Destroying Pen Blanks - Frustrating - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 17 Old 04-20-2012, 02:16 PM Thread Starter
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Destroying Pen Blanks - Frustrating

I am having a terrible time with my pen blanks. At least 1/2 of my blanks are being destroyed somewhere during the pen making process. At first the backs would blow out while I was drilling them. I solved this by leaving the blanks way too long and then just cutting them to the correct length after drilling them. Now I seems to be chipping the ends of the blanks while squaring them. I am trying to go slow but I find that if I don't apply enough pressure the squaring bit doesn't really take any thing off. When I am able to get past the squaring process I often will knock one of the end off when I am turning it. I am pretty sure my tools are sharp enough as they seem to remove material in a relative effortless manner. This is getting very frustrating and expensive.

This happends most often on stabalized blanks that I am getting from PSI. There are two possible causes that I can think of off hand that could be contributing to this. First, I am not super patient as far as gluing the tubes to the blanks. I try to give the glue at least an hour or so to dry, but not always that long and sometimes I will square the blanks after 30 minutes or so. Could that be part of the problem? Also, I am using the lathe to drill the blanks and the holes may be slightly enlarged due to things not being perfectly aligned. However, I do not feel any slop or see any light coming around the edges when gluing the tubes.

Can anyone offer some advice for me? I did mention this in one of my previous posts, but after taking in the recommendations I am still having these issues.

Thanks,

Matt
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post #2 of 17 Old 04-20-2012, 02:36 PM
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Slow down. I allow my blanks to sit overnight after gluing in the tubes. When drilling, make sure to advance the drill slowly and back it out often to clear chips. If you don't, then the chips will build up increasing pressure inside the blank and potentially cracking the blank.

When truing your ends, get a better barrel trimmer or sharpen the one you have. Or use a disc sander instead of a trimmer.

Stabilized blanks will dull your tools quickly, so sharpen often. Take lighter cuts.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #3 of 17 Old 04-20-2012, 02:55 PM
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Blow-out while drilling is most likely due to the drill bit getting very hot -- it happened to me on a couple of acrylic blanks before I learned what was going on.

1) slow down the rotation speed
2) don't drive in hard
3) back out often -- like every 1/4"
4) drip water onto the drill bit (easier when I'm using the drill press than drilling on the lathe, but it can still be done)

You already learned to try not to drill right through the end of the blank -- on a drill press, I use a block of plywood to support the material as the bit breaks through. Again, on a lathe not so easy -- but allowing a bit of extra length works.

If your turning tools are tearing out the ends of the blank, it suggests that either they are not sharp enough, or you are applying too much pressure, or the wood is failing (which shouldn't happen if you've paid for stabilized blanks).

I sometimes drip thin CA onto the squared ends of blanks (and let it cure!) before putting them on the mandrel. It wicks into any hairline cracks and seals them up.

That's all I can think of for now -- good luck

Duncan

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post #4 of 17 Old 04-20-2012, 03:50 PM
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[QUOTE=duncsuss;330537]4) drip water onto the drill bit (easier when I'm using the drill press than drilling on the lathe, but it can still be done)/QUOTE]

Try using a spray bottle of water. I keep one near my grinder to cool a tool off.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #5 of 17 Old 04-20-2012, 05:51 PM
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Do you know what the term scary sharp means? Thats what you are looking for, especially on your skew. Effortless or not, even a little dull can chew the wood off instead of slicing it. You might also want to pay attention to the cutting angle while turning and see if you may be holding the tool just a bit off the best angle to shear or scrape with. You might have to play around with the tool rest height a bit to fine the best angles.
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post #6 of 17 Old 04-20-2012, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post
I am having a terrible time with my pen blanks. At least 1/2 of my blanks are being destroyed somewhere during the pen making process. At first the backs would blow out while I was drilling them. I solved this by leaving the blanks way too long and then just cutting them to the correct length after drilling them. Now I seems to be chipping the ends of the blanks while squaring them. I am trying to go slow but I find that if I don't apply enough pressure the squaring bit doesn't really take any thing off. When I am able to get past the squaring process I often will knock one of the end off when I am turning it. I am pretty sure my tools are sharp enough as they seem to remove material in a relative effortless manner. This is getting very frustrating and expensive.

