Monday, October 21, 2013

Still Turning

It's been a very busy couple of months since I last blogged.  I've become totally obsessed with woodturning.  To the point that my dad's shop is becoming a full-fledged woodshop.

Katie and I took a pen class at Rockler and came home with two more (I think) gorgeous pens each.  I also took a class on grinding gouges so I can sharpen my own tools - came home from that with a new slow-speed grinder and Wolverine jigs.

And it hasn't been enough to just turn ready-made blanks into pens.  No...  I have to learn to laminate my own blanks and make other things.  I loaded up on pen and accessory kits from PSI and a box-'o-blanks and was on my way.  Turns out that the b-o-b was a really good choice - it came with photos of the woods so I could identify each piece once it was turned and the woods included are all beautiful so far.

Resurrected my scroll saw that has been sitting unused for a couple of decades, and put it to work.  A sheet of veneer, big bottle of wood glue, and I'm making all kinds of laminated blanks.  This is a perfect craft for the packrat in me that can't throw anything away.  Scrap of wood too small to make anything?  No problem - just glue it to another scrap and presto!  And reading some of the forums, I see that people are even saving sawdust and shavings to include in casting resin.   My casting molds are in the mail as we speak.

I love, love, love what I've been doing.  I'm a little bit frustrated by the ever-growing need to have the right equipment for the right job and my own lack of knowledge about tools in general.  And had one major meltdown over drilling issues that resulted in me raising my voice (yes, I did!) and actually throwing a problem blank on the ground.  It was already cracked so at least I'm not living with that guilt.  And my rage lasted long enough for a trip to the hardware store to get a real drill press.

So here are a few of the things I've been making:

This is the idea that started me in this new direction.  I wanted to make some tools for my fiber arts - nostepinnes, shawl pins, a dealie for controlling yarn at the spinning wheel orifice, latch hooks - I have loads of ideas I want to try.  This one is a latch hook made with mystery wood.  A very simple profile and originally somewhat visually boring, so I added three lines with burning wires.

This tool is a bracelet helper.  If you were a teen in the sixties or seventies you probably think this is something else, but you would be wrong!   The clip on this gadget holds one end of your bracelet so you can use your free hand to clasp the other end.  This is made with Honduran Rosewood.

This next gadget is made from a piece of spalted curly maple.  The first photo shows the whole thing assembled.  The gold bit pulls out of the wood and, surprise!  it's a seam ripper.  The handle is designed to fit back in the wood, so you have a tiny point on the ripper to fit in tight places, but a substantial handle to hold.

Next is a perfume pen.  Another blank from the b-o-b, this is Yucatan rosewood.  A built-in container holds a piece of very porous material.  You fill it with perfume by dipping the wick that protrudes from the barrel into the perfume of your choice.  For those whose spinning wheels have easily accessed oiling spots, this might be a fun way to carry their machine oil.

 A twist pen (uses Cross pen style refills) in black palm.  I've noticed I tend to make the lower parts of my pens especially bulbous because I'm more comfortable with a substantial pen.  Everyone who has picked up this one has remarked on how good the size feels.

This is another twist pen made of bocote.  I chose to make this one without a pocket clip.

And this is a work in progress.  Made from a 2x12 piece of cherry, this is a nostepinne.  Look it up!  It's a little on the heavy side, so it should be used by someone who needs a really substantial tool.  Or wants something lovely that can double as a self-defense device.  I need to cut off the waste wood at the bottom and finish the ends, but couldn't resist including it in today's post.  I have a whole line of nostepinnes in different sizes and weights in production right now.

Now, on to my favorites to make and to look at so far - the laminated woods.  I had an aha moment last week...  Years ago, when I was living with my beloved dad (who could do ANYTHING), I often went out to his shop and found a piece of my good kitchenware being used to soak old oily Model A parts.  Well,  I found myself needing to soak a piece of veneer in water and automatically made a beeline for the kitchen, where I grabbed a loaf pan.  Later realized that I had just done what used to drive me crazy.  Except that I can and did return the pan to the kitchen afterward.  Don't think I could have done the same when my big stockpot was used to soak transmission parts.   Anyway, I guess I am now channeling Dad when I work in his shop (now my shop, but in my heart it will always be Dad's).  Maybe I'll get lucky and channel some of his talent and ingenuity.


This pen was made from my first laminated blank, using bocote, maple veneer, and bloodwood.  The veneer was pretty brittle, but a good soaking in warm water softened it enough to fit the curves in the two wood pieces.  I loved how the curves in the bocote nearly followed the curves I cut on this side of the pen.

For my next laminating project, I wanted much more contrast in colors, so I chose some blanks in bloodwood and yellowheart. Again, using maple veneer between each piece of wood.

First, I made a piece with more curves than the bocote/bloodwood pen.

Another surprise... this is a secret compartment keyring.  Just the perfect size to hold some toothpicks, a couple of aspirin, or maybe some mad money.  As a fiber arts person, though, my immediate thought when I saw this was "needle holder!"

My favorite pen to date.  I cut random blocks of each wood and simply glued them together in alternating colors.  I intended for the stripes to be a little more off-kilter, but held back when cutting because I thought I was getting carried away and would have problems clamping the pieces together.  Will trust my instincts next time.  But I still love how this turned out.

I was actually planning to keep this pen for myself, but it's too big to be comfortable in my hand.  Darn it!  It will have to wait for the right person to claim it.

Finally, here's a little stylus for a smartphone or tablet.  The little black thingy fits into a headphone jack when you're not using it so it won't get lost.  This is made from the same blank as the pen, but I cut it in half lengthwise and offset the pieces to make it far less uniform. 

So what's next?  Well, the nostepinnes are waiting to be finished.  Lined up in my shop, I have about a dozen pen kits glued up and waiting to be turned.  And a few surprises in the wings.  Not to mention the UPS truck.  Plus an advanced penmaking class at Rockler next month. And a bandsaw class at Woodcraft in December.