A couple years ago, at one my regularly scheduled medical checkups, my GP told me he had saved some wood for me. It was a Dawn Redwood shrub, which he had planted several years previously, but which had become unattractive. When he cut it down, he decided the wood was too attractive to send to the landfill, so he saved it for me. I was quite honored.
This tree has an interesting background. Scientists had seen fossil evidence of it, but thought it was extinct. Then, in the 20th century, a valley in China was found where the tree was in existence. Within a decade, it had been exported all over the world as an ornamental. Today, although the tree is in no danger of going extinct, it’s native habitat is considered to be threatened from industrialization and population growth.
The tree loses all it foliage in the fall, however it is coniferous. The foliage turns pink before it falls. The pink color is where the name Dawn Redwood is derived.
I have the opportunity to finish a few pieces from this wood, from a fairly large bowl down to a few pens. Here are some pictures. The first 7 pictures are of the most recent bowl. This bowl was sold at a craft fair in the fall of 2017.
The next few pictures were of the first bowl I made from the Dawn Redwood. This bowl was sold on-line in the fall of 2016.
One of the first things I made from this wood was a small lidded jar. The lid of the jar is spalted maple and the knob on the lid is black walnut. I gave this piece to my GP to thank him for the gift of wood.
There is nothing earth-shattering or new here – I wanted a place to post some pictures with text for a friend of mine.
Turning pens with the standard mandrel:
I use a mandrel to turn pens when they are “7 millimeter” size. When they are larger than that I may or may not use a mandrel. There is a larger mandrel that is used for some larger pens from Berea hardwoods.
When I use a mandrel, I drive the mandrel with a 2MT collet.
This collet requires a drawbar – I use a long 3/8-NC bolt. The complete setup looks like this:
I turned the wooden knob to use with the lathe where this gets put on and taken off quite often. The other lathe where I use this set-up is almost permanently set up. I use a bolt with nuts and washers for spacers and there is no knob on the hand wheel end of the headstock (below).
I also use the MT2 collet to drive my three-wheel buffing setup, as well as my mandrel for bottle stoppers.
A few notes about the MT2 collets:
you do need to tap them out with a hammer – I loosen the drawbar a few turns and tap it with a brass hammer.
The collets don’t fit the mandrel “exactly” – the 1/4 inch fits the 0.246 (“7 MM”) mandrel pretty closely, but to fit the “B” mandrel (same size as an L drill bit), the 5/16 mandrel collapses considerably past its nominal size.
I also use a “mandrel saver” from PSI for the standard size mandrel.
The complete set-up looks like this:
Turning pens with barrel ID larger than the 0.246 mandrel:
I use a MT2 60-degree dead center in the headstock to drive the barrel and a 60-degree live center in the tailstock. These fit into the bushings for the pen barrel and center it better than a mandrel.
(The bushings don’t match the finished barrel in the picture above – the bushings are for the Sierra Vista while the barrel is for a standard Sierra).
Then, to finish the barrel, I remove the bushings and drive the barrel directly with the 60-degree dead center. This eliminates bringing the gray sanding dust (iron) from the bushing onto the barrel.
You will get a little slop-over of CA onto the end of the barrel – this can be sanded off, or even cut off with a sharp knife if the CA is not set up too hard. (I use a knock-out punch mounted in a Jacobs chuck in my tailstock and a purpose-built sanding disk that screws onto the 1×8 thread on the headstock.)
People, even some “experienced” penturners forget that the bushing needs some maintenance from time-to time. Things to look for in order of descending importance:
1: CA (or other crud) build-up on the step of the bushing. This is the area indicated by the point of the knife blade in the picture below.
2: CA (or other crud) build-up on the back of the bushing. This is the endof the bushing facing the camera in the photo below:
If this area is not clean, and you are running the bushings back-to-back (like on a Cigar pen), the bushing can cock slightly and throw BOTH barrels out of round.
3: Condition of the hole in the center of the bushing. The bushing should slip easily over the mandrel if a mandrel is used. Use a letter D drill but to clean and re-size the hole.
If a mandrel is not used, the end of the bushing that fits over the 60-degree center must be round and perhaps have a slight chamfer. Clean it up with a countersink mounted in a wooden handle.
4: Buildup of CA on the bushing. This can fool the woodturner into thinking the pen barrel is turned to size, when in fact it is still too large.
A couple weeks ago I started putting together a captured hollowing rig. I had seen one demonstrated a last year at our turning club and even had a chance to operate it for a few minutes. Continue reading “Captured Hollowing Rig”