Carter Hollow Roller

At the wood show, looking around Carroll’s Woodcraft, and came across the Carter Hollow Roller. Complete with an overhead laser to demonstrate where the tip of the cutter is, so you can hollow out a bowl without being able to see where the cutter is contacting the wood, and so you can determine wall thickness.




Attending Hogwarts

As Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger have been learning over the years, simply being a wizard does not result in quality magic, unless there is plenty of practice, trial and error, and the Beall Pen Wizard from Carrolls is no different.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I haven’t had a chance to play with the Beall for a little while, so I was really happy to get it out for some trials and tests today, to start properly building an understanding of how it works.

I deliberately did not have any pens to test on – I wanted to concentrate on the Beall, and not waste time turning pens that I’d then want finished properly, and not just used for trials.  So instead, I have a length of dowel that I cut to pen-blank lengths, and drilled a hole for the pen mandrel and got into trying the Beall out.

If you have a bit of a mechanical mind, the Beall offers lots of possibilities.  With various gears and gear combinations possible, it will bring out the inner meccano engineer in any woodworker!  Its fun playing with all the different settings and combinations, but what’s even more impressive, is by changing the cutter, varying the depth of cut, changing the angle of approach of the cutter (top vs side of the pen, creating flats vs grooves), use (or otherwise) of the guilloche attachment (for wavy/sine wave patterns), and the reversing gear which is part of the gearbox, each gear ratio setting can produce a myriad of designs.  The total number of different designs is staggering.

I wasn’t worried about the quality of the finish at all – the dowel is pretty ordinary timber, unfinished and not sanded.  The point was to start discovering how to control the Beall, the various settings, and not producing a quality finish/result.  There is plenty of time for that, and better to learn how to use the machine properly, rather than trying to run before walking.  The first couple of pens I did a ways back did work out pretty well, but now I wanted to know how to reconfigure the gearbox etc. and get the most out of the ornamental lathe.

Just some of the different results without changing the gear settings at all (other than removal of the guilloche attachment), and three different cutters.

For much of the session, I used the Dremel with the flex shaft, but decided I actually preferred the Dremel directly attached to the Wizard.  The thread in the holding plate matches that of the Dremel – one of the reasons I got it, and it feels a lot more stable that way.  Let alone having better access to the on/off switch and speed control.

So a successful little session, and again putting the new workbench to good use.  Now I just need some form of height adjustable bar stool!


Nipped up to Carbatec to pick up a new Dremel so I could use it with the Pen Wizard. Been wanting one for ages, but needed a good excuse to go with the original brand of rotary tools, rather than some after-market ones I’ve had / have (GMC / Triton)  The Dremel threads straight into the Pen Wizard, and that is all the motivation I needed in the end.

I picked up the 400 Series (Digital), which came with a number of fittings and accessories, including a flex drive.  As I’ve said in the past, tools should not be cute, but the miniature versions of common tools (cut off wheels etc) invokes the “aren’t they cute” before you realise what you’ve said.  The digital allows you to preset the desired speed before switching on.

I didn’t buy any additional cutters etc, but I’ll need to, to get some of the fine cutters needed for pens.

The Pen Wizard still gives me the feeling that it needs looking after – it can definitely do the job, but not if you are rough with it.  With the Dremel screwed straight into it, I found it was a little light in balance – the Dremel making it a bit top-heavy.

Taking off the guilloche attachment, I cut a series of mild helices, then engaged the reverse gear and cut them again, producing a light knurled pattern.  The cutter was completely wrong for the job, but the ease of achieving the result was obvious.

Like any tool, it will take some time to become proficient, but once the basics are worked out (setup, cutters, getting the pen blank evenly turned), it will be very straightforward to get decent results.

I am particularly interested in seeing the results from using acrylic – again, the main thing that will affect the result is accurate, even turning.


Almost forgot to actually mention the new toy – been playing with it too much (not using it – haven’t graduated that far yet!) Playing with, reading about, and watching the supplied DVD.

It has gears, handles, gears, a guilloche attachment, more gears and a gearbox.  And it’s for woodworking!

Have you guessed what it is yet?

How about some imagery?

Yeah – more gears!

But does it give you an idea?  That wheel with holes in it is a bit of a give-away.

How about this view:

What do you mean “still no idea!”

But you see this is the tool, and it is cool, but perhaps you need to see what it can do, to know why. (And as I show these, I discover there are very few images on the results of this tool on the web!)

Yes, the new toy (uh, tool) is a Beall Pen Wizard from Carrolls Woodcraft.

It is a type of ornamental lathe, using a high speed rotary tool to produce all manner of pens, with wavy patterns, helices, knurlings, facets, and combinations of these.

You may not want every pen to have an element such as this, or perhaps you do – they make for distinctive pens, and can produce stunning subtle details as well as major features.

Now I obviously haven’t had enough time to actually use the Pen Wizard, let alone take my own photos, but this looks to b an impressive tool, and one that is actually larger, and more robust than I was expecting.  The amount of variety is impressive too – someone calculated there are 600 different combinations.  Not sure if that is true or not, but it does come with a number of alternate gears for different ratios, a reversing gear, and obviously the guilloche attachment with a number of different amplitude settings.

And that is without even considering the range of cutters that are available – straight cutters, flat-bottomed, cove end, laser point etc etc.

