Buy blanks or cut your own ?

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mrmartyking

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Sep 17, 2012
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Seattle, WA
I am looking for some African blackwood and desert ironwood blanks. Is it better/cheaper to buy the larger pieces and cut them your self or just buy the pre-cut blanks? And what is a good source for these two woods?

Thanks
 
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zdann64

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Dec 28, 2012
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temple tx
i like to cut block wood then re-saw my pens blanks. i would check wood craft they may have 2inx2inch by 18 in long blocks or something like that.
 

keithkarl2007

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Desert Ironwood is very hard. It's one wood I'd buy pre-cut so I wouldn't break any blades. African Blackwood doesn't come in very big sections. Some Blackwood pen blanks on Ebay seem reasonable enough. The last ones I seen were sold in packs of 5.
 

bradh

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Depends. In my area, it is cheaper to buy African Blackwood pen blanks than to cut from larger stock. Purpleheart and Redheart are the opposite here.
Check local prices and see what makes sense.
 

Lenny

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Searsport, Maine
You can purchase blanks in all kinds of species from catalog sources and some might be very nice.... Most will be somewhat plain. By far the best method,IMO, is purchasing from sources (like the vendors here) that show actual photos of the blanks you will receive.
 

wiset1

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Rough cut wood is always going to be cheaper to buy if you look at the cost of a blank opposed to plank when looking at board feet. All depends on when you need it and how much of it. I've found really good deals on that auction site and just cut my own blanks or strips for segmenting.

Good luck in whatever you choose
 

sbwertz

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I am fortunate enough to live just a couple of blocks from Woodworker's Source here in Phoenix. They carry just about every exotic wood you can think of, and are willing to cut small pieces off a plank of, say, jatoba, or zebrawood, etc. I bought 6" of 8/4 zebrawood the other day to make some wide napkin rings. I buy purpleheart, padouk, etc all the time and cut it into pen blanks. They also have bowl blanks and turning squares, but it is cheapest to just find a board that has some fancy grain near one end and have them cut it off for me. I got some spectacular hickory that way once.

Sharon
 

ed4copies

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Boards will, nearly always, be cheaper.

So, if you can find a board with excellent grain that will convert to pen blanks with no waste--you got a winner!!

However, straight grained pens are "run of the mill". You want to make "showpiece pens", you need to get burls or wild grain of some sort. With those you will have a LARGE amount of waste. If you buy pen blanks--you have a much better idea of what the pen will look like----sometimes you will still be fooled, but not as often as buying a "chunk" and guessing what the middle will yield. Also, unfortunately, I have never been able to buy a burl that was exactly 4.5-5", so I could get blanks without waste.

IF you are just making "gift pens for the family", straight grain may be fine for you and a board can be a cost-effective purchase.
 

sbwertz

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Boards will, nearly always, be cheaper.

So, if you can find a board with excellent grain that will convert to pen blanks with no waste--you got a winner!!

However, straight grained pens are "run of the mill". You want to make "showpiece pens", you need to get burls or wild grain of some sort. With those you will have a LARGE amount of waste. If you buy pen blanks--you have a much better idea of what the pen will look like----sometimes you will still be fooled, but not as often as buying a "chunk" and guessing what the middle will yield. Also, unfortunately, I have never been able to buy a burl that was exactly 4.5-5", so I could get blanks without waste.

IF you are just making "gift pens for the family", straight grain may be fine for you and a board can be a cost-effective purchase.
Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want :eek:. I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!:biggrin:
 

r1237h

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Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want :eek:. I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!:biggrin:
Head up north towards British Columbia....:laugh:
 
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I buy some species in precut blanks. But I am always on the lookout for special deals on slabs of wood or burls I can cut into knife scales, pepper mill blanks, bowl blanks, or pen blanks. I always keep my scraps & cut off's for small segmented pieces.

Bill
 

NotURMailman

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Orange Park, Florida
Boards will, nearly always, be cheaper.

