Productive Weekends

Last couple of weekends have been rather productive – managed to jump into some jobs that have languished for 12 months or more (some for 10 years!).  Getting rid of the 4 cubes of rubbish was certainly a good start, then getting some of the remaining cafe blinds installed.

Those are now up and completely installed, and the outdoor room is coming together.  Not that I am specifically looking for the modern concept of an outdoor room per say, more an outdoor area that is still sheltered from wind and rain.  Will be a great place to do some woodworking (wink, shhhhh!)  No idea how renovating competition TV shows manage to achieve so much in a few hours.  When doing a job like this properly, it takes so much longer than they ever show.

Got the first of the new sheds together as well – the fowl house that will be the new cat run.  Now once the AFL Grand Final is over, I might have a chance to get the other up.

Did a quick job for a friend as well – needing to make a bit of a modification to an entertainment unit, where the DVDs were catching on the top lip above the drawer.  There would be a number of ways to fix the problem, and tools that could have been used but the Torque Workcentre was by far the easiest.  Being able to secure the work down, then plunge a compression bit on an overhead-mounted router provided the best visibility of the cut, and finish.

Next weekend is the Woodfest (so long as the AFL isn’t a draw this year!), and two weeks after that the Melbourne woodworking show.

Productive times. Busy weekends

Feels Like Highschool

All over again! I’ve been swotting up for a ‘test’ tomorrow – the filming of Hand Tools for secondary schools/Tafes, with me presenting, over in the Ideal Tools workshop.

Handtools – oh crap!  Why couldn’t it be power tools?  I know how to use those!  This is going to be less than ideal (and in hindsight, it was, at least from my perspective – I don’t like taking about things I’m not inherently confident with)

I even took my ‘study notes’ to the Footy (Australian Rules Football). Had tickets from the retiring CEO of Richmond (Go Tigers!), so got some really nice seats, and even passes to get into the dressing room afterwards.

Sitting in the vicinity of Jeff Kennett (previous Victorian Premier), Julia Gillard (Australian Deputy Prime Minister) and of course, Stu (from Stu’s Shed!)

Turning Pens

In the past I’ve only ever used slimline pen kits for turning pens (and pencils), but I’ve been planning on trying some different styles.  I bought some at the Melbourne Wood Show last year, and again at the open day over the weekend I picked up another couple to try.

Unusually for me, I didn’t wait very long before giving them a go.  I was going to make a video at the same time, but I’m not thrilled with the result so will reshoot it (and that is an excuse to get another) 😉  I did catch some photos, so can step through the process.

Pen Mandrel

Pen Mandrel

This is my current pen mandrel.  It does the job, and has a #2 morse taper to fit the lathe, but I’m now planning on replacing / upgrading it to one with a chuck that allows the length of shaft to be changed to suit the pen type.  This current mandrel requires me to use various spacers depending on the pen being made.

Pen Blanks

Pen Blanks

The lower pen blank is actually resin, and is the one used for the pen that you’ll see at the end of the article. The other blank I used was a piece of red malee burl from “Brad’s Burls”.

Pen Kit

Pen Kit

This is one of the new (for me) pen kits I was giving a try.  It is an “Elegant Beauty” with a Rhodium / Black Titanium finish. As you can see from the price, it certainly isn’t the cheapest type of pen kit out there!

Turning the blank

Turning the blank

After boring a hole and gluing in the brass core, the blank is turned on the lathe, supported by the pen mandrel.  A pen mill was used beforehand to sqaure up the ends, and get the length precise.

Rather than the original live centre on the lathe which was too sharp and had the wrong angle of cone, I found this one (at the right of the mandrel in the photo), which is still accurately centred, but is blunt with a rounded end and as such is perfect for fitting into the end of the pen mandrel, supporting it.

Once the blank is turned, sanded and finished, I assemble using the JawHorse to squeeze then components together.

Red Malee Burl Elegant Beauty Pen

Red Malee Burl Elegant Beauty Pen

The other that I made at the same time is a Sierra Black Titanium pen with a black and orange/yellow/gold resin.  I made it for my wife who is a huge (AFL) Tigers fan.

Sierra Black Titanium Black and Gold Pen

Sierra Black Titanium Black and Gold Pen

I will revisit the video on making a pen, although I will make very clear now – I am by no means a good turner – I manage to get things round, but my techniques are nothing to write home about! However, if it inspires you to try to make a pen of your own, then objective achieved! And you don’t actually need a lathe (although it makes life a damned sight easier).  Many a pen has been turned by mounting the pen mandrel in a drill press and turning the pen vertically – using sharpened screwdrivers as chisels. However, there are plenty of cheap lathes out there, so there really isn’t a good excuse not to try.

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