Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Display Case

Ok, so I was a little excited this morning when I woke up and trotted on down to the dungeon to get the display case finished before running off to the real job. I can say that I really didn't care for showing of my pens in a goofy little box that my bank checks came in...

It came out pretty cool. The outer box is made with Red Oak. The dividers are all Eastern White Pine. I'm thinking that the next one will probably be made out of just Pine since it's a little easier to work with.

I also made 3 more pens tonight. Would have had more if it weren't for a couple of blow-outs...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Two Projects Near Completion

~ Project 1: The Nightstand

Tonight I finished sanding and applied the first coat of a water-based Polycrylic from Minwax to the nightstand. I suppose to a degree it's sheer laziness, but I really do prefer the cleanup of a water-based product over an oil-based product. Harsh chemicals just don't really appeal to me...

The first coat went fairly well. I quickly learned a few things about my construction techniques that will have to be modified before the next big project. All in all, I'm happy with how it's coming along though. I'll need to do a light sanding before applying a second coat of the Polycrylic, and I hope that will happen tomorrow.

~ Project 2: Pen Display Case

I haven't really mentioned this, but I have been playing with this project for a few days now. I made a simple box with some white oak using the Leigh Dovetail Jig to make the corner joints. I attached a piece of quarter inch plywood into a recess in the bottom of the box and made some inserts that have grooves in them big enough to hold a pen.

I've got the final coat of the same Polycrylic being used on the nightstand applied to the main portion of the pen case. I still need to apply a final coat to the little inserts and do the bottom of the main box. Again, I'm hoping to get that done tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

No Threat to Thomas Moser

In my world of woodworking, Thos Moser is basically a God. The work that this guy churns out is just phenominal! It's his stuff that makes me want to continue and improve as a woodworker.

To date, this man has no worries of losing any business to me! My nightstand, having been neglected again to making pens with the assistant, is back on the workbench in hopes of being completed sometime this year.

Everything has now been assembled. The drawer has had it's bits of adjustments and I'm going to call it complete. I do still need to add a back, though a quick trip to Home Depot will take care of that.

So in my near future, I see sanding. lots of sanding. But you know what keeps things going... it's the knowing that I'm going to complete a piece of furniture that will last longer than I do.

And I like that.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Assistant Update

As I headed down into the dungeon to kill some time before dinner was ready, my assistant soon followed. I was showing her some of what I was working on and she said that she wanted to make something. After a bit of glancing around trying to decide what tools might be appropriate for a 5 year old, I decided that it was perhaps time to introduce her to the lathe.

Well let me tell you that girl is a natural! After getting her setup with a face shield to protect her pretty little smile, I showed her the proper way to hold the turning tools and how to approach the wood to turn it. I started out by holding her hands as she began to turn the wood. After a couple of quick cuts I had her shut off the lathe so she could see and understand what she's doing to the wood. By the time dinner was ready, she only had time to round of a couple square pieces of Bird's Eye Maple. She proudly carried these upstairs to show her momma.

After dinner though we headed back down to complete the project. After seeing her get a little more comfortable with the tools I stood right next to her as she worked the wood herself. She shaped her piece of wood to the design she wanted sanded and finished the pieces before we assembled it. I wanted this to be something that she did, so I kept my help limited as much as possible. The only thing I did was to taper the ends of the pieces to the proper size. What did she make? Well at 5 years old she made her very own pen!

Let me tell you how freaking proud and excited that I am! I can't wait to bring these pictures into work tomorrow to show what me and my little assistant worked on! check out these pictures...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Practice Makes...Better!

I made another group of pens today. I decided to go more with the slim look on this group. I want to see about talking to a couple of local stores about selling my pens, so I don't want to go to radical on the shapes at this point. I figure that being made of exotic wood will already provide some "wow" factor, let's not blow the load all at once... so to speak.

I also wanted to see how these pen kits will look on the same type of wood. This should give me a better idea on how to match up my pen kits with the wood being used.

Making more pens also gives me more practice. Practice in turning in general, what's the best way to hold the tool, how much pressure to apply, that kind of stuff. It's also helped my speed a little bit. And it seems like speed is really going to be the deciding factor on profitability. The longer they take to make, the harder it will be to make any money...

The current tally is 3 pens and $30. Honestly, I was hoping for a bit more action on Friday at the real job, but that's really not the place I want to focus on for sales. I have to work with these people. I don't want them to fear talking to me, assuming that all I'm going to do is hock my wares!

So here's a look at todays batch:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

a Single Flake of Snow

Have you ever heard that saying, "A foot of snow starts with but a single flake"?

Well I'm hoping for a freaking blizzard. There seems to be a ton of interest in my pens down at the real job. As I mentioned in the comments of my last entry, I didn't even get my coat off this morning before I had sold that pen for $10.00! I had several people ask about more pens. In fact the guy that sits next to the person that bought todays pen, bought hers so that she can buy a Bird's Eye Maple pen!

I had several pen blanks ready to go when I got home from the real job tonight. At this point, I've got five new pens ready for new homes! Here's a look at today's stock:

The hard part about making these is that I've got so many options to work with! I've got almost 20 types of wood and 3 different hardware kits to choose from, that's what... 60 different combinations??

But Will They Talk the Talk?

As you all know, I've been bringing the pens I've made into the real job to show off a bit. It seems to have worked, seems like everyone wants one and even seem willing to pay for them!

