Some of my first pens and more questions - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-30-2012, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Some of my first pens and more questions

Just thought I would post a few of my first pen attempts. Sorry about the poor quality of the pic - I'm using my phone. Going form the left, first up is a Gatsby in gold with a stabilized green box elder (my most recent and nicest pen to date). The next two are Graduates - the first gold with black palm and the second gun metal with olivewood. After that is a Designer series in gold with cocbolo and finally a Trimline in gold and cocobolo as well. I am having a lot of fun turning these pens and learning quite a bit as I move along. However, I do have a few questions that I am hoping to get some input on.

First, how do I know when my tools need sharpening. I am not making as quick of progress taking my blanks down as I did when I was going through the cocobolo blanks that came with my intro kit. I am also noticing some louder kind of screeching sounds (particularly on the stabilized blank I just worked on), and the shavings are getting a little warm after working for a bit. However, my tools still feel pretty sharp to the touch. Could it be because the new blanks are more difficult to work with than the cocobolo or does it sound like I need to sharpen?

Second, can anyone recommend a good but not too invasive dust mask. I have been using the basic four pack from the hardware store, but I could tell it wasn't completely protecting me from the dust as well as I would hope. I am assuming there are some health risks from the shavings and sanding dust when turning pens.

Finally, finishing has been a bit of a challenge for me. This could be a post in itself but I'll just do it here and try to keep it short. I am currently using shellwax and I can get a nice smooth finish, but I can't get it to gloss up very much. On the Gatsby I made last night I put on five or six coats and applied a fair amount of pressure until I could feel easily the warmth through the paper towel. I still could only get what I would consider a satin finish. Should I be pre-treating the blank with something before the shellwax? Could I be applying too much pressure or buffing for too long? I have also tried the CA method but I just ended up with a mess. Either the glue would turn a whitish color and I would have to sand it off, or the glue would kick and grab the paper towel from my hands. I just want to find a way to get a nice durable and glossy finish. Until then the shellwax finish is acceptable, but not optimal.

Thanks for any help anyone can give me here.

Matt
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-30-2012, 05:12 PM
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dust mask ...

I use one of these --

http://www.amazon.com/R6211-Low-Maintenance-Half-Mask-Respirator-Assembly/dp/B00004Z4EB/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1333141809&sr=8-9

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post #3 of 15 Old 03-30-2012, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post
does it sound like I need to sharpen?
I suggest that you sharpen your tools, you will either feel the difference (in which case it was necessary!) or you will feel no difference (in which case you just got some sharpening practice )

fwiw, sounds to me like they need sharpening ...

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post #4 of 15 Old 03-30-2012, 05:28 PM
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Certain woods will dull your tools faster than others. Stabilized blanks will dull them even faster. Sharpen often. I use a Trend Pro Airshield when I turn. Pricey and took a while to get used to but now I love it. Face and dust protection all in one. As to the finish, I prefer Doctor's Woodshop shellac/walnut oil/carnuba wax finish myself (sort of a homebrew shellawax but better). But this still will not get full on glossy (at least I haven't got it that way yet) but that's ok by me. I want my wood pens to feel like wood, not the plastic feel they get from a CA finish, but that's just the way I am.

Nice looking pens by the way. Keep up the good work. By the way, the amountof sheen you got on the olivewood is exactly how I like my pens.

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

Last edited by sawdustfactory; 03-30-2012 at 05:29 PM. Reason: forgot something
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-30-2012, 09:22 PM
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Id suggest learnig to use CA to get the finish you describe. I have posted videos numerous times of the process. Its really simple to do. Just do a search, they were posted as recently as last week.

I know some woodworkers dont like a CA finish for various reasons and I mean noo disrespect to sawdust but if your going to be selling your pens, you cater to your customers, not your own likes and dislikes. I only use CA on my pens and the finish is ALWAYS the first thing asked about. Everyone wants to know how you make wood take such a nice polish. The durabillity factor is something else to consider. I dont make pens to look at, I make them to be used. Your finish needs to hold up. No one is going to buy your pen if they need to reapply a coat of finish to it every so often to keep it looking good. IMO, CA is by far the best finish for pens, especially if you plan to sell them. CA also dosnt need to be polished to such a high sheen. If a customer wants a satin finish or even a matte finish, all are possible with CA. For the record, no one has ever picked up one of my pens and said that it feels like plastic.

