30 projects in 30 days #3: review

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Blog entry by scottb posted 12-16-2008 03:42 AM 1142 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: thirteen days in... Part 3 of 30 projects in 30 days series Part 4: Round II, June 2009 »

Here’s the “class” photos for weeks 2, 3 and 4. check out my projects for more pix/details

2 bowl “box” and pens from Hawaii

pens, closed ended bamboo pen, paper pot making tool, bottle stoppers and a mushroom box

Square bowl, pens and an eccentric tree.
(missing from the last photo is the bing cherry/pecan pen.)

The weeks where I had some pen blanks pre-prepped made for easy days, regardless of when I got home from work, and still had to turn, take photos and post the projects online. (Facebook, here and at the actual 30 in 30 site.)

Am I glad I did this? You bet. I’ve gotten a much better handle on my turning (though I know I’m using the skew wrong), and I’m much better at sharpening.

Surprisingly, there were very few projects that didn’t work out. I had a much better success ratio than I would have guessed. The lilac bottle stopper was an experiment in the first place, so that wasn’t a surprise. Getting the hang of the Bic pens took a bit, my first one in Bamboo exploded when I was turning it. The spalted maple/blackwood one, was a “fix” that didn’t quite work, a fix only necessary because I reversed the bushings my accident. A fix that would have worked perfectly if I had a collet chuck, or pin jaws for my 4 jaw chuck. – however the fix on that enabled me to get that last pen turned to successful completion, the blood orange one (Osage and bloodwood) the bloodwood makes up for where the osage root tore out beyond repair. (following the previous osage atlas pen that cracked just as I was assembling it. I was bound and determined to make a functioning pen out of that beautiful wood.

Financially was this event a success? Kind of. I’d already had all the kits from previous excursions out to woodcraft last April, and before. So in a manner of speaking I didn’t have to spend any money to get things out there. I did buy a few more bottle stoppers to make sure, if the bowls and boxes didn’t work out, that I would still be able to make 30 items. I was doing this just as much for practice, as I was for getting friends and family some top notch pens for cheaper than at the higher end art and craft fairs. So, yes I did make some money (in the end, profit exceeded double cost if I remember correctly – which I wish was all to be reinvested in my lathe, but went towards Christmas and/or life expenses… at least all these pens were made and found great homes and I didn’t have to give them all to my little one in lieu of other things. And while I could dwell on what my hourly rate could have been (not too bad actually if you only count the time spent turning – I spent much less time turning than I did with all the pix and blogging). I remind myself that I couldn’t have paid for the knowledge I got from this experience. I couldn’t have picked this up (and retained it) from a class at any price. (Though I still am hoping Santa gives me a certificate for a class. I took a five-week spindle turning class, but I’ve had to figure out faceplate turning on my own.

At present, I have very few of these projects left. (Just three of the stoppers, and three of the pens) Most sold during the auction, or when family was here for my Birthday or Thanksgiving. Just seeing them really helped. I did put two of them in the LJ pen traders swap box that I just shipped off today, and two were slated to be Christmas presents (if they didn’t sell) so I quickly pulled those two off the table as soon as the timer wound down.

Did this turn me off from wanting to use the lathe, or be in the shop? I did take a few days off after 12/1. but I have been back at the lathe several times in the past week or so. Still had a few Christmas presents to take care of (can’t post them yet, but they are done!). and I’m even working on a couple projects for fun, possibly prototypes for future gift giving, but it’s nice making some things, for no reason, while I’m still in “lathe mode.”

Did I really make a mess of the shop, (going from work to lathe to camera to computer?) I’d spent many weekend last winter trying to get the shop clean enough to get to work in. I never quite got to the point where I wanted to… and cranking out all these projects hasn’t helped matters. I feel like I’m back to square one on that score. I have tools, shavings and wood all over the place. Come to think of it, if I can get all the wood organized (again), it won’t be so bad. (Some days I think I’ll never be ready for my shop inspection from Ms Debbie P)

I expect I’ll be doing this challenge again next year, but I’ll be trying some more ambitious designs and kits. I wonder about the sales aspect (if the economy isn’t any better) because I’ll have to be selling at a higher price point. Anyhow, between now and then I’m going to tackle another 30 days project leading up to Easter – making Eggs. But those will be for me, for “fun.” So they’ll be a bit less pressure on myself with that challenge. In the meantime I’ll be collecting some interesting woods to make a bowlful of eggs from.

Anyone up for joining me next time for their own 30 day challenge?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

4 comments so far

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4307 days

#1 posted 12-16-2008 05:03 AM

You had a very productive 30 days. It was fun to watch your progress. Thanks for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Karson's profile


35207 posts in 4941 days

#2 posted 12-16-2008 05:24 AM

Great series of projects. Thanks for the tours or your daily life.

-- 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 dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4854 days

#3 posted 12-16-2008 05:50 AM

This 30/30 project has captured my imagination. It would be a great learning curve to tackle thirty things I don’t normally build. Last month I did three small shelves in three days and thought of you. One day I hope to really give it a shot.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4787 days

#4 posted 12-17-2008 02:43 PM

Very productive and it had to have made you a faster worker and quicker thinker along with being able to come up with new ideas faster.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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