Turning My First Cup, Bowl, Thingamajig

I’ve wanted to turn a bowl for quite some time and I had a log (from when we took down a couple trees in our yard) that was small enough to fit through my bandsaw, so I decided to cut a chunk off and turn something. What I found inside the log was pretty awesome! There was spalting and it give the piece some pretty cool character.

I started by cutting a chunk of the wood at the bandsaw. I drilled a hole into the middle so I could thread the wormwood screw into the blank. I used my Nova G3 chuck to start truing up the blank. This took a little while because I didn’t really know what I was doing and because it was out of round, I had to go slow and take light cuts. This is definitely different from pen turning where you crank up the speed right away. If I were to crank up the speed right away, I would have had a bad time.

I shaped the outside of the bowl or cup, then turned a tenon into the bottom of the bowl so the chuck could grab the wood. It was at this point where I realize that the blank I cut was longer (and smaller in diameter) than I wanted, so it started looking more like a cup than a bowl, but that’s okay. After getting the outside turned to a shape that I was pleased with, I sanded the outside (mostly off camera, going through the grits), then flipped the blank over in the chuck so I could start the hollowing process.

I had a tough first go at this process, so what you don’t see in the video is me taking the cup over to my drill press and hogging out some material that way, as well as the cup even flying off the lathe once. That was more excitement that I was ready for. I didn’t get hit, and I was wearing my safety glasses and face shield the entire time.

When I finished hollowing out the inside of the cup, I realized that my chuck left dents in the wood. Thus was due to the fact that I didn’t have a piece big enough to turn a large enough tenon, so I essentially clamped the cup in the chuck and that caused the dents. – It’s all a learning experience. After learning that I dinged up the wood, I went ahead and filled the cracks and dents with some colored epoxy, then sanded down the excess. This seemed to work pretty well for most places, but again, this was far from perfect or ideal. To finish the piece, I used some Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner which has food safe mineral oil and other waxes in it, even though I don’t think I’ll be using this cup for anything, especially eating or drinking.

Thanks for checking out this article. I can’t wait to turn more cups and hopefully bowls. (Now I just need a chainsaw so I can cut bigger blanks!) This was a great learning experience. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me or leave it in a comment on the YouTube video and I’ll be sure to respond.

-Robert

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