This happends most often on stabalized blanks that I am getting from PSI. There are two possible causes that I can think of off hand that could be contributing to this. First, I am not super patient as far as gluing the tubes to the blanks. I try to give the glue at least an hour or so to dry, but not always that long and sometimes I will square the blanks after 30 minutes or so. Could that be part of the problem? Also, I am using the lathe to drill the blanks and the holes may be slightly enlarged due to things not being perfectly aligned. However, I do not feel any slop or see any light coming around the edges when gluing the tubes.

Can anyone offer some advice for me? I did mention this in one of my previous posts, but after taking in the recommendations I am still having these issues.

Thanks,

Matt

Well Matt you got alot of good advise from the other posters but the one thing that stands out the most. SLOW DOWN. It will get more and more frustrating.

Now lets take the things you mention. You do not mention what type glue you are using. You do not mention the speed you drill at. You do not mention the speed you turn at. You do not mention if you are cooling the bit as you drill. You do not mention if you are clearing the hole enough times when drilling. You do not mention the tools you use to turn the blank. You do not mention if these are round or square blanks you are having a problem with. You mentioned the tubes, are they coming lose at any time?? How many cutting edges on your barrel trimmer. Should be at least 4 with 6 be better. Should I go on????

I drill all the time on the lathe and to date I have never had a blow out and I have turned everything under the sun. So it is possible. I have had segmented blanks blow up when turning but my own fault.


Answer some of the questions and hopefully we can zero more into your problems. But if not the posters before me have covered the basics to follow.

John T.

Last edited by JTTHECLOCKMAN; 04-20-2012 at 11:50 PM.
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post #7 of 17 Old 04-21-2012, 11:07 PM
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If you think your holes are enlarged, I would use a two part epoxy to glue the tubes to the blanks. The epoxy takes longer to cure, but gives better coverage than CA glue. The epoxy fills gaps better, therefore, it is great for burls that have voids. If you are already using epoxy, you said that you where waiting and hour to turn the pen, I would wait overnight. It also sounds like you need to sharpen your barrel trimmer and SLOW DOWN.
It also depends on the woods you are turning. If it is spalted, or a burl, use very sharp tools go slow and use thin CA glue to reinforce any weak spots.
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post #8 of 17 Old 04-23-2012, 05:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by JTTHECLOCKMAN View Post
Well Matt you got alot of good advise from the other posters but the one thing that stands out the most. SLOW DOWN. It will get more and more frustrating.

Now lets take the things you mention. You do not mention what type glue you are using. You do not mention the speed you drill at. You do not mention the speed you turn at. You do not mention if you are cooling the bit as you drill. You do not mention if you are clearing the hole enough times when drilling. You do not mention the tools you use to turn the blank. You do not mention if these are round or square blanks you are having a problem with. You mentioned the tubes, are they coming lose at any time?? How many cutting edges on your barrel trimmer. Should be at least 4 with 6 be better. Should I go on????

I drill all the time on the lathe and to date I have never had a blow out and I have turned everything under the sun. So it is possible. I have had segmented blanks blow up when turning but my own fault.


Answer some of the questions and hopefully we can zero more into your problems. But if not the posters before me have covered the basics to follow.
Thanks for all of the replies. I was out of town over the weekend, otherwise I would have offered my appreciation earlier. Concerning the above questions:

  • I am using thick CA for gluing the tubes
  • I am drilling with the lathe on slow, but probably not so slow when I am using my hand drill with the barrel trimmer
  • When turning I have the lathe set at a medium to high speed
  • I am probably not cooling the bit or cleaning the hole enough when I am drilling. When clearing the hole do I have to back the bit all the way out or just a little bit? Also, I am concerned that the more I move the bit back and forth, the greater my odds of ending up with an oval.
  • I typically switch between a skew and a gouge when turning the blanks
  • My blank have all been square so far.
  • The tubes generally don't come loose until I am turning down a ruined blank to re-use the tubes. Then, when I get down to the tube in one area the remaining blank tends to spin on the tube.
  • Finally, I am pretty sure that my barrel trimmer has four cutting edges. I am at work right now so I can't check it, but it's the barrel trimming kit from PSI.

