Blanks from IAP member mckenziedrums

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Carl Fisher

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I had an opportunity to turn a pen recently using blanks from mckenziedrums. Tim does something a little unique with his blanks where he uses real diamond dust for the shimmer in the blanks rather than a typical pearl powders.

The blanks come mostly square and in typical 5" pen blank size. The largest diameter I was able to achieve once completely rounded was 18mm so it should be more than enough room for any pen you want to use it on.

Since it's Alumilite it lends itself to either kit or custom pens and is easy to turn and polish. The color saturation and penetration is good with no dead areas that I found. Definitely no air bubbles either so they're good solid blanks.

As for the diamond dust, it's a nice touch but I wouldn't say that the shine factor is quite as high as some of the powders available but as Tim said, it's more about being able to tell your customer that it's real diamond dust and I believe he said he was working on certificates to include that explain this.

My only real criticism, and mind you I have a limited sampling of 2 blanks, is that the saturation of the dust doesn't get all the way to the bottom of the mold, or it floats up. Either way it leaves one side of the blank not quite as shiny as the other. However the thinner the pen body the less that will be noticeable. The pen in this picture is around 15.5mm in diameter on the cap and 14.5mm on the body.

Overall I think they are very nice blanks and provide a bit of variety and new blood to what is available to the pen market.

Nice job Tim.
 

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McKenzie Penworks

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Thanks Carl! Only one minor correction, I do actually use Mica based pigments as the primary colorant. The diamond is used similar to adding a traditional pearl. All the colors are mica based.
 

mredburn

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How does the diamond dust affect your tooling when cutting, did you notice any faster dulling of your tools that could be attributed to the Diamond dust over normal wear?
 

Carl Fisher

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So you're the second person to ask me about that. I don't know that I've had a large enough sampling to determine that. When I raised the question with Tim he said that there have been no reports yet of premature wear on tooling and it cut just as soft as normal Alumilite with carbide bits on both the metal and wood lathe. I didn't notice any difficulty on drilling either so I really can't say one way or another right now. Not enough data.
 

McKenzie Penworks

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How does the diamond dust affect your tooling when cutting, did you notice any faster dulling of your tools that could be attributed to the Diamond dust over normal wear?
Admittedly, I'm a bit biased here... :tongue: However, I've turned a bunch of these and originally had no intent whatsoever of selling them. The goal was to have something to set my pens apart from others. In the 50 or so pens I've made from these I've not noticed any additional wear. I attribute this to using very fine powder that is suspended in a soft resin, it's not like you're running your tool against a diamond file. I do more sharpening turning stabilized woods than with my alumilite blanks.

I don't know that the powder is "floating" since I thoroughly mix things and the color simply wouldn't be there if it wasn't mixed since it's all powder based... it's more likely that there is one side where the pearl doesn't pick up the light. I've experienced this with other pearlescent blanks in the past. In the turned pen you can rotate it and most of the blank will sparkle and then there will be an angle where it does not. In this particular color combo it is a bit more pronounced since they are relatively dark colors. While I'm not sure it can be entirely avoided, I'm certainly open to ideas on how to minimize it!

I know I've said it already but... Beautiful pen. Thank you again for the honest feedback and for turning this. It's one thing to use a bunch of my blanks for kit pens, something else entirely to see one turned into art!
 

Noot17

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Just to add on here - I have several of these blanks as well and they look stunning in sunlight! I've made a few pens and a razor handle so far. It was easy to turn and I didn't notice it dulling my carbide tool any faster than other stuff.
Definitely recommend these blanks if you're looking for something different!


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Gregory Hardy

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All talk of the blank aside (I really like the blank) for a moment. I wanted to tell you that I really like thee roll stop you have implemented. I followed your last one and know that it was an earring. Just wanted to say "good on you" for thinking outside the box. Classy pen. Classier idea. Made me think beyond my own thinking - two points for you! (And I really do love the blank!)
 

MRDucks2

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I have noticed the one sided thing on most pearlescent blanks, also. Since we will likely start casting this quarter, any secrets to avoiding will be appreciated.


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TerraDax has started a new thread on this in Casting under the header Your Experience so reply there if you have knowledge/experience pertaining to the layering effect.


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More4dan

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I just received 4 of the Diamond Dust blanks from Tim today. They look amazing and so much better than the picture on the site which was stunning. I can’t wait to build some pens with them.

Danny


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Carl Fisher

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All talk of the blank aside (I really like the blank) for a moment. I wanted to tell you that I really like thee roll stop you have implemented. I followed your last one and know that it was an earring. Just wanted to say "good on you" for thinking outside the box. Classy pen. Classier idea. Made me think beyond my own thinking - two points for you! (And I really do love the blank!)
Much appreciated. I use all sorts of goodies for roll stops. Earrings, rings, crystals, etc... Currently playing around with embedding an old nib in the cap but not completely sold on the look yet.
 

McKenzie Penworks

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I think the blanks have come a long way since this test, in no small part due to feedback like this. The round blanks have beautiful sparkle at all angles and I started offering the skinnier blanks in 9" size with no need to turn down. Very appreciative of all the feedback from everyone that's turned them.
 

magpens

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I want to add my positive support for Tim's blanks. . Have been turning them for several months and have been totally thrilled with the results. . I don't post many pictures, and I apologize to Tim for that ... I should have. Many thanks, Tim, for your outstanding blank craftsmanship. . Your contribution to pen making deserves to make the historical record !!
 

mmayo

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Thanks.

I think the blanks have come a long way since this test, in no small part due to feedback like this. The round blanks have beautiful sparkle at all angles and I started offering the skinnier blanks in 9" size with no need to turn down. Very appreciative of all the feedback from everyone that's turned them.
You gave me a 3/4” or larger round blank that looked beautiful but was soooo thick. I turned is very quickly to my surprise and love it. Smaller diameters like 5/8” would be a plus for me. When I drill them on the lathe both ends are very similar so I usually don’t need extra room for error.

Thanks.
 

McKenzie Penworks

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The 9" blanks measure .722" roughly... Definitely a bit slimmer than the .81" of my normal round ones. You need a little waste to turn away the outside where the resin ran down the mold.
 
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