You dont have to take my word for it though, go browse the IAP forum. You dont need to join to browse. There are guys over there making pens that sell for hundreds of dollars, some, thousands of dollars. I would venture to say that CA is used on 90% of em that arnt acrylic and some that are acrylic.

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post #6 of 15 Old 03-31-2012, 01:36 AM
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No disrespect taken bass. I also don't use CA due to the fumes, just makes my eyes water and my nose sting something fierce.

That bowl was perfect right up until that last cut...
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-31-2012, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by sawdustfactory View Post
No disrespect taken bass. I also don't use CA due to the fumes, just makes my eyes water and my nose sting something fierce.
I hear ya on that. It was burning my nose as well. I got a good respirater now and I dont even smell it untill I take it off. I have to let the shop air out for 30 minutes or so after using that finish because I cant stand to wear the respirator for any longer than it takes to finish. I wish my shop wasnt in my basement so I good ventilate it better.

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post #8 of 15 Old 03-31-2012, 09:48 AM
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Me too -- eyes, and sinuses, affected by the fumes. The dust mask I linked to includes organic vapour filtration, and (in combination with an airflow across the lathe) takes care of it completely ... with safety glasses, this works well for me during the finishing process.

For pens, I add a flip-up vizor for the turning phase of the project.

I also have a Trend Air-flow mask, which I use when I'm turning (as opposed to sanding and finishing) anything larger than a pen.

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post #9 of 15 Old 03-31-2012, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the replies. I'll look into one of those 3M dust masks. I am also going to look at a dust hood for my lathe. Maybe the combination of those two things will keep me healthy as well as keep the garage clean. I'll also give the CA method another try. Looking at the tube I recently used, it was the heavey weight stuff. Maybe the medium weight would work better. And I have looked at some of your videos Bassblaster. Very good info, but I was still having trouble. Like I said though, I'll give it another try with the medium glue. And finally, I'll get to sharpening my tools. I hope to pick up a sharpening jig tomorrow and will see what I can do. I am afraid to try to sharpen without a jig. I am pretty sure that I am working with dull tools at this point as I am starting to generate a lot of heat and shavings that are more along the lines of dust. Is it typical for things to get a bit warm during the process though? Thanks again for all of the tips and info. And since I'm posting, here is the pen I turned last night - A Rhodium Tycoon fountain with cleay buckeye.
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-31-2012, 02:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snmhanson View Post
First, how do I know when my tools need sharpening. I am not making as quick of progress taking my blanks down as I did when I was going through the cocobolo blanks that came with my intro kit. I am also noticing some louder kind of screeching sounds (particularly on the stabilized blank I just worked on), and the shavings are getting a little warm after working for a bit. However, my tools still feel pretty sharp to the touch. Could it be because the new blanks are more difficult to work with than the cocobolo or does it sound like I need to sharpen?

Second, can anyone recommend a good but not too invasive dust mask. I have been using the basic four pack from the hardware store, but I could tell it wasn't completely protecting me from the dust as well as I would hope. I am assuming there are some health risks from the shavings and sanding dust when turning pens.

Finally, finishing has been a bit of a challenge for me. This could be a post in itself but I'll just do it here and try to keep it short. I am currently using shellwax and I can get a nice smooth finish, but I can't get it to gloss up very much. On the Gatsby I made last night I put on five or six coats and applied a fair amount of pressure until I could feel easily the warmth through the paper towel. I still could only get what I would consider a satin finish. Should I be pre-treating the blank with something before the shellwax? Could I be applying too much pressure or buffing for too long? I have also tried the CA method but I just ended up with a mess. Either the glue would turn a whitish color and I would have to sand it off, or the glue would kick and grab the paper towel from my hands. I just want to find a way to get a nice durable and glossy finish. Until then the shellwax finish is acceptable, but not optimal.

