first pen disaster: wild choke cherry - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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first pen disaster: wild choke cherry

I picked up a couple of pen blanks at Rockler, the first one I tried turning was the wild choke cherry.

It didn't go too well ... a huge chunk tore out of the middle one section, a smaller one tore off at the end of the other.

At this point, the best I can do is try to make this into a learning experience ... I guess the first question should be "is there a way to avoid tearout, and if so what are the best techniques?"

(Just so you know the level to pitch at, I'm an absolute beginner -- exactly 2 pens turned prior to this attempt, one of those during the lesson at the local Woodcraft store.)

Follow up questions: as a rule of thumb, how frequently should I stop turning and give a roughing gouge a quick touch-up on the sharpening wheel? and how often for a skew?

Thanks in advance --

Duncan

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post #2 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 11:05 AM
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I sharpen my turning tools quit often while making pens. I have a slow speed grinder with the wolverine jig so it only takes a few seconds to touch up a cutting edge. You want to keep your edges sharp. Try taking lighter cuts. Were your blanks glued fully to the pen tubes? I used to use CA glue for wood blanks. Now I mostly use 5 min apoxy. Glue up in the evening then turn the next day. I apply glue in blank with a thin wood coffee stirer. Roll tube in puddle of epoxy. Insert tube then clean up with acetone using q-tip to clean epoxy out of tube.

After awhile you will get the feel of what you are doing.

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post #3 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for answering -- of course, every answer creates a dozen more questions ...

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Originally Posted by jlord View Post
I sharpen my turning tools quit often while making pens.
What's your definition of "often"? (Every minute? Every half-hour?)

Quote:
I have a slow speed grinder with the wolverine jig
I just built a home-made version of the Wolverine jig yesterday: a piece of T-track that slides in-and-out under the base my grinder stands on, in line with the wheel, and a cross-piece with scoop-outs at each end and middle.

My grinder is a Craftsman adjustable (2000-3750rpm), I run it at 2000rpm. I changed the wheel out for one of the white ones.

Quote:
You want to keep your edges sharp.
How sharp? I can see the scratch lines from the grinding wheel -- do I have to hone it to a mirror finish after grinding? (and would that require buying a special wheel for the other end of the grinder?)

Quote:
Were your blanks glued fully to the pen tubes?
I believe so. I scratched up the brass with 100 grit paper, then trickled thin CA down the tubes to coat the inside. I used medium CA to glue the tubes in, making sure to get both ends of the hole in the blank coated first.

Quote:
I used to use CA glue for wood blanks. Now I mostly use 5 min apoxy. Glue up in the evening then turn the next day.
I used epoxy for the previous pen I did at home; I could just go back to that if it makes a difference. I guess there's no way to really determine whether using epoxy instead of CA would have made a difference in this instance.

Again -- thanks!

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post #4 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duncsuss View Post
Thanks for answering -- of course, every answer creates a dozen more questions ...



What's your definition of "often"? (Every minute? Every half-hour?)



I just built a home-made version of the Wolverine jig yesterday: a piece of T-track that slides in-and-out under the base my grinder stands on, in line with the wheel, and a cross-piece with scoop-outs at each end and middle.

My grinder is a Craftsman adjustable (2000-3750rpm), I run it at 2000rpm. I changed the wheel out for one of the white ones.



How sharp? I can see the scratch lines from the grinding wheel -- do I have to hone it to a mirror finish after grinding? (and would that require buying a special wheel for the other end of the grinder?)

I believe so. I scratched up the brass with 100 grit paper, then trickled thin CA down the tubes to coat the inside. I used medium CA to glue the tubes in, making sure to get both ends of the hole in the blank coated first.

I used epoxy for the previous pen I did at home; I could just go back to that if it makes a difference. I guess there's no way to really determine whether using epoxy instead of CA would have made a difference in this instance.

Again -- thanks!
- There is no set time limit after awhile you will get a feel & can tell by the shavings coming off your blank. Some blanks I don't need to sharpen while working on it. So it varies.

- What I like about the wolverine is it holds your tools at the right angle.

- my grinder spins at 1750rpm so your 2000rpm should be ok. I use the white wheel also. Don't get the edges to hot to turn them black. Just take light cuts.

- I use a black sharpie to color the cutting surface. Then just touch up the cutter till the black is ground off evenly across edge. No need to polish to a mirror finish. You can watch a wolverine video for some tips. You should be able to feel the edge. You will get better in time.

