Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Dip

Many moons ago, I ordered some Liquid Diamonds casting resin because a fellow pen turner was hawking it online and I'd toyed with the idea for a long time. I did some casting in the past with colored resin, but wanted to try making clear pen blanks with printed images inside.

No brainer, right? I mean, heck, Grandma wants a pen with the grand kids trapped inside. Sadie wants a pen with her scumbag husband on it to sign her divorce papers, right? I could make that!

Then the liquid diamonds sat on a table in the corner for several months. What can I say? I put the "pro" in procrastination. What made me bust it out and try it now? Maybe I was bored. Maybe I thought I'd better use it up before it goes bad. Maybe I saw my competition make really cool blanks and that smoldering seed of envy buried deep within flared up with an agonizing goading daring me to try my hand. That was very specific, but who knows?

And since everyone raved about how easy Liquid Diamonds was to use, I went with memory and intuition to make a set of blanks. I mean, who needs to read instructions, right? Am I right?

No. Air bubbles. Lots of them. Apparently I'm not right. Hmm. Where were those instructions?

The second attempt was better. I didn't say it was much better. And it certainly wasn't usable. A third attempt burned down, fell over and then fell into the swamp. But the fourth one? The fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad. The finest castle in these isles.

Stop that. Stop it. You're not going into a song while I'm here.

Sorry. Sometimes the Python references come unbidden and one must yield.

As I was saying, the fourth attempt actually produced some usable pen blanks.

I think I've got it now. The secret involves a heating pad, the clothes dryer and a third object for which I'm sworn to secrecy. So, now you can get that great vacation picture immortalized in a useful, handcrafted writing instrument. Want someone to think of you every time they write? Get your grinning mug cast in acrylic. Don't send unsolicited pictures of genitalia to your crush. Show her you've got class. Have that picture made into a pen and give her that!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Khalisi's got nothing on me

I have a bit of an obsessive-compulsive personality. I wanted to try making one of these and ended up producing about two dozen. Hmmm...

Monday, January 14, 2019

Stylus, styluses or styli?

What is the plural of "stylus?"
I'm so confused.

Anyway, here are some images from the custom-make for P.

P selected two premium (and expensive!) blanks. Here they are marked and ready for cutting. The "X" will help me re-align the blanks on assembly. The portions to the right will go to scrap.

Here they have been cut, drilled, painted inside and had their brass tubes glued into place. I'm using epoxy for the first time on the recommendation of many pen turners, so they have to set overnight.

With the epoxy fully set, the blanks are trimmed and rounded. Note that my "X" is now gone, but I marked inside the brass tubes on meeting ends.

Roughing down to cylinders.

Now the gouge for finer shaping. These premium blanks cut like butter. Beautiful.

And then the skew for a smooth, fine shape.

100 grit. Ugh, sanding.

220 grit. Tedious.

320, 400, 600 & 800 grits. I'll spare you. It's monotonous.

Finally starting to look pretty. MicroMesh wet sanding. There are 10 steps.

Followed by a friction polish and then a wax. This one's almost ready.

Roughing on blue.

Shaping blue with a gouge.

Fine tuning with the skew.

And sanding ... lots and lots of sanding.

After the 800 grit pad, Blue will get wet-sanded with MicroMesh then polished.

Parts layout and check on Red before assembly.

Parts layout and check on Blue.

And here is the finished pair!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Three razors, well, two, but the order is for three. It's really not complicated.

I met some great people at the #Manassas Fall Jubilee this year, and I love working events in that town! One lady in particular, let's call her J, recently reached out to get some handcrafted gifts for the men in her life. She chose one safety razor she'd seen at the Jubilee and (after some brief correspondence) elected to have two more commissioned. The materials recently arrived and I've begun work.

Blue and green blanks cut to size

The green blank came pre-drilled, but the blue didn't

Drilled, tube-glued and trimmed, Blue now goes on the lathe. Note the piece on the right. It's there to fill space on the spindle (and also become a beautiful stylus). More on it later ...

Blue begins getting it's rough shaping

The skew is the final tool used before sanding ... lots and lots of sanding. Every piece goes through 100, 120, 220, 340, 400, 600 and 800 grit sanding, stopping between each to sand length-wise.

After sanding, I wet-sand with micro-mesh, a 10-step process (thankfully much faster than sanding) going up to 12,000 grit.

After all that sanding, each piece gets two coats of plastic polish. By the way, see the filler piece mentioned earlier? It couldn't take the stress of shaping and exploded on the lathe. It doesn't happen often, but is a huge disappointment when it does. Oh well, not everything can be a masterpiece, I suppose.

Blue gets a coat of wax in its final step on the lathe.

Green begins its turning.

The skew removes very fine layers to smooth the acrylic out for sanding.

So. Much. Sanding.

Here's Green right after its wet sanding, but before polish and wax. Looks pretty good, right?

Green getting its plastic polish (wish the focus was better). This is a "friction polish." It's activated by the friction-induced heat of spinning against the cloth. Have to be careful with lathe speed and pressure during this step. You can burn the material (or your finger) if either are too strong, but it'll do nothing if either are too weak. Gotta find that 'Goldilocks' zone. After this it gets a coat of wax and is ready for mounting.

Parts layout and check

Here's Blue getting its head and tail mounted using a pen press. Below are the finished razors. I hope you've enjoyed the journey!