Good to work with?

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Madman1978

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Joined
Sep 14, 2020
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105
Location
Springfield
I have been storing away some wood. I have Walnut, Cedar, Maple, Red Oak, and White oak. Are any of these species any good to turn for pens?
 
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PreacherJon

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Aug 28, 2019
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119
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Ohio
Always tends upon the user. I personally don't like to turn Cedar... will often turn a duller color. Oak woods seem to have little pits... don't know how to explain... so I personally avoid those. I love Walnut and Maple to turn! Walnut is my favorite to work with in all genre.

(Hey... I see you're in Springfield. I'm in Enon.)
 

Madman1978

Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
105
Location
Springfield
Always tends upon the user. I personally don't like to turn Cedar... will often turn a duller color. Oak woods seem to have little pits... don't know how to explain... so I personally avoid those. I love Walnut and Maple to turn! Walnut is my favorite to work with in all genre.

(Hey... I see you're in Springfield. I'm in Enon.)
Springfield Yes but in Mass
 

magpens

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Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
13,344
Location
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Of the woods you mention, Maple and Walnut. . I don't like turning the others ... either because of the way they turn or the way they finish.
As PreacherJon said, Oak has little pits. . I believe there are some varieties of Cedar which turn OK but finishing is somewhat iffy.

I think I mentioned Bocote to you as my favorite wood for turning and finishing. . It seems to be harder to get than previously but it turns nicely and finishes nicely ... you can even get a very nice finish just by sanding and buffing ... not shiny gloss but I like a sort of matte finish.
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
7,622
Location
Tunica, MS,
Plain grain woods make good pens but in general, the most eye catching are the cratch wood, knotty wood, stressed wood and wild grain. In most wood shops such as cabinet or furniture, the ugly cut-offs make the great attractive pens.

For plain grain wood, using them in segments, or using cross cuts, biased grain (30° - 45°) cuts make interesting pens. But for some people They like regular straight grained pens.

Little pits - fill & seal with thick CA or clear shellac.
 

qquake

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Joined
Feb 8, 2004
Messages
2,826
Location
Northern California
I've turned several pens from oak. I like it.
 

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monophoto

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
1,736
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
I have been storing away some wood. I have Walnut, Cedar, Maple, Red Oak, and White oak. Are any of these species any good to turn for pens?
They make both Fords and Chevy's so people have have a choice.

I like both red and white oak. Yes, red oak can display 'pits' but that characteristic can be managed by proper sanding and finishing.

Maple and walnut can be beautiful woods, but they also be plain and boring - it all depends on the grain pattern in the piece of wood you have. However, plain walnut segemented together with plain maple can be very attractive - the segmenting and constrast offset the lack of interesting grain patterns.

Cedar - not so much. But again, that's a Ford vs Chevy situation - some people like cedar pens.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
Messages
2,142
Location
Wolf Creek Montana
I've turned all of these but not always pens. Oak does appear to be pitty at times and can be frustrating with your finish, but it's still nice to turn. My favorite of your list is Walnut then Maple. Both are easy turns and take finish well.

Here's a couple I turned recently.
Left PSI Bella in Walnut, right PSI Cigar in White Oak.



bella in walnut.jpgBig Ben Cigar in Jack Daniels and Rhodium.jpg
 

Madman1978

Member
Joined
Sep 14, 2020
Messages
105
Location
Springfield
Of the woods you mention, Maple and Walnut. . I don't like turning the others ... either because of the way they turn or the way they finish.
As PreacherJon said, Oak has little pits. . I believe there are some varieties of Cedar which turn OK but finishing is somewhat iffy.

I think I mentioned Bocote to you as my favorite wood for turning and finishing. . It seems to be harder to get than previously but it turns nicely and finishes nicely ... you can even get a very nice finish just by sanding and buffing ... not shiny gloss but I like a sort of matte finish.
I will get some Bocote! I promise!
 

donstephan

Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2016
Messages
228
Location
Cincinnati Ohio
Oak has more open grain, which creates a texture when the larger wood cells are cut across. Walnut and mahogany do as well, but the open cells are smaller. One way to identify mahogany furniture that has been stained is to look for short thin lines everywhere, the open cells that were filled with stain. Look at a finished walnut piece with a raking light - a strong light on the other side of the piece that is shining on the surface with an acute angle, and the surface may not look glass smooth because of the small open cells.

To get a filled pore finish, many will apply several coats of gloss finish and then sand back till a raking light shows a uniform shine or sheen. Sand back just a little and the bottom of the open pores is still shiny while the surrounding surface is dull because the surrounding surface was scratched by the sandpaper and the bottom of the open pores was not. Simply applying a number of coats to raw open pore wood may not achieve a filled pore finish, and if it does the thickness of the finish may be noticeable, that's why the first few coats are sanded back to get a level coat with a thick film buildup.
 

goldendj

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Messages
60
Location
Virginia
To get a filled pore finish, many will apply several coats of gloss finish and then sand back till a raking light shows a uniform shine or sheen. Sand back just a little and the bottom of the open pores is still shiny while the surrounding surface is dull because the surrounding surface was scratched by the sandpaper and the bottom of the open pores was not. Simply applying a number of coats to raw open pore wood may not achieve a filled pore finish, and if it does the thickness of the finish may be noticeable, that's why the first few coats are sanded back to get a level coat with a thick film buildup.
I read somewhere (can't remember) about sanding with CA to fill the pores with wood dust. Tried it when I had trouble with wenge and birds' eye oak--sanded as normal to 220 or 320, then sanded again at the same grit while applying CA to the wood. Once cured, I continued finishing as normal.

Even if you're not finishing with CA, might try this and sand it down further to remove all the CA on the surface leaving the pores filled.
 

howsitwork

Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2016
Messages
981
Location
Thirsk
Got to admit Im in Jim’s camp on this. Used all those woods and sometimes the grain figure adds to the attraction ( and texture) , other times a high gloss works but for my own pens I like texture.

Try em all and see what YOU like , that’s why we’re here after all ....
 
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