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Toes into the dark side

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  • #16
    Do the blanks need to be a slick finish 3/4 or can they be a rough saw cut? Maybe larger than 3/4?


    • #17
      Originally posted by capncarl View Post
      Do the blanks need to be a slick finish 3/4 or can they be a rough saw cut? Maybe larger than 3/4?
      Usually 3/4 x 3/4 is the overall smallest. They can be 5/8 and I have even done 1/2 inch on slimlines. It is very tedious in drilling the 1/2 inch. Rough sawn on most 3/4 works OK. A lot depend on 1. how rough the cuts are and 2. the specific pen parts size. For instance a "Cigar" pen is hefty and a rough cut 3/4" might have scratch marks that will take it down to just under 5/8 before all the saw marks are clear. This makes it for a tight fit on the Cigar. However there is one more element that is more important: Drilling. We can force drill a quick hole in a 2x4 and nothing will happen. However when carefully drilling a 3/4" square blank, the integrity of the blank is compromised by thin walls; the thinner the wall, the more knots or nice looking irregular grain, or the more scratches from saw marks, the more likely a blowout will occur. There are clamps to hold the blank straight AND more specifically keep the blank from blowing out but clamping the walls of the blank as it is being drilled.

      I, and many pen turners will drill on the lathe; everything is lined up from beginning to the end. In some cases, I will wrap string around the blank (now people wrap gauze around the blanks) and then put CA (super glue) to reinforce the walls of the blank and then drill it. Once drilled, the gauze or string is turned off. In the photo shown here, the black stripes (some form of plastic) placed in the holly groves made for a weakest point in the blank. I wrapped it with string and CAed the stuffings out of it, then drilled and turned it. If I had not wrapped string around it, it would have just blown apart during the drilling or turning. The same concept happens on very grainy blanks and blank with knots, or thin ones or ones with deep scratches from rough cuts. I doubt your idea of rough cut is not nearly as deep as a sawmill rough cut though, which would be disastrous on a 3/4" blank.
      Last edited by leehljp; 03-21-2019, 09:29 AM.
      Hank Lee

      Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!


      • #18
        I had rather cut the blanks on my band saw, which will leave some saw marks. If I have a new, sharp blade not so many marks. Using the table saw is not as appealing, though I donít have a problem cutting them with it. Since I replaced my Delta band saw last year with a Rikon Iíve not used the table saw near as much.
        I think a lot of the wood in my cove cut box is Ambrosia Maple and Chinaberry and should make for some nice pens.


        • #19
          So far - I'm turning slimline pens.
          For what I'm doing ------- the presence of a good center hole is much more important than anything else.

          Rough cut is fine ------ after all, you'll turn it all away.

          I think Ambrosia would make a pretty nice pen, as long as it doesn't have lots of worm holes.


          • #20
            I was surprised, out of 2, 5 gallon buckets full of cut offs, these were the little arch piece I cut out of the 2 long aprons on my Tiny tables, I was only able to get about a dozen pen blanks. Most of the arch pieces thick part was less than 3/4Ē. I cut up some more drops and wound up with about 50 blanks. Iíll save and cut pen blanks out of the rest of my drops later. I just have to get this mess cleaned up!


            • #21
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