Hopefully that helps a bit.

Thanks again for all of the ideas. I'll go try some more...

Matt
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post #9 of 17 Old 04-23-2012, 06:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post

  • I am using thick CA for gluing the tubes
  • The tubes generally don't come loose until I am turning down a ruined blank to re-use the tubes. Then, when I get down to the tube in one area the remaining blank tends to spin on the tube.

Matt
I've encountered that on occasion. I use an insertion tool the tube wedges onto and when glueing up often times if the fit's not too tight I'll stick it in, twist a bit then pull it out and put it in the other end and twist then let it set up in its proper depth. That usually gets a good adhesion on both ends. Pushing it in all from one end tends to strip the CA from the tube before it gets in the proper depth.
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post #10 of 17 Old 04-23-2012, 09:02 PM
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Tubes -- do you give them a good scratching with a piece of 120 grit sandpaper before gluing? It cuts through the shiny brass surface and gives the glue a better purchase.

Also, I was told to use 2-part epoxy instead of CA. It's more flexible and can tolerate shear forces better, and fills any gaps well (if the hole is slightly oval )

HTH

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post #11 of 17 Old 04-24-2012, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for the help. I destroyed another blank yesterday while turning it. I think the edge of my skew caught the blank ripping a large chunk of the end of the blank. Not the best feeling when you are getting towards the end of the project and all of a sudden you feel a chip break loose and see copper tube instead of wood spinning on the lathe. Maybe technique has something to do with it? One thing I didn't mention (because I figure it isn't a big deal) is that when squaring the blanks I don't always trim the ends all the way down to the tubes. I'll often leave 1/32 or so of wood extending beyond the tubes. Not sure if that could have anything to do with it, but thought I should mention it.

After reading all of the comments, it seems as though there are a few things cauing the issues. For one thing, as mentioned above, I might not be getting the glue spread consistently along the tube. I say this because when stripping the rest of a ruined blank off of the tube there are parts that chip right off (I can even sometimes chip them off with my fingernail), and there are parts that need to be turned all the way down to the tube. I also probably need to work on sharpening my tools better as I don't always get the nice shavings that are a sign of a good sharp tool - sometimes my shavings are more like sawdust. For that I recently bought a Wolverine jig so I will work with it a bit. Finally, as I said above, my technique could also use some help. Guess I'll turn to YouTube for that.

Hopefully I get this figured out sooner rather than later. If anyone has anything to add, feel free.

Matt
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post #12 of 17 Old 05-02-2012, 08:30 AM
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not sure about thick CA but i use thin (with a roughed up tube) and hit it with some accelerator which allows you to start turning in 15mins. if i dont use accelerator then i want 60mins.

i use a drill press and i back the blank with a piece of scrap wood to prevent blow out. if you leave the blank 1/4" longer on the lathe (or dp) you should be fine. ensuring you go slow with a sharp bit and backing out the hole at least once is important.

rounding a square blank's edges on a disk sander helps.

try using a sharp rough gouge all the way down to when you can start using some 150grit sand paper. stay away from the skew until you figure out what is going on.

what speed is "med" and "high" on your lathe? a blank spinning at a high rate is good for sanding but will cause what you are describing if it catches ever so slightly (in particular on acrylics)
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post #13 of 17 Old 05-02-2012, 12:01 PM
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Hi Matt.
I used to have some of the same problems when starting out then I started using 5 min epoxy. I coat the inside of the blank using a wood coffee stirrer. Then coat the tube with epoxy. Insert tube into blank with a twisting motion. This way you know all surfaces are covered. Clean inside & out using q-tips & acetone. Have not had one glue related blowout since or a tube that bonds before it is completely inserted. I can turn in about after a couple of hours of sitting but will usually glue up the night before to give more cure time.