Thanks for any help anyone can give me here.

Matt
First, I sharpen my tools just before every pen I turn. It only takes a few seconds if you do it often, and it ensures a good edge every time. If you're getting weird noises, you need a sharpen. I haven't used any woods that sound different. I've used cocobolo, olive wood, black palm, paduk, and a long list of others, though not as long as some of the others here. There is a chatter you'll get sometimes, but you'll learn that sound pretty quick. Good sharp tools are a must when turning.

Second, I would recommend something like this one from that big blue box store. Just keep in mind that I work in oil refineries and chemical plants so what you consider invasive and what I consider invasive could be totally different. That particular mask is also just the first one I saw of that type. I don't know if those cartridges are the right ones for what you're doing.

Third, CA gives a beautiful glossy finish. I've never been able to dry sand it with results that I'd be anywhere near happy with. I have to wet sand it. I use MicroMesh sanding pads to wet sand up to 12000 grit. It leaves a good clean swirl free shine that's permanent as far as I can tell. I don't like the nasty fumes associated with it, and the fact that it makes the pens feel more like acrylic than wood. I recently purchased another product at the recommendation of another turner on the forums, but have yet to get it so I can't tell you if I like it or not.
I can tell you that I've used the same pen, finished with CA, at work for the last few months and the finish looks as good as it did the day I put it on. That pen has been in my shirt pocket through some of the nastiest confined spaces out there and made it out without issues. I'm an API 510 inspector if that helps to know what I do.
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post #11 of 15 Old 03-31-2012, 02:19 PM
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I use the medium CA from Titebond when I CA finish something. I've never tried thin or thick so I don't know how they'd work. I've noticed warm shavings even with new carbide cutters, so that doesn't necessarily mean your tools are dull. You could be taking off too much wood at a time. 2 light cuts are better than one deep one.
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post #12 of 15 Old 04-01-2012, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Once again, thanks for all of the help. I am hoping to get to the store today to stock up on a few things. I got overzelous and ended up sharpening my gouge and skew without a jig and now I can definately say that I had dull tools. Not a perfect sharpening jub by any means, but I am getting some nice chips and shavings, and the turning went much quicker. Now if I can just figure out the CA finishing method...

I have one other question that hopefully someone can give me some input on. I have wasted several blanks because of the blanks chipping out. At first it was when I was drilling or squaring the blanks, but I think I have gotten a better touch and learned a few tricks on those two things. Most recently I was turning a blank down and a large piece at the end of the blank just chipped off, ruining the blank and tube. Is it common for blanks to chip like I am experiencing? If so, is it usually just a bad blank, or is it more likely bad form? I just realized that I can order replacement tubes for many of my kits so at least the kit's not wasted, but I have had to trash a couple of nice blanks due to chipping. Any advice?

Thanks,

Matt
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post #13 of 15 Old 04-01-2012, 04:09 PM
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I will knock the corners off of my blanks on the belt sander before going to the lathe, especially on blanks that are more likely to chip out or break. It makes a huge difference. All of the blanks I have have destroyed like you say have been during the innitial rounding of the blank. Taking the corners off before hand really helps.

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post #14 of 15 Old 04-01-2012, 04:19 PM
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Dull tools can do that. Could have been trying to take off too much wood at a time. Light cuts are better. I've had a few blanks do that to me. I attributed it to my own bad form since I was new to pens. I haven't had that issue lately, so might just be a matter of practice. I typically rough it out with a spindle gouge then switch to a skew to finish it up. I'm not saying it's definitely your skill. You could very easily have received a few brittle or cracked blanks that would come apart on anyone.

I don't use a jig for my sharpening, and at this point, I don't even keep the factory angles on everything. Some are longer, some are shorter, some are shallower, some are steeper. My tools have kinda evolved with me. They are what works for me.
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post #15 of 15 Old 04-01-2012, 04:19 PM
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Could have been a bad blank or more likely cracked slightly when you drilled. Taking too aggressive a cut can cause that also. Don't need replacement tubes, just turn the rest of the wood off with roughing or parting tool, sand the tube and reuse.

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