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!


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.

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