As The Lathe Turns #29: Sidetracked

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Blog entry by William posted 04-19-2013 12:12 AM 2310 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 28: Squaring Solution - Shop Made Pen Blank Squaring Tool Part 29 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 30: The Lumberjock Pens »

I know. I am supposed to be working on a marble machine. I have a little, and I promise a post on that a tad bit later this evening. The thing is though, I have gotten sidetracked. I hate to sound like I’m making excuses, but I’ve had a rough week so far. I have been in a lot of pain. Sometimes the pain gets to me and I’m easily distracted from something I am supposed to be doing. Recently I have learned that turning is a favorite diversional tactic of mine when the pain wears on my mind. So I have a few turnings to show.
I became tied up over last weekend. Then, early in the week, someone I consider a good friend and I exchanged visits between our shops. Upon going to his shop, he gave me some wood. All of it was beautiful, but one certain piece offered a specific challenge to me. It was a piece of cherry with a knot in it that made most of the wood around it seem unusable. I was determined to get something done with it though. The twisting grain in it just intrigued me.
Most of the board could easily be cut into pen blanks. It was that area around that knot I wanted to get at though.

I chopped around it. Some of it shattered into pieces, flying off my saw as tiny projectiles that scared the living daylights out of me. I was able to get some small piece though just around the inner part of the knot. None were long enough for full pen blanks, but I had an idea to add accent pieces to them to give them enough length.
The above photos show the first pen I made with these pieces. The cherry offered some absolutely stunning grain. The middle, lighter colored wood on both side of the metal ring, is maple. The dark rings at each end are ziricote.

My friend also knew someone who needed some drumsticks. As usual too, I went a little overboard with that. I had never turned drumsticks, but seen it as a learning experience. The most important thing I learned was that I can turn them, but if I was a good finish I’m going to have to build a steady rest to cut down on the chatter. That’s alright though. My friend also gave me some bearings to build the steady rest with. That is a future project I will design in my head until I can get to it.
I made drumsticks in several different species.




This is mystery wood.
I am calling it mystery wood because I haven’t been able to identify the exact species yet. It looks similar to mahogany, but I’m reluctant to call it that until I am more sure.

Here is a better shot of it. It is hard to see the grain in the drumstick photo. It is straight grain, very hard, and as I said before, an absolutely beautiful piece of wood.
I would highly appreciate any opinions I get about what wood this is.

I then had fun with a screwdriver. This is an old screwdriver. My friend bought it at a flea market and it wasn’t working right. I disassembled this antique with pleasure. I have always loved working on anything mechanical in nature. I got it to working, but the handle was worn out and badly cracked. So I decided to also turn a sapelle handle for it. Upon returning the tool, my friend surprised me by giving it to me. So this goes into my working collection of antique tools. What I mean my usable collection is that I would never own a tool that I can’t use, no matter how old. If I can’t use a tool, I find someone to give it too who prefers collecting. I’m a user, not a collector.


So, the last couple of days I did get back on track. I wanted to show you all what I was doing though while sidetracked off of what I was supposed to be doing.


11 comments so far

View boxcarmarty's profile


17186 posts in 2874 days

#1 posted 04-19-2013 12:29 AM

DRUM 101
Although a drum stick can be turned from oak or maple, It is most commonly made out of hickory…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3532 days

#2 posted 04-19-2013 12:47 AM

William, you seem to be doing the right things! You may want to check where I made a steady rest and found this design worked very well for me. I made another larger one to meet the capacity of my lathe which is 20” because I was making a larger vase and needed a support for it. I based the larger one on the same design. There are other designs out there but all are similar with few differences. Good luck on making it, I have every confidence that you will find ways to improve it however slight. My suggestion is to make the inside of the wheels at maximum capacity of your lathe.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3356 days

#3 posted 04-19-2013 12:56 AM

I actually tried hickory Marty. The problem is that the only hickory I had access to at the moment was a hunk that had at one time had worms in it. I tried five or six tries at making hickory sticks. Each one wound up with either a worm hole in a spot that weakened it, or a small knot that interrupted the straight grain and weakened it. I will try the hickory again when I can get my hands on it. What little I was able to do I realized I enjoyed turning hickory.

