Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Hi all,
I have only been woodturning for just over a year and I think I must be doing all right. As you probably know by now, because I seem to mention it in every post, I've decided to turn small stuff only.

The most enjoyable of the small projects is pen making. You start off with a piece of wood about 5 inches long and 1 inch square and an hour later you have a beautiful pen in your hand. These make wonderful gifts or you can just put them in a display box and admire your own work for years to come. I even sold on once.

Anyway, just before last Christmas I came across a forum for pen turners. Here is the link

It is a very good forum which is populated with extremely nice woodturners who are all passionate about turning pens. Woodturning is a bit of a solitary hobby because most of the work is done on ones own in a shed or workshop. So this forum provides a place where people with similar interests can swap information etc. One of the most import things about the forum is it gives each member a chance to show off their latest creation. I must admit that that is why I joined up, I simply wanted to see what sort of pens other people were making. I can tell you now that in the last 9 months I've probably seen some of the best pens ever made.

Anyway, every week one pen is singled out to be declared pen of the week. I look forward to Monday mornings to see if the pick of the week was the same as the one I would have chosen. Well perhaps you can imagine my surprise when I found out  on Monday that my pen had been chosen.

Here it is, my pen of the week
 It is made from a slimeline kit with the centre band omitted. The wood is ebony and the white bands are Milliput, which is an epoxy resin. Ebony turns well but is a bit on the hard side so I had to sharpen my gouges several times. The grooves for the Milliput were cut with a thin parting tool. It was sanded down to 400 grit with the lathe running, I then swithched it off and went back through the grades, sanding with the grain up to 600 grit. I then gave it a rubdown with a tack cloth to get rid of any dust.

I followed that with 8 layers of thin CA (superglue) before caressing it with my micro pads all the way up to 12000. I then gave it a last polish with some Chestnut burnishing cream and it came up a treat.

This pen went well, but sadly not all projects go that way. I was so pleased with the way that the Milliput had worked on this pen I thought I'd go one stage better and make a black and white pen that had lots of stripes like a Zebra. I didn't want the white bands to go all the way around the pen, I wanted them broken, so Instead of using a parting tool, which would cut a groove all the way around the pen, I used a saw while the lathe was stationary.
The rest of the turning and finishing was the same. Here is the result.
I don't blame you for laughing. Not quite the Zebra effect I was looking for. I guess I should have made the bands wider. Ah well, some you win and some you lose. I'm having a go at a whistle next, so I'll show you that in my next post even if it does turn out to be a duffer.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

New Toys

Hi all,
I managed to sell the old big lathe for a very fair price so I'm happy about that.
As you can see in the picture above, it had its own stand and was quite a beast. It was a very good lathe and served me well until I decide that I was at my happiest doing small projects. Pens, jewelry and lidded boxes etc. I was sad to see it go but it at least it has found a good home in Cornwall.

Anyway, I decided to change it for a small bench mounted lathe. This is it, the AH1218VS from Axminster.
As you can see it is much small, but it is more than adequate for my needs. Another reason for the change was to free up some space for a band saw. I have never owned a decent saw; all my woodworking to date has been by hand, a jig saw or my scroll saw, which is great for cutting curves but crap when it comes to cutting straight lines.

After the old lathe went, I had a bit of a change around in the workshop and built a new bench for a bandsaw. Again I chose Axminster, I trust them and their customers' service is very good indeed.

Here is a picture of the bandsaw sitting proudly on its new bench.
I haven't had time to try the new lathe out in anger yet, but I managed to make a pen. It is turned from ebony with white inlays, which were done with Milliput. I guess most people know what Milliput is, but for those who don't know, it's an epoxy putty that can be used to fill cracks and then sanded. It dries very hard overnight and is used a lot by woodturners.
I really like how this pen turned out. It is made from a humble slimline kit which I modified to do away with the narrow centreband.

In my next post I'll hopefully have some more stuff to show you.