- When I use CA I scratch the brass tube & use med CA not thin. I use thin wood coffee stirers (box from Smart & Final) to coat the inside of blank then roll tube in puddle of CA then insert quickly as it dries fast. You don't need to coat the inside of your brass tube. This will cause your pen parts from fitting properly. If your using thin CA then maybe this is drying to quick & not adhering to your blank well enough. That is why thin CA might not work.One thing the 5 min epoxy does is give you time to insert you tube & position it. It will also fill any gaps inside your blank. I use q-tips (Walmart) to clean the inside of the tube with acetone so there is no glue inside.

- I sometimes will use CA for wood blanks if I want to turn it right away. Sometimes the CA will dry before I have my tube fully inserted. That's why I have switched to epoxy. More time.

- I use epoxy only for the acrylic blanks, not CA.

- You can find more info on pen making at www.penturners.org there is also some video tutorials to watch.

James
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post #5 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks once again.

I completely messed up the description of how I glued the brass tubes into the blanks ...

The thin CA is trickled down the hole drilled through the blank (not down the inside of the brass tube) to coat the inside wall of the blank.

Then drip some medium CA onto waxed paper and roll the brass tube in it to cover one end of it uniformly -- push this in & out to transfer the medium CA to the inside of the blank, then roll the tube again and push it into the opposite end of the blank.

(Those instructions came from a book on pen turning, think it's one of the Fine Woodworking series.)

I'll follow your lead and switch back to using epoxy (unless there's something I really *must* turn today!)

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post #6 of 19 Old 07-12-2010, 01:30 PM
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Thin CA dries real quick. I will say that I use thin CA after I have turned the blank down to seal the ends. Puddle some on a paper towel folded 4 times or so (it soaks thru if not folded) on the bench top then just a quick push & twist action to appliy it to the end of blank. Put some sandpaper flat on the bench (220 - 600 or something) & drag end across sandpaper on a flat surface to flatten out CA on end of blank. I use a CA finish on my wood pens & this seals the ends as I wet sand from 600 grit to 12000 grit micromesh after CA is applied to blank. Sealing the ends keeps moisture from getting in between finish & blank.

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post #7 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 06:30 AM
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take note of the sound of you tool cutting sharp and listen for a dull thud of a blunt one you will know when it needs touching up and yes if you are serious about turning you should have a fine grade wet stone grinder you dont need to grind a new surface every sharpen just a touch up the grinder runs in a water bath

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post #8 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 08:04 AM
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I would not advise using thin CA to glue in the blanks to the tubes. I use epoxy or thick CA. Save the thin CA for filling voids.

You very possibly save the blanks that were messed up. If you have the chucks that broke out you can always CA them back on and the use thin CA with sand paper to me a slurry of saw dust to fill in any cracks. I have done this more then I admit.

Also with sharpening in all depend on the wood that you are turning. Woods like purple heart and jatoba will dull your tools faster then woods like mahogany or maple. You'll just need to get a feel for the tool and when you see your chips turning to saw dust you know that you need to resharpen it.

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post #9 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 08:12 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woody woodturner View Post
take note of the sound of you tool cutting sharp and listen for a dull thud of a blunt one you will know when it needs touching up and yes if you are serious about turning you should have a fine grade wet stone grinder you dont need to grind a new surface every sharpen just a touch up the grinder runs in a water bath
interesting -- I'll have to take off the ear protectors for that technique

I just scoped out the price of the wet grinders ... the cheapest (Dayton) is $100, Grizzly about $170, and from there it goes crazy. I think I'll just use a water stone to touch up the edges by hand in between using the slow grinder.

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post #10 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 08:26 AM Thread Starter
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I would not advise using thin CA to glue in the blanks to the tubes. I use epoxy or thick CA. Save the thin CA for filling voids.
Right -- I used medium CA to glue the tubes in, the thin was just to coat the inside of the drilled hole in the blanks. It was still a bit too close for comfort on getting the tubes in place!

Quote:
You very possibly save the blanks that were messed up. If you have the chucks that broke out you can always CA them back on and the use thin CA with sand paper to me a slurry of saw dust to fill in any cracks. I have done this more then I admit.
The chunks are gone -- one was a knot -- and one is quite large, a diagonal piece almost an inch long and 1/8th wide at the brass. I have the off-cut from the original blank that I could grind up to make a repair mix, guess at this point I have nothing to lose trying to fix it up.

I have "The Pen Turner's Workbook" by Barry Gross (Fox Chapel Publishing) and just re-read the section on what to do when things don't go as planned ... he suggests CA and sanding dust too.

Quote:
Also with sharpening in all depend on the wood that you are turning. Woods like purple heart and jatoba will dull your tools faster then woods like mahogany or maple. You'll just need to get a feel for the tool and when you see your chips turning to saw dust you know that you need to resharpen it.
Getting a feel for it ... I was hoping for a short-cut

Thanks!

