Sunday, September 28, 2008

More Corian

I'm getting into production mode with these. I'm able to make them consistently of high quality in a relatively short amount of time. The most time consuming part is having to keep sharpening my gouge. Corian is hard on carbon steel tools. I really need to invest in some higher quality tools.

But in the meantime...

Purse Pen - Acorn and Gold
My wife needed a pen she could toss in her purse. I thought about getting one of the small pen kits made for wallets/pockets/purses but I hate those tiny things. So I made her one from Acorn Corian with a 24k gold slimline kit. I left the clip off since they just get in the way when in a purse. She loves it.

Slimline in Sahara and Gold
Another one made from the same kit as the above purse pen. I have settled on this profile for the bulk of my slimline pens because it seems to be easiest to write with. The gentle swell of the barrel from the waistband gives enough weight to the pen to balance it nicely. The weight of the Corian, significantly heavier than wood, helps with that too.

If you've never written with a weighty pen, give one a shot. You'll find that your cursive flows much easier, and even if you're a block letter writer like me you will find your writing to be more legible and easier on the hand.


Euro / Designer in Storm Blue and Black Titanium

I really like this color Corian. Corian describes it this way:
Deep denim blue tone with small particles in brown, blue and white
I couldn't have said it better myself.

These pens, and their clones, will be for sale soon at

Friday, September 26, 2008

Working with Corian

Today I received some blanks from another penturner. They were Corian and Formica.

I decided to spin up one just to see what it was like to work.

It cut reasonably well on the table saw, so I squared up one end and cut blanks for a common 7mm slim pen kit. Drilling was about like a typical acrylic blank. Noisy and needs small bites to keep the blank and/or the bit from overheating.

I glued the bare brass blanks in with 5 minute epoxy and let them set for an hour or so.

Turning made a bigger mess than the acrylic blanks usually do. It looks like it snowed on my lathe! I did take very fine cuts initially until I got the hang of the material. I'm glad I did! At one point the gouge slipped and nicked the blank I wasn't working on. The momentary contact at around 1500 rpm took a series of gouges out of the blank. Luckily they were in the waste portion of the blank, so I didn't have to repair it or do a redesign to cover it up.

I sanded starting at 400 grit through 2000 grit using automotive wet and dry sandpaper with KleenStrip's KS Pro Paint Thinner as lubricant. I like that stuff because it's odorless and doesn't attack your skin like regular mineral spirits can. I just wear a face shield to keep it out of my eyes and mouth.

After sanding I polished the barrels with Meguiar's Plast-X plastic polish.

As you can see, the end result looks terrific! I have many other colors that came in that package, so I'm going to have a little bit of fun!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Herringbone Pen in Maple and Padauk


(Inside joke. Please ignore if your name isn't DAVE and you're not home playing hooky.)

I didn't take any pics of the process (I'm a dummy) but here's the final result. I think the padauk and maple is too gaudy. But it was a good test of the concept!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

First Fountain Pen

This is based on the Penn State Industries Designer 24kt Gold Fountain Pen Kit. I turned the barrels from tulipwood.

The pen kit was a challenge because it needed more than just a 7mm hole and some bushings to make. I needed to use a pair of step drills and drill to a very precise depth. Then I had to cut a tenon in the cap to hold the center band. I have not needed to do that much yet with a pen kit.

It was fun!

The finish was done with CA. I used the Gel this time and it worked great. Being so thick I was able to get nice thick coats on the barrels easily. Sanded and polished it looks like glass. Outstanding finish.

I'm taking it to work today and see how it is to write with. The nib is a bit bigger than the ones I'm used to with the dip pen in my Blue Mahoe Dolphin set, so we'll have to see. I can purchase different nibs for these, though it's a bit difficult to swap them.

Definitely a beautiful pen that should get some oohs and aahs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Small Notebooks in Cherry and Blue Mahoe

Shown in the photos with a Parker stainless steel mechanical pencil.

The paper is 3x5" index card. I found some with a graph print so it can be written on in either direction.

These will soon be for sale with a matching chrome and cherrywood pen for around $50 to help launch my sales business.

The notebooks are bookmatched cherry. Some will have trim of various woods such as this blue mahoe (I'm out of BM though, so maybe not unless I can get my hands on some more).

As usual, the discs are from Rollabind, in this case they're chrome plated. I'm not a fan of the plating, but I've gotta get rid of this bag of the things I have.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

About Shellac

Many of my projects use shellac in at least some part of the finish. It was the first finish I was able to apply well, it's a natural and renewable product (at least, when mixed yourself... Off the shelf stuff may not be fully natural), and it looks great.

The only downsides are low abrasion resistance and low liquid resistance. That's it. Not so good for table tops, great for pens!

The pencil shown in the photo at right is made from kingwood finished with several coats of 1# shellac. This was my first penturning attempt and I still use it every day. The finish is still great. has some good info on shellac. Their "Why Shellac" article is good:

Shellac is a good choice for
furniture, smal craft, and wood instruments because it is ..

  • Beautiful, Lustrous
  • Easy to apply
  • Dries within minutes
  • Sticks to almost anything!
  • Seals in minutes
  • Can be recoated within 15-20 minutes if wiped
  • Can be recoated within 2 hours if brushed
  • Infinitely easier to rub out
  • Easily repaired
  • Has good clarity
  • Completely reversible
  • Feels well in the hand
  • Offers a wide range of colors without sacrificing clarity
  • Environmentally safe
  • Healthier
  • Compatible with most other finishes
  • Once you shellac, ain't no going back!
And they missed one of the most important reasons: It's a renewable resource and fully natural!

Shellac is made from secretions of the Lac bug. It is sold either prepared or in flake form that you mix yourself with denatured alcohol. Shellac is used for more than just wood finishes. It can be found in medicines as a pill coating and packaged foods to add a shine to glazes or candies. It's completely edible when cured and safe around children.

If you haven't tried shellac yet, get a small can of prepared shellac and play with it. If you like it, buy some flakes and alcohol and start mixin' yer own.