Boxelder & Brass

Recently I turned a box out of spalted Boxelder wood. It had some knots in it and I wanted to try something new …

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So I took some brass tubing and sanded it with a disc sander. I took the resulting brass dust, along with some super glue, and put it in the knots of the wood!

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{Click images for larger view!!}

It turned out beautifully. It’s super smooth to the touch and it simply glows. I love the extra pizzazz. I am keeping this particular box, but will definitely use this new brass technique again for sale pieces!

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Custom Order

A while ago, a lady contacted me about a custom order. She had a tree that had sentimental value, but they had to cut it down. And she was wondering if I could make some mementos out of it for her and her daughters.

We decided I should make what I’ve dubbed “Candle Boats”!

Here’s the process of how I made them:

The finished items!

Thank you, Caren! I hope you are all enjoying them!

P.S. Check out the updated About and Gallery pages!

P.P.S. Jill over at Green Bean Gardens is giving away two of my items! Check it out here. Giveaway ends Feb. 1st 2012.

Custom Orders

I love doing custom orders! They are often challenging, which is why I like them.

A few weeks ago, a lady saw one of my egg cups, and asked if I could make another so she could buy two. I ended up making the second one out of contrasting wood, which made a great his/her set.

Another custom order I’ve done was for deer antler pens. A man wanted pens made out of deer antler from a hunting trip he’d been on. We negotiated prices, and he ended up buying three!

One of the most interesting custom orders that I’ve had was to make something I’d never heard of before: sugar cone molds! I think it’s pretty sweet that some people still make sugar cones by hand. The lady who contacted me sent me a picture and dimensions, and I took a whack at it. This is how it turned out:

I actually ended up making two cone molds, and she bought them both!

It was really fun to make something totally new. Don’t be afraid to ask for custom orders. I just might be able to make what you want!

AAW Symposium

Recently I went to the AAW (which stands for the American Association of Woodturners) 25th Annual Symposium in St. Paul, MN. I learned an enormous amount of information from professionals from around the world. They had classes from 8 a.m. until around 5 p.m. three days in a row. I went to workshops by Michael Hosaluk, Alan Lacer and David Elssworth among others. And I saw Stuart Batty  and Jimmy Clewes in the Trade Show. Stuart Batty was doing demonstrations and videoing the sessions. He had six video cameras and tv’s set up, so people could see exactly what he was doing.

These guys are some of the best wood turners in America. I had seen a lot of their DVD’s, so it was really amazing to meet them in person!

I also went to Rex Burningham on making pens. One of the many things I learned at the symposium was how to make these mini pens! I use the same kit as I use for making normal pens, but Rex told us how to modify them. Basically you take the ink cartridge and cut it so it is shorter. You also have to use smaller pieces of wood. These mini pens are great for carrying around!

I learned a lot of other cool techniques for making pens which I will be trying in the near future!

Burls

A burl is a round growth that sticks out of a tree. Burls are beautiful and somewhat rare. The grain is crazy, filled with hundreds are dark ‘eyes’.

No one knows exactly what causes burls, but they know it has to do with the tree undergoing some kind of stress. It can be from an injury, bugs, virus, mold etc. Almost all burls are covered in bark. Burls can grow on branches, tree trunks, and even underground. One of the biggest known burls was found around 1984 in the small town of Tamworth, New South Wales. It stands 6.4 ft tall, and has a weird shape almost like a trombone.

I like turning with burls for the simple fact that they are beautiful. I bought this Black Ash burl from “the burl guy”, and turned it into a bowl. “The burl guy” comes to our woodturning club a few times each year with a pick-up load of burls.

This bowl was a challenging shape to turn, because it’s not totally round.

Even though it was challenging, I love the way this bowl turned out. If you set it on its side, you can imagine the tree trunk growing up with the burl sticking out of it. I love the natural look.

Here you can see the ‘eyes’ and amazing wood grain.

This bowl is for sale here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/76352177/unique-black-ash-burl-bowl

[Edit: This bowl is now sold]

At the moment I have a lot of burls waiting on my shelf to be turned. I can’t wait to get my hands on them!

Assembling a Pen

Actually turning the wood is only part of pen making. A lot of work goes into it before it even goes on the lathe. And there is a lot of work after it comes off, too!

First I have to find my wood, then drill a hole in it and glue brass tubing into the hole. The tubing will become the center of the pen. After that it’s ready for the lathe. Once I turn it, I put the finish on and am left with this:

(Note the brass tubing inside)

That doesn’t exactly leave me with a pen …

So I thought I’d show you how I assemble it! First I slide the writing tip into the brass tubing. I use my clamp to press them together.

Next I slide the twist mechanism into the tube, and press that into place as well.

After that I can slide the ink cartridge into the twist mechanism.

Then I start working on the top. I slip the clip and cap into place and press them.

Then slide the center band into place.

Then I slip the top on.

And wa-la! The finished pen, ready to photograph and go up on Etsy!