Help!!!! Wet Pen Blank - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Help!!!! Wet Pen Blank

My wifes grandmother remarried last weekend and the family is having a little party for them after they get out of church THIS SUNDAY. I ordered a couple of exhibition grade Bethleham Olivewood pen blanks to make a special his and hers pen set as a gift for them. I had no clue these blanks were coming green. Now I need to get these things dried ASAP so I can turn them no later than tomorrow afternoon.

I'm thinking my only option is the microwave to get them dry that quick. I have dried a couple of figured cherry blanks this way and had one get a bad split from drying to quick. I can't have that happen on these blanks because I cant replace them soon enough. The cherry, I nuked for 20 seconds and then let it cool and nuked for 20 seconds and so on till dry. Any other suggestions?

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post #2 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 02:59 PM
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Where did you order them from? Seams odd.
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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I ordered them from PSI. Its the first pen blanks I have gotten that were green other than some blanks I have gotten from members who milled thier own stock. Everything I have purchased green elsewhere was end sealed. These were not. I thought they felt a little heavy but not having worked with olivewood before, I thought maybe its just a dense wood. I marked the first one to cut it to size and was surprised to see a very damp surface on the fresh cut end grain. I brought the piece up and threw it in the microwave for 20 seconds and it was sizzling and bubbling from being so wet. Now I'm afraid they are gonna split but I really need to get these ready. I guess I can just go forth and worse case scenario, I dont have a gift ready for them on Sunday and I'm out 10 bucks for the 2 blanks. I'm hoping someone has some helpful tips though.

FWIW, nuked olivewood makes the house smell good!!

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post #4 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 04:05 PM
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I've never gotten green olivewood from PSI or anyone else. It is an oily and heavy wood though. Maybe someone else has a different opinion.
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post #5 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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So, this is the oil and not moisture? The blanks were dry to the touch and they looked dry. I noticed the dampness when I cut the blank and it was very damp. I would think if it was just the natural oils in the wood, I would have noticed the wet looking end grain before I even cut it, no? I havnt worked with olivewood before so I really dont know. So, am I ruining these blanks by nuking them? Ive put them through 6 or 8, 15 second cycles now and they are noticably lighter.

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post #6 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 04:55 PM
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I'm not positive because i can't see them. I know they are heavier then allot of blanks and the are what I call an oily wood. I've never had a problem and have turned maybe 30 pens from Olive wood mostly from PSI.

I wish someone else would chime in because I have never nuked a blank before. I have no Idea what it will do.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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I have halted the nuking untill I get more answers.

When you cut your olive blanks, do you notice a dampness on the fresh end grain?

I could see the dampness but I dont recall if it was an oily damp. I just went down and grabbed the other half of the blank that didnt get nuked and the end that was damp allready looks as dry as the other end.

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post #8 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 05:24 PM
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Never had wet olivewood pen blanks, but I did recently cut into a stopper sized blank and noticed it was very wet in the center. I had cut a piece off this a while back and the cut end was 13% moisture content (about normal for here in the Pacific NW). The freshly cut end was 21%. Put that puppy back in the cabinet for a while and I'll turn it later. I think if you go easy on the nuking, giving them chance to completely cool in between blasts, you should be ok.

Oh and if they smell good nuking, wait until you start taking shavings...always makes me hungry.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...

Last edited by sawdustfactory; 03-02-2012 at 05:25 PM. Reason: forgot something
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sawdustfactory View Post
Never had wet olivewood pen blanks, but I did recently cut into a stopper sized blank and noticed it was very wet in the center. I had cut a piece off this a while back and the cut end was 13% moisture content (about normal for here in the Pacific NW). The freshly cut end was 21%. Put that puppy back in the cabinet for a while and I'll turn it later. I think if you go easy on the nuking, giving them chance to completely cool in between blasts, you should be ok.

Oh and if they smell good nuking, wait until you start taking shavings...always makes me hungry.
Okay, thats the plan. I'm definately leaning toward wet just for the simple fact that the obvious moisture on the end grain has allready evaperated away an hour later.

Let the nuking continue!!!

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post #10 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 05:47 PM
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Have you contacted PSI and ask them. It seems odd this wood comes from half way around the world and it isn't sealed if in fact it is green.
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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Have you contacted PSI and ask them. It seems odd this wood comes from half way around the world and it isn't sealed if in fact it is green.
No I havnt contacted PSI but I just came from thier website. I read the only review on the exhibition grade blanks and the person who wrote the review also said thier blanks were green.