So now we find out. I received my latest order from Woodturningz today, 30 pens kits. I ordered ten of each of the slimline Satin Pearl, Satin Gold (fancy) and Chrome (shiny/fancy). I pre-drilled enough pen blanks for 8 pens yesterday. Today I glued the brass inserts into the blanks and squared of the ends of the blanks to make them even with the brass inserts. I also have two of the Rosewood pen blank sets left from that first order of pre-drilled pen blanks that I bought originally.

Tonight I made what I hope to be my first pen to sell! So if you could all cross your fingers for me and wish me luck, I'll bring this little gem into the real job tomorrow and see what happens!

Here's a look at it. I'm especially happy with the way the grain shows in the lower half. I can honestly say that is worth every bit of the whole $10.00 I'm going to ask for it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Almost Ready for Prime Time

After nine months, countless hours, pounds of frustration and more money than I care to mention... my Red Oak nightstand with Bird's Eye Maple drawer is almost done. After much refinement tonight, I've got the drawer to the point that everything fits together as it should, including fitting into the opening in the nightstand!

So let's see, what's left...
~ The drawer stop needs to be attached.
~ I still need to make another trip to Home Depot to put on a back.
~ I need to fill in the screw holes that hold the shelves in.
~ The whole thing needs a good sanding, including breaking all the sharp corners.
~ It will also need a couple coats of finish once the sanding is all done.

But I can't wait to finish all of that to show you all how this little monster is looking, so here we go:

...and here's a close-up of the drawer showing the little "eyes" of the Bird's Eye Maple and the half-blind dovetail joint:

Friday, January 06, 2006

woah... not yet.

When I got into the real job this morning, I made a b-line to the admin's desk to get back the Purpleheart and Bird's Eye Maple pens. Luckily she hadn't send them out yet. After last night's trials with that woodturner's finish, I decided that I didn't want to send out those pens unfinished. And man am I glad I made that decision! I just applied that finish tonight and those pens look awesome! Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Left to right is Purpleheart, Rosewood and Bird's Eye Maple.

And a special note to dear Cindy-rella-lou-hoo:
I realize you are dying to get your hands on one of these babies, but look at this way, if you wait for me to get the technique down and work out the kinks, you can get a spectacular pen to show off to all your friends! And if you are really nice, you might even qualify for the family discount! That's 10% off retail price!!!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Trying something new

The last class I had in woodworking was back in my Jr year of high school. What's that about 18 years ago now?! I do read as many any articles and books that I find on woodworking, so I'm feeling fairly confident in my abilities. BUT that still doesn't stop some of the fear of trying something new. This is not the cheapest hobby by any stretch of the means and it truly concerns me if I feel I'm going to waste the cherished supplies that I've got. This is part of the reason that the night stand is still not finished. The fear of destroying that lovely piece of Bird's Eye Maple tears my gut apart and allows me the opportunity to goof around with something else. Lame I know, but it's shamefully true...

Tonight while making a new pen with one of the Rosewood blanks from that original order of pre-drilled pen blanks, I decided that I would try using some of the BEHLEN Woodturner's Finish that I had ordered with Assortment "A". I haven't used this woodturner's finish yet mainly due the the "DANGER POISON!" label on the front, and the simple fact that I haven't worked with any finishes on the pens I've made so far. Again, I don't want to ruin the few pen kits that I've got. I'm really not a fan of this hazardous stuff, mainly because of the great big pain in the @ss that it is to deal with... and yeah, the hazardous part!

After turning the pen blank to size and shape, I sanded and wiped the piece down with my tack cloth as I had done on all the rest of the pens. I then popped the seal off the woodturner's finish, soaked a cloth and began slowly applying the finish as I hand turned the lathe. Well Dang! Let me tell you, that finish popped the grain and color right out on that pen blank. I could hardly believe that this was the same wood used in my first couple of pens!

Ok, ten pictures later and I can't get a decent picture. You're just going to have to take my word for it for now.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New pens!

I dove into making some pens from Assortment "A" today. I drilled the centers out of a couple blanks today during lunch break from the real job so that they'd be ready to go tonight when I got home from work. I was not disappointed!

I'm making these pens as birthday gifts to a couple of my top customers at the real job. My wife made my Christmas cards again this year and they were a huge hit. So I thought I'd work off of that excitement and dazzle them with custom made pens for their birthdays. Along with custom birthday cards made by my wife of course!

One of these customers was a no brainer on what type of wood to use. He is also a woodworker and is quite fond of using Purple Heart in his projects, so that's what he's getting. The other customer is a little harder to figure, so I went on the hunch that anyone would enjoy a pen made of Bird's Eye Maple.

Here's a look at the end result. The Purple Heart is the darker color.

The two blocks the pens are leaning on is what the pen blanks look like before cutting, drilling and turning. These two pieces are Cocobolo (top) and Padauk.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

not as quiet as it would appear

As you can see, it's been over a week since my last entry. This may cause some to think, "why that lazy bastard hasn't done a darn thing!", but you'd be wrong! While it's true I didn't produce mass amounts of anything on Christmas Eve, the dungeon has been a bustling!

I received a gift certificate and some cash for Christmas that was quickly converted into a drill press! I've also received a new order from my good friends at Woodcraft. This order consisted of some drill bits, finish and an assortment of pen blanks. I got assortment "A". Some friends got me a gift certificate to woodcraft that will allow me to get assortment "B". I can't wait to start making some pens with this wood, the colors are amazing!