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Old 01-05-2019, 04:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Hot time in the shop!

I'm making two pens with purple heart and some type of ebony. I'm using the pen mill in my drill press; been doing this for quite a while with no problems. Anyway, the wood starts smoking before I even get close to the blank being turned down to the tube. I checked the Janka scale and note that purple heart is halfway down the scale. Some type of ebony is at the bottom. With what I'm seeing, I figure ebony is about two steps above tool steel. I touched up the mill with a diamond file but that really didn't do much good. Your help is appreciated.
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Old 01-05-2019, 04:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Did you try sanding it
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Old 01-05-2019, 06:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Don't have an accurate way to sand. Tried it before and it was a disaster.
Just got an idea- may try to turn the blank down almost to the kit diameter (have calipers) and then try to square the end with the pen mill. Will let you know how that works. If it doesn't work, you will be able to hear me from a long way off.
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Old 01-05-2019, 08:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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You can also square the end with a parting tool on the lathe.


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Old 01-05-2019, 09:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Stick a chunk of sandpaper to a disc screwed to the faceplate you likely never use. Put a transfer punch or drill bit that fits inside the tube in the tail stock chuck. Now you have a sanding jig to square blanks.
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Pen Mills work until they don't. I have two carbide pen mills, both sent out to be sharpened and both did OK, but I haven't used them in 10 years. I cut my blanks close to the tube with TS and sled, then use SANDING Mill to get it to size. Takes a minute longer, but I do not regret taking the extra time all these years.

Pen Mills do what you described and more in causing problems. They do fine until suddenly . . .; I have not regretted using the sanding mill one time.
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Old 01-05-2019, 10:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I turn the blank round between centers then drill on the lathe. The hole is then parallel to the OD of the blank. I just use a fence 90 deg to my sanding belt and sand to the tube. I am using a metal lathe chuck to hold the blank while drilling.


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Old 01-06-2019, 07:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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I have a tool makers vise that I use to hold a transfer punch (flat end toward the sander) that is just large enough to freely spin in the tube that is glued into the blank and protrudes just enough to so the blank will touch the sanding belt without the punch contacting the belt. The Tool makers vise is held against the t-square of my belt sander with the transfer punch 90 to the sanding belt. I place the tubed blank on the punch, start up the sander, advance the vise/tube/blank toward the belt but no touching it. I then spin the blank carefully with my fingers and advance the tubed blank on the punch (not the vise) until the blank starts to sand down. I continue advancing the tubed blank until the tube starts to sand. I will check every once in a while to see how close the tube is getting to the belt but after you've done a few you can hear the difference from when the wood sands and then the tube starts. I then carefully remove the tubed blank from the punch and reverse it on the punch and start again.
On softer woods I will use the pen blank mill but since I dont have all the different tube sized guides I inevitably use the sander.
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I did not add this in on my previous post, but the real problem that is totally overlooked in posts on pen mills: End grain does not do as well with pen mills.

The necessity of sharpening to the sharpness of a hand planes is the problem.

You mentioned: "Been doing this for quite a while with no problems" . . . now burning. PROBLEM - DULL cutter.

Do a google search on cutting end grain with a hand plane. You will find that it is not necessarily the angle but in every case, the ability to cut end grain is dependent first and foremost the sharpness of the blade. Swiping a diamond card over the blade does not necessarily re-sharpen the blade to the extent it was before. I have known plenty people who used grinders to sharpen blades and wondered why something wasn't cutting correctly. Experienced technique takes practice and experience. I learned this from my own experience. Just because I used a few swipes on my carbide blades didn't improve their cutting abilities. However it did work for others. Technique in sharpening.
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Old 01-06-2019, 12:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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I hit the edges with a diamond file and that seems to help. As I mentioned, the wood is very hard on the Janka scale. The ebony is round so I'm going to drill it on the lathe in my pen jaws. I made a disk sander with scrap plywood and will try that. Made it after the disaster I mentioned earlier.
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