Bearpie, thanks. I will be sure to check out that steady rest as soon as I get a chance. I will be making one of those in the future. I don’t see me needing one often. However, if and when I do need one again, I’d like to have it at the ready.


View DIYaholic's profile


19862 posts in 3189 days

#4 posted 04-19-2013 01:05 AM

You were doing what needed to be done.
You wouldn’t do ANYTHING….
That didn’t NEED to be done!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3356 days

#5 posted 04-19-2013 01:10 AM

Thanks for the vote of confidence Randy, but lately I have so much that “needs” to be done.
Ever since I made the trip to Georgia to see my Mom, I haven’t been able to get back to myself.
I think that trip took more toll on me than even I realized.

Since returning, my pain has been pretty bad, but touch and go.
I’ve had to take breaks even more often than normal.
I can’t hold onto anything, my nerves are shot (from the pain and the meds)
I can’t think straight. I’ve been even more forgettful and absentminded than normal.
I’ve been short tempered a lot of days.
The list goes on, but it all adds up to one thing.
Lately, there just isn’t enough hours in the day that I’m able to keep going.


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3817 days

#6 posted 04-19-2013 03:04 AM

well this was a great blog and im glad to see you going further into your different wood working skills, i cant wait to see what you next, but right now the best thing you could do is play the full version of WIPE OUT with them sticks…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stefang's profile


16752 posts in 3848 days

#7 posted 04-19-2013 10:46 AM

Great looking wood and a beautiful pen too William. I agree with you on using old tools. They are happier that way. I don’t have anything against collectors as they are saving these old tools from oblivion, but working them is a lot better way to honor them in my opinion.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3356 days

#8 posted 04-19-2013 12:25 PM

Sorry Grizz. I’ve already sent the sticks on their way to the guy who needed them. There will be no Wipe Out for me unless I put it on the stereo.
As for what’s next, I need to finish the marble machine. However, beyond that, and my many more ideas, a hunter friend the other day dropped off a box of deer antlers. I’m anxious to try that.

Mike, thank you and I’m glad you like the pen. When I seen that board, with all the large cracks around the knot, it just screamed challenge to me.
I like to use old tools. I’m not exactly a hand tool guy. As a matter of fact, I like my tools with the biggest horsepower motor I can find on them. It is something relaxing to me though to pull out the antiques for certain things and work with them. This screwdriver is a perfect example. It will come in handy when I have a screw to drive that is too tough to easily do with a regular screwdriver, but in material that is iffy enough that I don’t feel a power drill would be wise.


View BillNel's profile


11 posts in 3206 days

#9 posted 04-20-2013 04:05 AM

That top pen is one I would gladly buy. I love the style.

The reason hickory is used for drumsticks is because of the strong interlocking grain. Drummers tend to whale on their drums and most woods won’t stand up to the abuse.

Degame (Calycophyllum candidissimum) is another possibility. Its characteristics are very similar to hickory, but it is a pale yellow color.

Osage Orange is supposed to be pretty tough and might also work.

-- Bill

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3318 days

#10 posted 04-20-2013 12:16 PM

Those pens came out nicely. I have a few o those kits on their way to me as I type this. Nice drum sticks also. Ringo would luv em.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3356 days

#11 posted 04-20-2013 01:00 PM

Thank you Bill. I will keep all that in mind as I stay on the lookout for wood to use for future drum sticks.

Roger, the Designer style kits are a tad pricy for my budget. I got them in a package deal that PennState had going on. I recieved two Designer, two Comfort, and two of two other kinds I can’t remember. It still wasn’t worth the money though because a couple of the pen kits were just slimline kits basically (which are way cheaper). I like a lot of the kits offered, but they can get expensive quick. I have to find a way to sell some of these before I can attempt higher priced kits. The ones I want to try though are the bolt action bullet pens.
One day, my friend, one day.


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