Raw Materials

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A number of Raw Materials can be used to create a one-of-a-kind, artistic pen.

Contents

Rating System

In line with a topic in the IAP forums, we are trying to create a rating system for blank materials.


Wood

Most penturners have made at least a few pens out of wood. Woods are sourced from all over the world. For the purposes of this Wiki, we refer to Domestic woods as those sourced in North America and considered to be common (easily located). Exotic woods are those considered to be imported from other countries, with a few native species that are also somewhat rare. A third category of wood blanks are those that are manufactured from wood or wood by-products.

The penturner can source wooden pen blanks from many sources, from expensive exotic woods, to his/her own woodpile.

Within each type of wood, there can be natural variations to the grain such as birdseye, burl (or burr), tiger (or tyger), flame, waterfall and spalt.

Some wood pen blanks are treated to stabilize and/or color them.

A common technique is to combine two or more woods into a segmented blank.

Domestic Woods

Apple

Apricot

Ash

Birch

Boxelder

Black Gum (Black Tupelo)

Buckeye

Butternut

Cedar

Cherry

Citrus (Orange, grapefruit, lemon, etc)

Cottonwood

Cypress

Desert Ironwood

Hackberry

Hawthorne

Hickory

Holly

Lilac

Maple
Madrone

Mesquite

Mulberry

Myrtle

Oak

Osage Orange

Pear

Pecan

Poplar

Sassafras
Sumac

Sycamore

Walnut

Exotic Woods

Afzelia

Amboyna

Bamboo

Bloodwood

Bocote

Bubinga

Canarywood

Chechen

Coconut Palm

Corrugata

Ebony

Eucalyptus

Goncolo Alves

Gum (Australian)

Honduran Rosewood

Imbuia

Indian Rosewood

Kingwood

Koa

Lacewood

Leopardwood

Malle

Olive

Panga Panga

Purpleheart

Red Morrel

Redheart

Rosa Pua

Rosewood

SnakeWood

Tamarind

Tulipwood

Wenge

Yellowheart

Zangara

Zebrawood

Ziricote

Stabilized Wood

Manufactured Wood

ColorWood

Dakota Burl

DymondWood

Environ

Plywood

Other Natural Materials

Antler

  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Moose

Horn

  • Cow
  • Buffalo

Bone

  • Alligator
  • Deer
  • Cow

Snake Skin

Leather

Corn Cob

Pine Cone

Sugar Pine and Knobby Pine are ideal.

Dakota Burl

(crushed sunflower seed hulls bonded together)

Coffee beans

cast into Polyurethane Resin(PR)

Flowers

Flowers (violets) cast into PR

Cactus

The 'skeletons' of prickly pear cactus cast into Alumilite

Loofah gourd

Man-Made Materials

Plastic Pen Blanks

Some definition of terms is appropriate for this topic. The word 'plastic' as used here generally applies to (but is not limited to) acrylics, resins, polyurethane and polyethylene materials. All of these are used as raw materials for pen making. Most suppliers for pen turning offer at least one line of plastic blanks. Some of the more popular are listed here.

  • Acrylester
  • Acrylic Acetate
  • Acrylic Rods
  • Bowling ball blanks
  • Celluliod
  • Corian
  • Italian resins
  • Polyurethane Resin
  • Polyester resin
  • Polyethylene resin
  • Self-cast blanks


Different suppliers may use a different name for what is in fact a very similar (if not identical) material. Occasionally, two suppliers may use the same name for two different materials.


The sides of plastic blanks often have two distinct appearances depending on how they come from the mold. The 'A' side is the top or bottom of the mold and has a shiny appearance. The 'B' side shows saw parkings from when the blanks were cut after they were removed from the mold. Either side can be deceiving when trying to determine the appearance of the finished pen.


Turning Plastic Blanks

Plastic blanks (as defined above) can differ substantially from one type of plastic to another. It would be a mistake to make generalizations that apply to all plastic blanks. Check the link for the specific type of plastic that you plan to turn. If there no turning instructions for that specific type of material, the following may prove helpful:

  1. Use water to cool and lubricate the drill bit when drilling the blank
  2. Turn the blanks at a high speed
  3. Sharp tools are critical when turning plastic
  4. Take light cuts with those sharp tools
  5. Slow the lathe down for finishing
  6. Wet sand at slow speed.  Sand lengthwise with the lathe off and turning the lathe by hand.
  7. Use a plastic polish or rubbing compound to get the final finish on the blank, or buff the completed blank on a cloth wheel.



Metals

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