What goes into making a hand-crafted "Pen?" First of all you have to buy a "kit" from one of the many suppliers. Most of the kits are imported from the pacific rim countries since they seem to be able to produce the parts and styles for the least amount of expense. I will talk about them in another post, however, since today was given over to the other most important part of a custom pen, the body, let me focus on the process I follow preparing them for turning.
This morning, after I delivered my grandson to school, I made my way to one of the local wood supply shops in the Twin Cities. Most of their products are made on a custom order basis and most of their woods are domestic. They do, however, handle a great selection of exotics used in the custom crafting of everything wood for fine homes throughout the US. I go there from time to time to see what they may have in the cutoff area and carefully go through the inventory to pick out something that catches my eye and looks as though it will allow me to make a pen with great character. Today I was able to pick up some Tiger Wood and a very nice piece of burled walnut. In both instances a planned to cut the boards down to end up with some cross grained as well as straight grained blanks.
I don’t make up too many blanks at a time as each one of my pens is crafted as seems proper. I match the different kits with the different blanks before I do any cutting or turning. After I have examined the wood I draw out the cutting direction and make all the blanks 3/4" x 3/4" x 51/4". This morning’s wood products yielded about sixty blanks. I save the smaller cut-offs to be used in glue up objects. All the sizes of blanks and pieces of the same species are kept together. With the blalnks cut, I then write on each one the wood species so that when finished I will be able to accurately describe to the end user the source and type of wood used to make their pen. Some of the Tiger Wood I placed in my CedarShield chamber to begin the process of stabilization by immersion. Those blanks will soak for 24 hours, and then I will take them out and rack dry them for 72 hours. This process I usualy save for wet or green wood, but as an experiment of sorts I tried some of the already dry Tiger wood. Since it was already kiln dried I didn’t bother to test it with a moisture meter to see its H2O content, nor did I weigh the pieces before their 24 hour bath.
Since I was in the cutting and labeling mood I sized some, Bamboo, Ash, Maple, Hickory, Cherry and stgraight grained Walnut that I had on my shelves. I ran out of time for that project and will get some pictures up later.
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