videos and will definitely get back to you if you email me or contact me.  Thanks for watching the video and checking out this article!

-Robert

Purple Heart Cigar Pen

During today’s video, I turn a cigar pen out of a purple heart blank.  Turning cigar-style pens can be fun, but challenging if you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing or aren’t organized.  Being organized is the theme of this article and supplemental video for a couple reasons.  If you aren’t organized, you could orient your bushings incorrectly, which will not allow the pen assembly to go as it should, or if you don’t have your pen components (kit) organized, that could be problematic as well.  However, if you’re organized and take your time, the turning and assembly of this pen shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

I started this pen project just like any other by measuring and marking the blank so I could cut the blank to size over at my band saw.  After cutting the blanks to length, I drilled out the 10mm hole that the tubes require for this specific kit.  After drilling, I used Starbond Medium CA to glue the tubes (that I scuffed up on some old sandpaper) into the blanks.  This Starbond CA worked really well as a bonding agent, but it did have an odor that caught me off guard.  Once I got used to the odor, it wasn’t a huge deal.  Once I let the CA dry, I took the blanks to the sander and squared them up so the blanks were flush with the tubes and the blanks were completely prepped and ready for the lathe at this point.

When taking the blanks to the lathe, maker sure that you have your bushings in the correct order.  At first glance, I thought there were two large bushings and two small bushings.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  Upon closer inspection and some research, there are actually four different size bushings that have to be in the correct order or this pen will not assemble correctly.  I number my bushings so I can keep track of the top and bottom portions of the pen.  The top portion of the pen is slightly shorter than the bottom portion, so the top is assigned to bushings 1 and 2, as shown in the video, and bushing 3 and 4 are assigned to the bottom portion of the pen.

BUSHING ORIENTATION (From Left to Right): Next to smallest bushing, Largest Bushing, 2nd Largest Bushing, Smallest Bushing.  This orientation puts your cap (top) on the left and the body on the right.

Turning the blank went smoothly and there were no real issues.  When turning this pen, just make sure you turn down to your bushings and there shouldn’t be any issues.  It might feel weird turning to four different size bushings, but it’s a relatively easy turn.  Once the blanks are turned round and to the bushings, break out the sand paper and sand your blanks.  After sanding, I clean my blanks with some denatured alcohol.

When finishing the pen, I used five coats of thin Starbond CA and three coats of meduim CA.  This is my typical procedure for applying a CA finish.  I applied the CA, then used activator after the last coat.  Once that set, I went through my MicroMesh wet sanding pads and sanded from 1,500 grit up to 12,000 grit.  When I was done with the MicroMesh, I noticed the finish was splotchy and I didn’t get a great finish on the pen.  This could be due to a number of things that I haven’t quite figured out yet.  To finish the pen, I put two coats of HUT Ultra Gloss polish on the blanks to buff the blanks and make them shine.  At this point, the blanks were ready to come off the lathe and get assembled into a cigar kit!

ASSEMBLING THE PEN: Make sure you organize and lay out your parts AND keep your blanks oriented correctly (because we have four different size bushings) so you don’t have to disassemble the pen.  If you stay organized and lay your parts out, this process goes pretty smoothly and with repetition, assembly gets easier.  This was only the second or third time I’ve assembled a cigar kit, so it did take me some time and I used a video from RJBWoodTurner to help me.

Along with the turning of this pen, Starbond sent me some CA glue to use during this pen series I started.  Overall, I like the glue for all applications except for finishing pens.  The CA was different from what I’ve used before and upon first impressions, it was just that, different.  It wasn’t necessarily better or worse.  I did like a number of features about the glue, so here is my list of pros and cons:

PROS: Great bonding glue, Different tips to control amount of glue being used

CONS: Smell, Finishing abilities, Thin CA appeared really thin

Overall, I give the Starbond CA a 3.75/5 stars upon first impressions.

Thanks for checking out the video and article!  If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to contact me!

-Robert

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!

-Robert