Trembleur Turning

This could easily be regarded as the ultimate in spindle turning.  It may not be your cup of tea, but the skill involved is unmistakable.


trembleur excentrique 2 buis 63 cm red IMAG0247 trembleur28mg6

A Heart of Purple

Sure has been some time since I finished making something, anything, so with the lathe up and running at least, turning out a pen was the go.

With a blank of Purpleheart from Carrolls, I got into it. Pens don’t take a lot of time, so it is an easy project to smash out.

Basic slimline design, and the wood oxidised by heat (rather than by sunlight). Purpleheart is quite a different colour when freshly cut, and typically is allowed to gain its purple hue by leaving it outside to soak up the rays. I have noticed in the past that friction also works to a degree, and produces a more mottled effect, which I have used here.


Small steps.

One turn deserves another

Teknatool have just released a beta jaw for testing by the great unwashed, which will particularly (and specifically) appeal to pen turners.

A beta, in the sense that it is a limited release, and subject to change I guess.

It is a 2 jaw, long nose set for holding square pen blanks for drilling on the lathe. I’d assume that once you finished that step, you can open the jaws wide enough to be able to slip your morse-taper pen mandrel in in through the chuck and complete the pen turning operation all without leaving he lathe.




At some stage, when I can get a set of these jaws, I will mount them on my Nova Titan chuck! The ultimate pen turner’s setup!

SSYTC047 GoPro High Speed Test

Ran a couple of tests with the new camera on its highest framerate setting.  Interesting results.

On the lathe, there wasn’t enough light, but I have some new ones worked out for when I am filming for real – the shed will look like it is residing in the near vicinity of the sun, and will be about as hot, but it will be good for any high speed shots.  Obviously, I won’t use those lights all the time, or even at full intensity, but they will be good when they are needed.

The GoPro is running at 240fps (frames per second), slowed to 12fps for the first test, and slowed to 25fps for the second (the lathe).  The lathe was running at 1000RPM.

SSYTC047 GoPro High Speed Test

Shed Archaeology

I couldn’t progress the pen making very far without the pen mill, and my scrounging didn’t turn it up anywhere.  Probably easier just to get another, and at the same time get one that actually works well.  The designs typically sold I find to be pretty ordinary – they are either blunt and cut so painfully slowly you are tempted to use extra pressure (which can result in chipping and/or burning), flop around inside the brass tube (despite apparently being designed for that pen type), and I can’t think of what other combinations of issues I have dealt with over the years.  Has anyone found a good one?

Heard of sandpaper versions, but not sure where they are sourced from (and what issues they have).  Think there is a definite market for a better way to square off the ends of a pen blank in line with the brass insert.

Standing at the lathe a bit later, in contemplation mode, and heard a familiar tick, tock.  The shed clock.  It was in another stack of crates nearby that I hadn’t looked through, so did the balancing act with them and went for a bit of a look.  Didn’t find the mill (but wasn’t really looking for it) – was hoping to find the tailstock of the Comet II (but it wasn’t there), but did find the other thing I was hoping to uncover: the Nova Titan II Chuck.

I previously thought I had found it, but that turned out to be a SuperNova2 chuck – fooled by the size for a second.  Once I saw the Titan, there was no possible mistake – it is bloody massive!  Will have a look around to find a suitable blank to mount up.


Can’t wait for the day when I can start unpacking these boxes and crates properly, and rediscovering things.

While looking for a better mill, I did find this mandrel saver at Carroll’s Woodcraft.

planetmandrelsaverIt is specifically for pen turning, and doesn’t push on the end of the pen mandrel (which can cause it to bend slightly if too tight, causing an off-centre oscillation).  Instead, the mandrel feeds through the mandrel saver, which instead pushes directly on the bushings.  This means there is no need for the knurled knob either, and therefore no slippage caused by it being slightly loose, and no distortion of the mandrel.  Very interesting.  If the ends of the blank were milled correctly, getting the mandrel saver a bit tight shouldn’t be an issue, as the load passes through the first bush, through the brass centre, through the second bush and into the headstock.

There is a MT1 and MT2 version (both pictured).  Again, if anyone has used this and has an opinion, I’d be interested to hear.  I’m quite tempted to try it out myself in any case.  To now I have used a live centre with a very blunt point with which to engage the hollow end of the mandrel (a sharp point tends to wander, causing a similar issue as if the live centre was pushing too hard).

Wonder what other developments are out there?

Creating Sawdust

After yesterday’s post, I decided to see just what I could do about it, even if in a very limited way.  One of the ideas was the computer-controlled side of woodworking – laser or CNC, but neither are particularly affordable.

Dropped into Carbatec, if nothing else than to have a bit of a tool-fix.  Picked up (as in literally, rather than purchased!) some Festool tools, such as the XL Domino and the TS55, played with the Kapex for a few secs.  I know, desperate stuff.  I might see if Carbatec would be interested in lending me a machine for a while – be a good way to experience the CNC Shark (or similar).

Chatted with the manager for a bit, who remembered some kits from one of their recent open days – for a bow saw they had made one Saturday of which they still had a spare.  That’ll keep me out of trouble for a little bit.

So this evening, I went into the garage, and after a spot of mountaineering was able to uncover enough of my woodturning tools to be able to do some pen turning.  About the only thing I couldn’t uncover was my pen mill.  I also can’t get to the drill press, so blanks have to be pre-drilled, and I still have some left over from Carrolls Woodcraft – some purple heart blanks from the Ballarat wood show in 2012.

Found an extension cord, and got the Nova DVR powered up.  Boy, is it a quiet machine!  I know I haven’t found everything, because other than the pen mill, the Nova Titan chuck is still MIA, as is the tailstock for the Nova Comet II.  I know they are in another box, as they were in a different part of the shed during the mad pack.  I wasn’t too worried about that at the time, but then I wasn’t expecting to be shedless even for this long.  They will resurface, just not at the present.

Made a little sawdust – have obviously forgotten everything (again), especially all the techniques Robbo showed me, so I was back scraping instead of cutting, but at least good timber was being reduced to shavings and scrapings.  It is a start at least.

Photo 25-05-13 21 45 20

There isn’t much room, trip hazards everywhere, tools lost in the detritus.  I feel right at home!

SSYTC046 Robbo’s baby lathe

Dropped round on Robbo recently, as he has been working gluing up a segmented block to turn into a table leg, and was about to turn it for the first time.  An opportunity not to be missed!  He didn’t do a great deal on the first day – too many competing priorities, but even so, it’s a pretty good segmented unit!

It was also being filmed for the forums, so any comments were directed to that camera.

SSYTC046 Robbo’s baby lathe

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