I'm guessing since PSI also sells cut offs or shorts that they probably get this wood in larger blocks and cut it to the sizes that they list on thier site which would explain how the wood could still be green after being shipped from so far away. Just a guess though.

I have no issues with buying green wood but I think they should say so on thier site and end seal the blanks.

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Last edited by BassBlaster; 03-02-2012 at 05:55 PM.
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post #12 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 10:12 PM
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Time is your constraints so keep nuking. It is a small blank so should not take long. If you have a scale you should have weighed it and kept track. When the weight stops going down it is done. Next time you could try soaking in denatured alchol for a day and then pull out and let dry. The alcohol will pull the moisture out. Good luck.

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post #13 of 23 Old 03-02-2012, 10:57 PM
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Learned something new today.
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post #14 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 12:03 AM
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I have dry olivewood blanks, in the event of an emergency E-mail me I can get you a couple... [email protected]......

I measured it once, and I cut it twice, and it's still too short......
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post #15 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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I have dry olivewood blanks, in the event of an emergency E-mail me I can get you a couple... [email protected]......
Hey thanks for the offer, thats really cool of you. These ones actually survived the process though. Didnt develope any cracks that I can see. One did get a slight twist that shouldnt be a problem. Pics of finished pens coming this afternoon. Thanks for the help guys!!

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post #16 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 09:33 AM
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Just another reason to keep and assortment of acrylic, stabilized, and wood pen blanks around just in case need something in a hurry.


Most vendors have a blurb about no guarantee on MC of turning wood they sell. If PSI has a policy did not see one, you are not the first to buy wet Olive wood from them. Wood suppliers sell wood to turning vendors by the pound or by size of turning blank MC can vary a lot.


Always suspect wood you buy is wet, scrap off wax sealer from sides if present, and let blanks reach EMC before turning. It is true for un-sealed blanks too.

At this site will see can buy Olive wood by individual pen blanks or by the pound if scroll down list. Some items listed as air dried some not. Could not find MC policy for their wood here!

http://www.bethlehemolivewood.net/.1catalog/index.php?p=catalog&parent=2&pg=1


Microwave seems to work, and so does sticking blanks in an oven at about 180 or 200 degrees for couple of hours. Let wood cool whether use microwave or oven method before drilling and turning.
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post #17 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Just another reason to keep and assortment of acrylic, stabilized, and wood pen blanks around just in case need something in a hurry.


Most vendors have a blurb about no guarantee on MC of turning wood they sell. If PSI has a policy did not see one, you are not the first to buy wet Olive wood from them. Wood suppliers sell wood to turning vendors by the pound or by size of turning blank MC can vary a lot.


Always suspect wood you buy is wet, scrap off wax sealer from sides if present, and let blanks reach EMC before turning. It is true for un-sealed blanks too.

At this site will see can buy Olive wood by individual pen blanks or by the pound if scroll down list. Some items listed as air dried some not. Could not find MC policy for their wood here!

http://www.bethlehemolivewood.net/.1catalog/index.php?p=catalog&parent=2&pg=1


Microwave seems to work, and so does sticking blanks in an oven at about 180 or 200 degrees for couple of hours. Let wood cool whether use microwave or oven method before drilling and turning.
I do have an assortment of wood blanks, some dry, some green. These are the only olive wood I have and I ordered them special for this gift. Its not a big deal, Ive just never ordered green blanks that I didnt know were coming green.

I was actually on that website last night looking around. Thier process is pretty cool. Some of the pics of the tools are a little scary, particularly the pic of the guy crosscutting 3/4" blanks with a table saw with the blade 6" above the table and hes doing it freehand against the fence with no safety equipment!!!!

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post #18 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 01:21 PM
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I'm guess a dehydrator would work well? I have 2 of those
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post #19 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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You know, I never thought of that. I have two of em as well that I use for making deer jerky. I have several other green blanks that have some flaws and will need to be cut anyhow so I may throw a couple of them on the dehydrator just to see how it works. If it dont work, no loss. Good tip!!!

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post #20 of 23 Old 03-03-2012, 05:00 PM
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Hey thanks for the offer, thats really cool of you. These ones actually survived the process though. Didnt develope any cracks that I can see. One did get a slight twist that shouldnt be a problem. Pics of finished pens coming this afternoon. Thanks for the help guys!!

Glad to hear, nothing like a little stress to get the blood pumping!!

I measured it once, and I cut it twice, and it's still too short......
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