If you are drilling on the lathe & having an issue of the entrance being oversize it could be from pushing the tail stock as you drill. I don't know if this is how you do it but I had this happen from pushing the tail stock to drill deeper. I have changed to locking it down cranking the quill to drill. Unlocked it has to much play. Holes are now round on entrance & exit. Though I do most drilling on the drill press.

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Last edited by jlord; 05-02-2012 at 12:15 PM.
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post #14 of 17 Old 05-02-2012, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clapiana View Post
not sure about thick CA but i use thin (with a roughed up tube) and hit it with some accelerator which allows you to start turning in 15mins. if i dont use accelerator then i want 60mins.
Quote:
Originally Posted by clapiana View Post

i use a drill press and i back the blank with a piece of scrap wood to prevent blow out. if you leave the blank 1/4" longer on the lathe (or dp) you should be fine. ensuring you go slow with a sharp bit and backing out the hole at least once is important.

rounding a square blank's edges on a disk sander helps.

try using a sharp rough gouge all the way down to when you can start using some 150grit sand paper. stay away from the skew until you figure out what is going on.

what speed is "med" and "high" on your lathe? a blank spinning at a high rate is good for sanding but will cause what you are describing if it catches ever so slightly (in particular on acrylics)

That would scare me. Thin CA is not a good idea for gluing tubes in blanks. The holes that are drilled are not precision holes and leave alot of slack. With thin CA you are basically gluing to one side of the blank or on an angle. You need to use at least a med CA to help take up some of that slop in the hole. That is why epoxy is such a good choice. Just some thoughts.

John T.
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post #15 of 17 Old 05-02-2012, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Hey all. Thanks for the follow up replies. I am not sure what I was doing wrong before, but I have had better results as of late. This is probably primarily due to figuring out a few tricks to help salvage the blanks even when I have a problem, such as not cutting them to size until after drilling the holes. I have also had better luck by simply slowing down a bit and using more glue. Finally, I have been sticking to the gouge and not using my skew, as I think the skew was catching the blank and causing alot of the tearout issues. I still get a bit nervous until I get the end of the blank turned down to the bushings, but overall I am having better luck.

On another note, I finally got the CA method of finishing blanks down pretty well. Though it does leave the pen with a more plastic feel to it, I really like the shiny finish and the enhanced durability it offers. Only problem is now the pens I finished before learning that method look dull and boring...

One other thing, I had a blank that chipped after installing the parts on the end cap of a Majestic Junior (poor glue job). Any idea how I can get those off so that I can salvage the kit? I could probably just compress the tube with vice grips to get it off, and if nothing else that's what I will do. I would ideally like to not have to order new tubes though so another option would be great.

Thanks,

Matt
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post #16 of 17 Old 05-02-2012, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post
One other thing, I had a blank that chipped after installing the parts on the end cap of a Majestic Junior (poor glue job). Any idea how I can get those off so that I can salvage the kit? I could probably just compress the tube with vice grips to get it off, and if nothing else that's what I will do. I would ideally like to not have to order new tubes though so another option would be great.

Thanks,

Matt
Hi Matt.
You could use a transfer punch set to take your pens apart. These work very well for knocking your parts apart. Don't use the pointed end against the parts it may dimple it. It is a set I recomend having for pen disassembly.

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalog...transfer+punch

I used to hold the parts trying to knock the pieces apart until I got these to hold the parts. Makes pen disassembly much easier.
http://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKDISGRIP.html

James
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Last edited by jlord; 05-02-2012 at 05:30 PM.
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post #17 of 17 Old 05-03-2012, 08:12 PM
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Good catch I checked and the CA I use is med not thin.

I agree on the punch set from HF and that special vice grip from PSI which works excellent. No more banged up hands since getting them.
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