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Old 04-23-2018, 04:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Bay area
Posts: 126
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Default How I square my blanks

Blank squaring seems to be an issue for some, and certainly was for me when I got started turning pens. Since I've been using this system, I haven't had any problems.

This is not my idea, but stolen from somewhere on the inter-webs. I take no credit for this method!

All you need is a chuck for the headstock, a drill chuck for the tailstock, and a set of transfer punches. Stuff I reckon almost all of us have.

Cut blank to length, drill, glue tube, and then

I have a few different sanding discs of varying size and grit, but usually for pens I use a 2" dowel of hard maple that I have a tenon turned on one side, with a piece of 100 grit stuck on with a few dots of CA. When your sandpaper needs replacing, tear it off and put up a new piece. Every 10 pieces or so, I'll face the disk with a bowl gouge and sandpaper, checking for flatness with a straightedge.

I'm still fairly new to this, and maybe everyone knows this, but maybe it can help someone having difficulty.
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
campzeke's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 545
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Been doing it that way for over two years and will never go back the the barrel trimmer. I use Rick Herrell's Offset Sanding Jig and love it.
Rick - Tampa, FL
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Houston, Texas
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I haven't tried this specific method, but having tried other similar methods with sandpaper I think that an offset jig is essential. The method that I settled on for squaring is to turn round between centers, then mount in a collet chuck and square off with the point of a skew. Most important part is finding a method that works for you. Well done, and that's one nice looking blank you're working on there!
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Surprise, Arizona
Posts: 1,184
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I agree that’s the best way, but I also use Rick’s jig since it has the advantage of letting you square the blank on 3 different areas of the disc.
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Old 04-24-2018, 12:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: NJ, USA.
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Look at me. I feel like answering a few threads today. Seems like another sanding thread. As mentioned if it works for you then good. I can suggest a few things that make your jig more efficient. Do not have to do any of these. But if you get some sticky back sandpaper and cut pieces small enough so that you can move them around on the disc without hanging too far over you will save alot of sandpaper. When one area becomes used move it so another part of the paper can be used. You can have just one disc and I would seal that disc with some shellac so that the sandpaper sticks and peels off easily. I use a faceplate with a metal disc adhered to it. Never use hook and loop sandpaper. You will never get a square end because the paper gives too much. You want a solid surface to push against.

Another suggestion is to round that blank before sanding the ends. I say this because in case you chip an end it possibly can be saved. You have more chance when blank is square than round. Some words of wisdom. Happy turning.
John T.
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