Saturday, 23 September 2017


Hi all,
Not every project I attempt results in success and this week I had a real failure.
It wasn't the turning or the burning, both of these elements went well. The problem came at the end during the finishing process. The green stain has run badly into the yellow stain making it look a bit of a mess. Some times it doesn't matter if colours blend into each other a bit because it can add to the charm. However, in this case I wanted the colours to be crisp and separate.

This isn't the first time Ive used stains and melamine finish, so what went wrong this time?

I think several factors came into play.

 1 I usually put a coat of sanding sealer on after the stains and in this instance I can't remember if I did put the sanding sealer on or not. If didn't use a sanding sealer it probably didn't help.

2 In an effort to get a really dark green colour I gave it three coats of the green. In hindsight this was probably a mistake. Stain usually soaks into the wood and by the time I applied the third coat it was probably already saturated so the colour just sat on the top. Then, when I sprayed the melamine finish it just jumped over to the yellow.

3 Another issue is the type of sealer and finish I've been using. I have always used a cellulose sealer  with spirit stains, but I have now been advised  that it is the wrong thing to do. This is because cellulose will readily mix with the stains and cause runs. Likewise, using a water based stain with a water based finish will have the same results because they readily mix with each other.

This was news to me because I was taught that  if you started out with water based colours you finished with water based colours. It just goes to show how wrong you can be. My excuse is that when I left school my first job was being a painter and decorator and during my training I was told that oil based paints like gloss, should not be used over water based paints, like emulsion. This has always stuck with me along with another thing that happened in my youth.

When I was about 14, me and a couple of mates bought a wreck of an old BSA Bantam motorcycle to scramble around the fields. When we were doing it up my mate took it upon himself to paint the tank. He borrowed some green Dulux emulsion paint that was left over from when is dad painted their lounge and it looked great. However, he wanted a big red flash like flames going along the sides and to do this he sprayed it with car paint. I can still remember the look of horror on his face when the green bottom layer erupted into great big blisters and ruined his paint job.

The paints were of course incompatible  so this was how my opinions were formed. Anyway, I'm going to get some acrylic sanding sealer and see how that works on spirit based stains.

On a more cheerful notem, my wife has been busy making Christmas decorations, all which I have turned. Here's a few of them hanging up to dry.
She's done a cracking job and I guess our tree will be different this year. A big change from the glittery one with the thousand lights that we usually have, that's for sure.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Harlequin Pens

Hi All,
I seem to have gone pen crazy at the moment. Following on from my last post, where I had one of my pens chosen for  the accolade of Pen Of The Week, I have done a couple more, but this time using a bit of colour.

Here is the first one I made, it is a multi coloured Harlequin design.

 The colours are Chestnut stains and each diamond shape has been burnt in with my pyrography iron. The pyrography is a crucial part because without that the stains would run into each other. Unlike paint, stains seep into the wood, so a channel burnt with a pyrography iron creates a nice barrier that the stain can't get past.

Comments have been made that I must have the patience of a saint to do this sort of stuff, but I find it very therapeutic. Each pen takes about 45 minutes to colour, but I'm not bothered, I just listen to Harry Chapin and all  is well with the world.

These pens are made from slimeline kits but I modify them by doing away with the centre band, which I don't find very attractive.

Anyway, for those interested in the process, post turning, here it is. The black bands at the top and bottom of each part have the pen should have been burnt in on the lathe and I will assume that the pen has been sanded down to 600 grit and no sealer has been applied. The whole process is done with the pen still on the mandrel so just remove it from the lathe.

Step one.
Draw a pencil line from the black line at the top of the pen to the black line at the bottom of the top of the pen. Rotate the pen slowly while moving the pencil downwards and you should get a spiral shape. Using this line as a guide, draw another line parallel with the first one, about 5mm apart, and repeat this process until you have lines going all the way around the pen in parallel spirals.
Step 2
Starting at the top, touching one of your lines, do the same again but draw the line in the opposite direction, then another parallel with it and you should finish up with a lot of diamond shapes.
Step 3
Using a pyrography iron, carefully burn it the lines.
Step 4
Using Chestnut stains, paint in the colours in a random pattern. they will need two coats to make the colours stand out. The good news is, that because the stains are alchol based they dry very quickly, so by the time you have done one set of colours from top to bottom you can start again at the top with the same colours. This saves a lot of time cleaning brushes out between colours.
Step 5
Coat with as many coats of melamine lacquer as required till you get the finish you desire.

If you have any questions on the process please let me know.
Here is another Harlequin pen with a different set of colours.
In my next post I will be making something completely different, so please watch this space.