Celtic Knot Pens #1: One way to do it

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Blog entry by Gary posted 09-06-2007 04:24 PM 11969 reads 21 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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This was requested from multiple sites, so I did one for everybody.

Here’s some photos of my process;
I only had enough time to do a two-ring knot, but it’s
all the same to make a four-ring knot accurately if you follow these steps.

This shows the miter sled, the length of contrasting wood for the slices, and the bloodwood blank I’m going to use.

I’ve already squared the blank so that all four sides are the same size.
I randomly pick a side and mark it 1.
Side 2 is 180-degrees to (or, opposite of) side 1.
Side 3 is one of the two remaining sides and side 4 is 180-degrees (opposite) side 3.

This photo shows I’ve marked the blank where the slices
will go and clamped a stop block in place along the fence.

Now, I clamp the blank tight to the fence and the stop block.

Here we’ve cut thru the blank. That’s NOT my hand in the photo—it’s part of the clamp.
My hands are safely distant from all spinning metal at all times while doing this.

After gluing in my slice (Goncalo alves and aluminum, in this case),
I place the blank back on the sled clamped tight to the fence and stop block again.
This time, side 2 is up and I’m going to cut thru the first slice that was glued in.

From here out, it’s just more of the same until I’m ready to cut the blank to length.
Since we’ve marked the blank 1, 2, 3, 4 and the stop block makes repeated positioning a no-brainer all we have
to do is follow the numbers and glue in the contrasting material for each cut in turn.
Then I switch to a cut off sled that’s 90-degrees to the blade and clamp the blank on the mark.

The zero-throat on the sled keeps everything in place and accurate.

Once the pieces are glued in and you’ve drilled thru the center of the blank,
it’s just a matter of turning it to the desired shape.
Here’s my upper barrel:

I hope y’all find this useful and make many beautiful pens. As I’ve learned from many here, share and enjoy.

-- Gary, Florida

16 comments so far

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5323 days

#1 posted 09-06-2007 04:46 PM

Great work Gary. Now we can see how you make those great pens. The pictures help a lot.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5198 days

#2 posted 09-06-2007 06:38 PM

Thanks Gary! I was just looking for explanations of this process. I was talking to Bob and Wayne about it just yesterday. Thanks for the tutorial!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5323 days

#3 posted 09-06-2007 06:40 PM

Yea, I could not wrap my brain around how that was done. I thought Gary was gluing up entire sections to do that. Now I see it is more like a deep inlay instead.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5322 days

#4 posted 09-06-2007 06:43 PM

ah hah!!!
thank you so much for sharing this process.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5198 days

#5 posted 09-06-2007 10:32 PM

Bill, this method takes advantage of the fact that you are turning away alot of the blank. With the piece cut most of the way through, there isn’t the chance of sending that small cutoff flying across the shop with the small piece getting a ride courtesy of a saw tooth, it allows for easier assembly as the contrasting wood as it just slides into the kerf rather than having sliding pieces and trying to clamp them or hold them to glue. You are going to be turning away the 1/16th or so anway. The contrasting piece has to be exactly the kerf of the saw blade for this to work, but as evidenced by Gary’s final product, the trouble is worth it with that sort of outcome!

Thanks Gary! I was going to do this by cutting all the way through. Your method is much safer, producing the same outcome with less trouble.


-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5259 days

#6 posted 09-06-2007 10:51 PM

Have you tried this method with Corian or other man made materials? Some interesting possibliities are starting to come to mind.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Daren Nelson's profile

Daren Nelson

767 posts in 5067 days

#7 posted 09-17-2007 02:05 AM

Glad I found this site. I turn a few pens, usually use figured wood, but I like to experiment with new tricks. I checked out your pens along with others projects before I signed up and was impressed. I have not played with the pen lathe for quite some time, reckon I will soon, you gave me some ideas. I will post pictures if I come up with something “new”. All the further I ever got was drilling and doweling blanks for a little color in my “plain wood”. Yours are much sharper.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5322 days

#8 posted 09-19-2007 01:26 PM

more unique pens!!
So impressive!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Gary's profile


1491 posts in 5486 days

#9 posted 09-20-2007 09:13 PM

Most of what I know about creating pens I’ve learned from two primary sites:
IAP and TPS or from generous friends, most of whom I’ve met online.
I believe experimentation is the road to winning designs, and you’ve got a good foundation started!

-- Gary, Florida

View Karson's profile


35276 posts in 5562 days

#10 posted 09-20-2007 10:08 PM

Thanks Gary for the demo.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View BlueStingrayBoots's profile


866 posts in 5164 days

#11 posted 09-21-2007 04:45 AM

So theres basicly no limit to the amount of inserts?

As long as there in a uniform pattern, seems easy now Gary.

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 5406 days

#12 posted 12-06-2008 04:36 PM

Gary – just ran across this, I have seen some of your pens and tried to glue separate pieces. Sometime as humans we try to over-engineer what should have been a much simpler process. Thanks for sharing.

-- Joel Tille

View GaryBuck's profile


268 posts in 4388 days

#13 posted 10-31-2009 03:54 PM

Well call me totally disapointed! All I got was a bunch of “x” out boxes,, couldn’t get it to show the pics. any sugestions? In any case I’m totally blowed away by your work. I want a lathe sooooo bad, anybody got an extra one just laying around they want to give away to a poor boy? L.O.L. Any way thanks for sharing I’ll be watching for your post,,, those like all the others here on LJ’s just get me fired up to try them out.

View a1Jim's profile


118163 posts in 4739 days

#14 posted 10-31-2009 10:10 PM

I’m sure there great but I’m not getting the photos.


View Gary's profile


1491 posts in 5486 days

#15 posted 11-01-2009 02:51 AM

The links the photos point to are to a web site that’s been long removed.
I’ll be on business travel this coming week. When I return, I’ll see if I can locate the originals and
upload them somewhere else wherein I can update the links.

In the meantime, there’s a downloadable copy of the blog in PDF format available with photos from
the IAP website. Here’s a link to the file: Making an accurate, repeatable Celtic Knot


-- Gary, Florida

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