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post #11 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 11:56 AM
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Hello,

In reference to the following:

"(Just so you know the level to pitch at, I'm an absolute beginner -- exactly 2 pens turned prior to this attempt, one of those during the lesson at the local Woodcraft store.)"

What did you think about the class you took at Woodcraft? I am interested in taking the Peppermill class and was wondering how well you feel the instructors prepared you.

When my husband and I were at the store on Sunday, the pen class was currently in session...nearly done. They won't offer that one again for a little while. We did purchase the items needed to complete a pen. I've been watching Youtube videos on turning and have practiced some...the bug has bitten my husband as well. I told him the other night that he needs to get his own lathe; "that one is mine".
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post #12 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 12:32 PM Thread Starter
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LOL!

Quote:
What did you think about the class you took at Woodcraft?
I have nothing to compare it to, so it's difficult for me to judge (and each instructor will be different, even at the same store).

When I finally got a mandrel that fits my lathe (not easy -- it's a very old Dunlap that doesn't have a morse taper at either end) I was able to turn a pen on my own and it came out okay, so I suppose the instructor deserves a decent grade

She was very thorough in covering the safety factors, which I felt was important.

Included in the price of the class was a set of 5 small turning chisels, a couple of blanks and a couple of pen kits to take home. They also gave 15% discount (perhaps it was 25%) on anything you buy the same day as the class.

Those "perks" might be a local store policy, and they might have refused to give the discount on a lathe -- but you might be able to kill two birds with one stone (get a lathe for TT and recoup the price of the class )

HTH

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post #13 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. Texas Timbers View Post
I told him the other night that he needs to get his own lathe; "that one is mine".
I wish my wife would say that... Powermatic 3520B here I come....

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post #14 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 02:19 PM
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Another thing to consider is grain orientation of the piece you were cutting. That can necessitate a different tool or a different technique. Tearout is probably caused by improper tool presentation (hugely important), taking too large a bite, and dull tools.

Thin CA isn't what you should be using. I have the best luck with 5 minute epoxy, and thick CA is 2nd best. Fully coat the tube, then insert it in the blank. Use a barrel end trimmer to clean up the ends.

How often you sharpen depends on your tools and the wood you're using. You'll get a feel for it. If you're getting dust on the tool when you turn, the tool is dull. I never hone my tools, and use a wolverine on my grinder for all my sharpening. A good argument can be made for honing skews, but since you're a newbie you should avoid the skew until you're more proficient.
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post #15 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Another thing to consider is grain orientation of the piece you were cutting. That can necessitate a different tool or a different technique. Tearout is probably caused by improper tool presentation (hugely important), taking too large a bite, and dull tools.
Interesting ... do you know where I can learn more about how grain orientation affects the way you have to approach it?

(In this case, the grain was pretty much along the length of the blank.)

Thanks for your hints about dust & sharpening.

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post #16 of 19 Old 07-13-2010, 06:16 PM
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I second the "no honing" or the tools... 4 seconds on the grinder every so often works perfect for me.

I do my skews on the sharping on some old wet stones and have gotten quite good at it.

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post #17 of 19 Old 07-14-2010, 10:35 AM
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I use a 2 part epoxy that I coat the brass tube in the move around on the inside of the blank for even coating. this assures good bonding and a strong hold( i use 5 minute set epoxy which is fast enough to turn the same hour and yet slow enough to get it where you want it.

make sure when you drill the hole for the brass tube that you have a sharp bit and go slow if it gets too hot while drilling the blank can get cracks and weakness in it.

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post #18 of 19 Old 07-16-2010, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by duncsuss View Post
Interesting ... do you know where I can learn more about how grain orientation affects the way you have to approach it?

(In this case, the grain was pretty much along the length of the blank.)

Thanks for your hints about dust & sharpening.
Grain orientation dictates which tool you should use, and you'll get that down with experience. For example, some turnings have exposed end grain so a bowl gouge could be more appropriate. Most pens can be tackled with a spindle gouge. Some woods with wild grain benefits from doing your finishing cuts with a scraper. Tool selection is important but doesn't matter as much as how the tool is applied to the wood (angle, open/closed, etc.). Getting with an experienced turner in your area would be of great benefit. A lot of areas have woodturning clubs or guilds that are full of folks that love to teach their hobby. I found a local guy on the Sawmill Creek forum when I first got a lathe, and we got together at my shop. He spent 4 hours with me, and I assure you I learned more in that four hour session that I ever would in a class, and probably more than I have learned in the years since.
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post #19 of 19 Old 07-16-2010, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for all the great hints and advice

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