So, if you can find a board with excellent grain that will convert to pen blanks with no waste--you got a winner!!

However, straight grained pens are "run of the mill". You want to make "showpiece pens", you need to get burls or wild grain of some sort. With those you will have a LARGE amount of waste. If you buy pen blanks--you have a much better idea of what the pen will look like----sometimes you will still be fooled, but not as often as buying a "chunk" and guessing what the middle will yield. Also, unfortunately, I have never been able to buy a burl that was exactly 4.5-5", so I could get blanks without waste.

IF you are just making "gift pens for the family", straight grain may be fine for you and a board can be a cost-effective purchase.
Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want :eek:. I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!:biggrin:
Make sure you zip through Florida!
 

WildThings

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Dayton, TX 77535
Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want :eek:. I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!:biggrin:

Trade them or Sell them on woodbarter.com!!
 
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low_48

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Peoria, IL, USA.
One thing to consider with buying exotic wood bowl blanks, is that they are never dry. They are almost always dipped in wax to keep them from checking. It will take time before you can use them as pen blanks. Much better chance of buying dry pen blanks, or dry lumber.
 

sbwertz

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Did I mention that most of them are about three feet across and weigh upward of 200 lbs?

Sharon

Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want :eek:. I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!:biggrin:

Trade them or Sell them on woodbarter.com!!
 

anneb3

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Sep 2, 2012
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Arizona
I turned pens for Christmas presents using the mesquite from my firewood pile. They all seem to like the personal touch. I guess I will pick up pieces of other woods on vacation and tells the person recieving the pen just where it came from. I think that gives a very personal touch. Someone gave me some ironwood from their yard so my next project is to make him a personal pen. Up in northen AZ. the common wood is pine , too soft for pens, so intend to flood it with CA and see how it goes.
 

Hendu3270

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I buy both. I buy some specific pen blanks on Ebay that I like the looks of and also slabs/chunks on Ebay if I can get them for not too much and just saw them up. Some of the burl slabs I've purchased were coated in wax but that's not a huge issue for me, as I like to fill voids and such with various colored inlays. I'll saw up a handful of blanks and set aside for a while. They dry faster in that state (cut into pen blanks), and if they check, crack, etc...that's just going to create some extra inlay work, which will give the end product a little more "pizazz".
 

plano_harry

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+1 on Ed's comment. Very unlikely to find exhibition grade blanks by the board foot. You have to buy those from whoever was lucky enough to find the source, and you want to see what you are getting.

Just did 100 purpleheart slims that I ripped from a board.

If I am going to put $15-$30 worth of hardware on it -- it better be some really nice wood!
 

BURLMAN

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Chattanooga, TN
Boards will, nearly always, be cheaper.



Unless you happen to have 50 mulberry crowns in your back yard! Then you can get all the burly wild grain you want :eek:. I don't know what I am going to do with all this stuff. I have cut up two of these crowns and I have several hundred blanks. Now what do I do with the other 48 crowns? I can't BEAR the idea of him taking them to the dump. I think I'll load them in the back of my truck and head across country like Johnny Appleseed, strewing them along the way at every penturner I can find!:biggrin:


Well be sure to stop by Chattanooga!! I'd love to take some off of your hands.
 
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azamiryou

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Aug 14, 2010
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Silver Spring, MD USA
If you only need two blanks, it's cheaper to buy two $5 blanks than it is to buy a $20 board and cut it into 15 blanks. If you want a lot of blanks from the same wood, then the board is cheaper.

Of course actual pricing and availability become big factors, too. Some woods are easier to find in small pieces.
 

Leviblue

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Mar 27, 2011
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Holly Springs, NC
Here's how I see it, you're a wood worker with all these tools to cut wood. Get the rough cut and make your own. Cabinet companies don't want burls they want straight grain. No one want partials so make your own. You can get the look you want at a fraction of the price. Now it its an exotic, yes you may have to pay for them. But what you don't want, you can sell.Or send to me:biggrin:
 
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