Monthly Archives: March 2013

From Plywood to Pen

Today I was in an experimental mood. Things had gone well during the first part of the week in spite of a major snow event in my part of the woods. Up to 12″ in the area! In Minnesota we have, however, grown used to such things, and so have the folks in the MHD. They have some of the biggest snow plows and best heavy equipment operators in the nation. So we simply let them do their thing and we get back on the roads in no time. Its a pretty impressive thing to see a phalanx of heavy duties moving along at almost the posted leaving behind them a slick but clean roadway. A little salt or brine and in a couple of hours we’re busy as bees again.DSC_0015

I was happy to get into my shop for my usual “Turning Time” right on schedule and pretty well caught up on the duties of the week. I had been thinking about a couple of variations to the usual pen blank prep, coloration, and a corroborative style to go along with my American made shop apron my youngest gave me recently. So, here’s what I came up with. I chose a Wall Street II kit from Woodcraft. For the blank I selected a piece of 11 ply balsamic birch plywood. I ripped several sticks 3/4″ x 3/4″ x 20.5″ and then chopped them into 5″ blanks. I drilled the blanks and super glued the burnished brass tubes in place. I squared the ends with a pen mill attached to my handheld drill and I was good to go. Turning plywood was something I’d thought about and so I increased the speed of my little JET, selected my razor sharp carbide tipped chisel and had at it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had no problems at all!

For the finishing process there were at least two things I wanted to do: give it some color; and give it a durable high gloss finish. I wanted to see if I could match it up with the shop apron fabric I wear, so I had to get some unnatural color into the process. For that I selected an interior Martha Stewart custom mix sampler that I picked up at Home Depot. The sanding process was the hardest part for me. Why? Because I’m so impatient! So I sanded for a while, then I took a lunch break with my oldest daughter. We talked about, taxes, travel plans, and the weather out East. The dow was up at noon, the plot was getting thicker on the soap she watches and after my lunch break I went back to the project and sanding. I hope the enclosed pictures give you an idea of how things turned out. If you have any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear from you. I carefully screen all the comments that are sent, however, so don’t just add something in the hopes of seeing your perspective…If its in the interest of the common good of fellow turners it’ll be posted and responded to for sure.DSC_0016



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