If you turn a lot of pens, it does get to the point where you are searching out more and more exotic timbers, or pen blanks, getting into segmented turnings etc to keep the hobby fresh.  With the Pen Wizard, you have not one extra string to the bow, but hundreds.  Choices choices!  And the novelty factor of these pens, when you show the pen off and they try to work out how you’ve done will be worth gold.

These are only imported into Australia by Carroll’s Woodcraft Supplies, so they are definitely the ones to contact if you are interested.  Cost is just under $400, which sounds expensive…..until you find you are selling the results occasionally.  It will only take a few pens to pay off the machine, and with only a few people making them, the novelty factor is high.

Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies

Had a bit of a roadtrip to make to Geelong and Clifton Springs, so it was a no-brainer to drop around the corner to Drysdale, and drop in on Jim and Irene at Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies.  I had my first look around the actual store a month or so ago, but because of other circumstances I literally got to spend about 60 seconds there to say hi as I rushed on by.  This time I made sure that I had a nice large window.

The reason I say their ‘actual’ store is I feel like I’ve seen it many times before, in many different locations.  When Jim & Irene hit a woodshow (and they hit a great number of them!) they seem to take their entire shop with them (see the photo at the end of the article of a photo I took at the Melbourne Wood Show last year).  Turns out that isn’t the case – their product range in-store is even larger.

Carroll's Woodcraft Supplies

Irene is lurking in the background – suddenly vanished out of the view when the camera made an appearance!  This view will actually be changing soon – Carrolls is having a bit of a makeover – an expansion which will result in a new entrance around the side of the store, complete with a dedicated driveway.  It is a bit off the road, so don’t be surprised having to find the store down a drive rather than on the roadside.  The storefront here is also quite misleading – it looks like it’d be a very small store, but what it lacks in width, it certainly makes up for in length.  Not quite a Tardis effect, but I guess that technology is still a little way off.

Counter, mags, and isles to explore.

Books, Kreg, and lots of bits n pieces

Project hardware (barometers, clocks, brass etc)

Finishes, in particular a good selection of Ubeaut, which coincidentally is made not that far from here (in Geelong)

Pen kits, blanks, CA, sanding disks


Tormek / Grinder / Sharpener Section – where my T7 came from (funny that).  To the left will be the new store entrance when the upgrades are finished, and to the right is the large shop expansion.

So that was a bit of a look around Carrolls.  Guess I could have gone into more detail, but I was too busy chatting with Jim and Irene (and Stephen)  Ah well, think you get the gist of the place!

Carrolls at the Wood Show

Melbourne Timber & Working With Wood Show 09 Day 1

Show Time!!

Had a great day one – still really enjoy wood shows.  The day absolutely flew past, so I have hardly scratched the surface of the displays that are there.  Good catching up with everyone who came along and said hi, and welcome to anyone who has now discovered Stu’s Shed because of the show.

I’m sure those who have taken the MagSwitch gear are already discovering why I like it so much 🙂

Vesper Tools, and the long expanse of Carrolls

Vesper Tools, and the long expanse of Carrolls

Got to say hi briefly to Chris (Vesper) and see some of his latest creations.  What I like about his display, is even though the tools he makes are works of art (particularly those in the display cabinet), there is a wide selection of his products out on the bench where you can have the full tactile experience.  I will get more photos over the next couple of days of Chris’ tools, and the other stands around the place.  Today, I almost forgot that I had a camera with me!

A very busy Tormek Display

A very busy Tormek Display

The Tormek guys are active as always, so a great opportunity to pick their brains about the finer points of show speed wetstone wheel sharpening methods, see the different jigs that are available (and pick up a T7, as quite a few appeared to do today – their stock levels where dropping noticeably quickly!)



Gabbetts machinery were there with the full cabinet SawStop, as well as the more recently released contractor’s version.  When you hear an airhorn (approx every 2 hours), you better hightail it to their display because another hotdog is about to put its life on the line for your education (and entertainment).  No matter how many times I see it, I still enjoy seeing the SawStop mechanism render the saw safe in such an incredibly fast manner.



Looking for a router bit? The the impressive range of Australian-made Carb-i-tool router bits is certainly worth a visit.

Impressive Burls

Impressive Burls

Some impressively large burls ready for finishing into unique furniture.

CNC Router from Carbatec

CNC Router from Carbatec

Looking a bit like a computer printer that carves, rather than prints on wood, this CNC router is running during the day, demonstrating how it created the Carbatec sign seen here.

That would certainly make routing rather easy!

Closeup of CNC-carved sign

Closeup of CNC-carved sign

SitCo Australia with Queen Ebony

SitCo Australia with Queen Ebony

I first came across SitCo in Brisbane, so it’s great to see them down here as well.  They have a really nice collection of Queen Ebony for sale, and you can get some really nice pieces without breaking the budget.  They also have some musical-grade timbers as well, but talk with Brian if you are after anything particular.  The end-grain of Queen Ebony is particularly impressive, and it is a very dense timber.  Lots of different shapes and sizes, so ideal for boxmakers and wood turners alike.

Turned Queen Ebony

Turned Queen Ebony

A couple of beautifully turned bowls by Guilio Marcolongo, which are being silent-auctioned off for the Royal Childrens Hospital.  Doesn’t show up here, but the Queen Ebony has gone an incredibly deep black.  This is not ebonising, but is the natural colour this timber goes once it has time to oxidise.  To speed up the oxidisation process the timber is exposed to household ammonia.

So that’s all I have for day 1.  Sorry – was too distracted by the wood show!  Will try to get more detailed photos etc from the show tomorrow 🙂

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