One last thing. Do you have a lawn and do you have gravel in your garden? If you do here is a word of warning. Last Sunday, I was mowing our lawn and the mower picked up a small piece of gravel and fired it into our conservatory door. There was a loud thwack sort of noise and there it was, one smashed door pane.
I have been mowing lawns for more than yonks and did not think this could happen to double glazing. In fact, I have always been under the impression that double glazed windows are unbreakable. Years ago I saw a man on the telly showing how tough they were by try, without success, to break one with a sledge hammer.
Anyway, I was fooled so don't get into the same trap as me. Replacing the glass is going to cost me a pretty mean £170 which is only just a few quid cheaper the money I've just lashed out for the bandsaw.

So check your lawn for stones  and small pieces of gravel before you mow it and always mow with your back to the house. The reason for this is that most mowers throw stones out of the front or sides because the grass box on the back helps to prevent them coming out that way.

I did think that to break one's glass with a mower is a vary rare occurrence, but not at all. I googled it and it is very common, this fact was also confirmed when I rang the glaziers to arrange for some new glass. It happens all the time they said. So, now you've got the heads up, there is no excuse for breaking your own windows and forking out loads of dosh for replacement glass.

Any comments or questions are welcome.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Wooden Jewelry

Hi All,
My wife's birthday came and went last week. I bought her a few presents that she'd ordered from me to save me getting the wrong thing. I remember once buying my ex wife a tartan shopping bag for her birthday and she wasn't impressed, in fact, she was a bit rude about my efforts. Who knows, it may have even started the slippery slope towards our divorce.

Anyway, my new wife isn't taking any chances with my present buying skills so she put her orders in and I just buy as I'm told. However, I do like to give her a bit of a surprise, so this time I thought I'd made her some wooden jewelry. She doesn't do sparkling bling stuff, which really suited me because I'm fresh out of diamonds.

I did her two jewelry sets, which consisted of a pair of earrings and a matching pendant. Here is my first effort.
They are turned from lime with burnt lines top and bottom. Between those lines I used my pyrography iron to burn some chequered squares which I then coloured in with Chestnut wood stains. They were then finished with several coats of melamine lacquer. As with the next set, I presented them with just the eye on top of each piece so that she could add her own findings.

The next set featured more pyrography with a leaf design on the front and back of each earring as well as on the pendant.
She was well pleased with my efforts which is a plus because I enjoyed making them. Turning small items really suits me so I've purchased a book with more wooden jewelry project in it. I won't copy them exactly, but adapt them for decoration with pyrography and stains.

Before that I'm going to get back to making some pens to get a couple of ideas out of my head.

Buy the way, there is more excitement because I have sold my big lathe and a smaller one is stiing in my workshop ready for setting up. It should be done in time for my next post so I will show you some pics of it then. Along with a couple of pens I hope.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

An Egg

Hi all,
I've been creating a bit of a theme recently regarding my woodturning and pyrography. First I turned and decorated this little pot.
I was so impressed with the way that it turned out that I did a vase using the same method and colours.
Again, I was very happy with the result so it should come as no surprise that when I did my next project I would decorate it in the same manner. The object that I turned was an egg, which I quickly put to the pyrography iron before colouring it in. It looked very nice when I put it on the mantle piece next to the two items above, but there was a problem, it kept rolling off.

It didn't take me long to figure out a solution because the egg cup had already been invented, so I stuck another piece of beech on my lathe and made an egg cup for it and decorated it in a matching fashion.
 The colours, for those who haven't read my previous post, are from the Chestnut range of wood dyes. They are great colours and only one application is required to get a well saturated result. Using pyrography between each colour keeps them separate and stops them from seeping into each other.

If you have any question about the processes used above please let me know.

Lathe For Sale
If anybody is interested, I am selling my lathe on
You may remember a few weeks ago that I said I was going to concentrate on turning small items. Well I'm getting a smaller lathe that will do everything I want to do and allow me to free up some space for a band saw. I get the new lathe tomorrow so I'm looking forward to that.

I am now about to make some wooden jewellery for my wife's birthday and I will show you them in my next post.

By the way, the second book in The Fishing Detectives, series, "Bun In The Oven" will be free to download from Amazon from the 9th until the 11th of August. Please grab a copy while it is available. Just go to the BOOKS tab at the top of the page then click on the cover. Please enjoy.