Finding Cheap Beginning Blanks

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ChrisD123

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Jun 11, 2012
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167
Location
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Hey!, Brand new to the forums I have been snooping around and decided to make an account. Anyways, i had a question. I was wondering where you guys would recommend finding cheap blanks just to start out, I live in Canada and so I have been getting them from Lee Valley Tools however the price adds up very fast when your learning. So where do you recommend i find blank preferably from Canada!
 
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Gary Beasley

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Sep 18, 2009
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Marietta, Ga. USA
Go to the lumberyard and buy a hardwood board, maybe 3/4 inch thick. Slice it into blank sized pieces on your tablesaw or bandsaw. Try some cut at a diagonal to the grain as well as with the grain for some challenge. I cut my own blanks from deadfall wood as well and find a few treasure in the process.
 

Rick P

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Apr 30, 2011
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Location
Palmer Alaska
Lumber yard, demolition sites, construction sites, busted up furniture from the dump and or second hand stores, your yard, the neighbor who just trimmed his fruit trees, side of the road, that ugly stump your aunt has been complaining about the dead stick that was too cool to throw in the camp fire, plus several others......and thats just for wood!

Old bowling balls, plastic boxes can be cut up and segmented, vinyl records from yard sales, plastic tool handles, old Corina counter tops ask one of the local kitchen remodeling companies they usually have piles of scrap laying around......and thats without casting anything. Buy yourself a jug of PR and you can literally make blanks from moose poo!

Or you could just ask here! I think most of us have sent a new turner a box of wood at one time or another.....including myself.
 
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underdog

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Sep 11, 2006
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607
Location
Watkinsville, Georgia
Man. If I bought wood for everything I ever turned, I'd be a very poor man.

I don't ever buy wood unless it's something I can't harvest right here on the N. American continent.

For pen sized blanks, there's more stuff just sitting around for free than you could shake stick at (no play on words intended).

I get a lot of mine from the cabinet shop where I work. I'll just be passing by the dumpster or trash can and spy that offcut knot, and I just have to have that pretty piece of wood...
 

anthonyd

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Oct 9, 2011
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257
Location
Ancaster ON Canada
Hi Chris,

Try William Wood-Write at William Wood-Write Ltd.
Bill and Lillian run a company out of Guelph Ontario that has everything you need. They have wood blank bundles that are very reasonable. They also have acrylic etc. Also try the IAP vendors. Many of them have reasonable USPS shipping to Canada and are also great to deal with.

Tony
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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6,605
Location
Tunica, MS,
Knots, twisted, sapwood, wood with occlusions are usually cast off and seen as worthless to wood shops, cabinet shops and lumber stores - and these make the best pens. Most of the time, they will be free too.

There have been quite a few great looking pens posted here that came from fireplace wood just before they were about to be burned!
 

Rick P

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Apr 30, 2011
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Location
Palmer Alaska
Knots, twisted, sapwood, wood with occlusions are usually cast off and seen as worthless to wood shops, cabinet shops and lumber stores - and these make the best pens. Most of the time, they will be free too.

There have been quite a few great looking pens posted here that came from fireplace wood just before they were about to be burned!

I know turners who would kill to rummage through my firewood pile!
 

NewLondon88

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May 15, 2008
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Claremont NH
I think most kitchen chairs have more rungs than strictly necessary..
especially in other people's kitchens

Hey.. I'm just sayin..
 

monophoto

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Mar 13, 2010
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Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
I've found a couple of nearby shops that make/sell treenware - bowls, cutting boards, etc - who sell their scrap as 'kindling'. Have picked up quite a bit of maple, birch, ash and walnut that way. I've also bought some 'factory second' oak cutting boards that I've cut into blanks.

Also, look around for trees that are being taken down. Earlier this year, we had a white oak removed from our property. I grabbed a chunk of it before the tree guy removed everything and have made a number of nice bottle stoppers from it. Also got some wood from a poplar (cottonwood) weed that wife and I took down about a year ago. I left a length of it in the garage to dry, and when I turned it this spring, it was nicely spalted.
 

Rifleman1776

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Dec 18, 2004
Messages
7,344
Location
Mountain Home, Arkansas, USA.
The only wood blanks I have ever purchased were from an elderly friend who was giving up turning due to health problems.
I cut my own and even try to sell a few.
Lot of good suggestions so far. Develop the fine are of scrounging wood. Once the word gets out you want wood you will need new storage facilities.
 

ChrisD123

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Jun 11, 2012
Messages
167
Location
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Thanks for all the help guys! my only problem with cutting my own wood is im no longer in school so i don't have access to our shop for the whole summer and so i cant really cut my own stuff :(
 

Linarestribe

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Mar 9, 2011
Messages
399
Location
Mount Vernon, WA
Check Craigslist for bandsaws. You can find a small one for real cheap. I started with a small Ryobi that was a yr old and barely used for $60. I now have a Grizzly after selling the Ryobi for $15 more than I bought it and saving some pennies.
Good luck
 

Gary Beasley

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Sep 18, 2009
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Location
Marietta, Ga. USA
Thanks for all the help guys! my only problem with cutting my own wood is im no longer in school so i don't have access to our shop for the whole summer and so i cant really cut my own stuff :(
A decent hand saw can get you going on some of the smaller stuff, and a miter box will do to square the pieces up for drilling. Where theres a will theres a way, old but true.
 

Frank Nemke sr

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Aug 9, 2009
Messages
531
Location
Paso Robles ca.
If your near a fair size town you my have a lumber yard that sells hardwoods Most people <or should I say normal people > don"t
like to buy boards with knots or differant color wood in it so they will cut it off because its sold by the board foot. They will gladly sell those cutoffs. Cabnet makers/installers my have Corian scrap that you can pickup real cheap or free. A 4"x4" discontued corian sample of no use to the seller each will make two slimline pens or one larger pen by cutting them one inch wide and glueing them top to top with CA glue scuff them up first.
 

Rick P

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Apr 30, 2011
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Location
Palmer Alaska
Tracy and I rather enjoy gathering funky drift wood from along the river for turning. My habit of picking up sticks is nothing compared to her passion for "momma rocks". Granted they are pretty but they normally weigh a bit more than a 1958 Buick!
 
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juteck

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Dec 10, 2008
Messages
861
Location
Charlotte, NC
Hey!, Brand new to the forums I have been snooping around and decided to make an account. Anyways, i had a question. I was wondering where you guys would recommend finding cheap blanks just to start out, I live in Canada and so I have been getting them from Lee Valley Tools however the price adds up very fast when your learning. So where do you recommend i find blank preferably from Canada!
Black Forest Woods - local to you -- try to get in on the bulk bin deal for offcuts, etc.

As others have mentioned - buy lumber and cut it yourself, instead of buying pre-cut pen blanks. A 4/4 board will go a long ways.

Even at the DIY big box stores, a poplar board is cheap, and will go a long ways for practicing. Dig through the pile, and you may even find some with some nice figure.
 

bradh

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Joined
Mar 9, 2005
Messages
681
Location
Aurora, Ontario, Canada.
Try the dowel rack at a small hardware store. The big box guys are bringing in Lauan and other Asian wood dowels now, but the small guys often still have good local woods. I can still pick up Maple dowel at Home Hardware and Canadian Tire often carries Red Oak dowel.
These make simple, plain looking pens, but the wood is cheap and they sell surprisingly well.
 

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