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.

Wizards and Fairies

My little princess fairy was off at her weekly ballet/tap class on Saturday, so I got an hour or so to head down to the shed for a tinker.  Wasn’t enough time to start anything serious, but I did feel like making some sawdust and the tool that is most suited to that task is the lathe.  You can be standing knee deep in shavings in no time flat!

On this day, I also wanted to do some spindle work, seeing as I had been turning a few bowls recently, so looking around I spied an offcut of Purple-heart I had kept for just an occasion.  It was about 15mm x 20mm x 400mm or so.  Squared it up on the tablesaw, then mounted it in the pin jaws of a Nova chuck, then onto the DVR with the Nova Livecentre in the tailstock.

Running the lathe at 1000RPM for a quick rough to round, then at 3000RPM for the remainder of the time, I turned something all good little wizards and princess fairies needs.

A wand.

Purpleheart Wand

Not a particularly complicated design, nor even particularly fine on the shaft (has to survive a 5 year old’s use)  Gave a little texture to the handle with a skew chisel, and used a cloth to friction-burn some details.

Interestingly, and perhaps Larry may have some more information on this point:  The timber is currently not purple (it is straight off the lathe, and yet to see sunlight to change its colour), yet where I did a light friction burn (and before the wood went black), it has come up with the distinctive purple of purpleheart.

So what is the mechanism that changes purpleheart’s colour?  Is it sunlight, or UV or similar, or is it simply the temperature?

I know it isn’t very clear here – shot on an iPhone in bad lighting.

And the reaction from the recipient?  “Wow” “A fairy wand?”  (a rather confused look appeared on her face). “Where is its star?”

Guess I should have anticipated that question from the shows she watches 🙂

Be some time before she starts watching something with a bit more punch!


Incra Laminated Breadboard

Ever since seeing Perry McDaniel’s breadboard, I have wanted to try one myself – doesn’t look particularly complex, but it has been one of those projects I’ve just never gotten a round tuit.

tuitSo with the clamp review, and finally obtaining some purpleheart which I always planned to use as one of the timbers, I begun cutting.

First job was to get the dust extraction up to spec again – after finding the thicknesser blocked the DC inlet too quickly.  It looks a bit confusing in a photo – it is slightly less confusing in real life 😉

Dust Collector with Preseparator

Dust Collector with Preseparator

The tablesaw, and router feed directly into the DC.  The thicknesser and planer feed into the precollector.  There are 3 different sanders that happen to be feeding into there, but they don’t need as much air draw so they won’t suffer from any performance hit caused by the preseparator.  The bandsaw also feeds into that line, so will assess how it performs, but as a general rule it is also a pretty fine dust that will be fine with any lower air flowrate.

Once the machines were again online, I was able to take a piece of mahogany, and one of purpleheart and run through the inital stock preparation, with all the generated dust and shavings whisked away to the extrator.  To any really observent amongst you, yes, I have turned the DC around.  This gives me better access to the start/stop switch (and was necessary with the location of the precollector, as it pretty much blocked access to the back corner).  It also means that the demented spider of tubing is more intrusive into the shop, but again, necessity is the biggest force of nature!

Resaw with MagFence

Resaw with MagFence

I resawed both the mahogany and purpleheart, but I did my usual trick of trying to get too much yield out of the timber I have.  Sometimes a bit of wastage is necessary to get the stock you need, but it is a lesson I still need to learn.  I ended up, after dressing the timbers, with stock that was thinner that I wanted.  This does reflect that I am still struggling to find where to get good timbers from at a reasonable price.

Once all planed and thicknessed, it was time to move to the tablesaw.  For this project, I finally used the Incra LS Positioner on the tablesaw for the first time actually using it as a tablesaw fence.  I used the MagJigs to hold it down, which worked ok, but I found it did need some more holding force, so I will add an extra two MagJigs, which will be overkill, but there is no such thing as too much where it comes to locking down a fence securely.

Incra LS as Tablesaw Fence

Incra LS as Tablesaw Fence

On the tablesaw, I ripped increasing widths of timber, from 2mm to about 15mm wide.  This worked well with the Incra, although it would have been better if I had remembered that it is an imperial measuring system, not metric!  Even so, the absolute precision of the Incra worked well – it clicks into precise location without having to microadjust the fence position with a fist-tap (as is normal practice).  A really interesting look at the Incra system.

After taking the mahogany and purpleheart through the ripping process, they were then interleaved, and clamped in the Jet Bar Clamps, which are really nice I must say.  They stay balanced where they are put, whether horizontal or vertical, they don’t slip, clamp tight and really look the part.

 Mounting in the Jet Bar Clamps

Mounting in the Jet Bar Clamps

I haven’t glued these up as yet – consider this a dry-fit.

Storing vertical

Storing vertical

I didn’t realise how stable these clamps were when vertical, but the job was in the way at one point, and I went to put it on the floor, and did a double-take when it stayed quite comfortably where I placed it.  A definite bonus of this sort of clamp design IMHO.

Ready for glue-up

Ready for glue-up

This is as far as I have gotten with the project – next I will be gluing it up, topping and tailing it then rotating the ends through 180 degrees, finishing with a router dressing of the edges.  Mahogany wasn’t my first choice of materials – I wanted even more contrast between the lighter timber and the purpleheart, but even so, unfinished as it is, it still looks the goods.

So close yet so far

Had every intention today of picking up enough timber for either a small, or a normal sized workbench.  After all, it is been too long for me not to have a workbench in the shop, and my projects have been crying out for one.

Now I could always go the basic sort of design, MDF top capped with either thin MDF, or masonite.  Chances are, that is what I will end up with, at least for my first workbench, but I really have my heart set on having a solid jarrah workbench one day.

One of the site’s readers sent me a link to the Taunton Fine Woodworking site to see this workbench:

Taunton Workbench

Taunton Workbench

It is an Australian Woodworker, but his username on the Taunton site, afghh doesn’t provide me with any contact details to ask permission for his photo to be used here, so if he comes across this, a. sorry, b. can I have permission. c. if not, happy to remove the image! d. nice bench – how much did it cost, how long did it take? e. Is that you Fred? (There are not too many TS10L owners!)

What really struck me, is the tablesaw in the image is the same as mine – the TS10L, so it is obviously ideal for my shop as well.  It is a modification of the Lee Valley design.

Lee Valley Rolling Cabinet

Lee Valley Rolling Cabinet

When I priced up the Jarrah today at Mathews, it came to over $500, which floored me.  That much for enough Jarrah for a 1000x1000x65mm top?  I didn’t have time to recheck my calcs etc, so I ended up leaving without getting the timber I wanted.  I did pick up a length of PurpleHeart (5.4m x 150 x 50mm), which is a timber that I have wanted to have some of for ages for a few projects as a feature timber. That cost so much less (well under 1/2), so I keep looking at it and wondering if I should use it for the top, but then, is that really a good use for such a timber?  I suppose I was prepared to use Jarrah in that way, but that seems different somehow.

Perhaps I should just make it from gold – probably cheaper.

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