Inlace Acrylester

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Madman1978

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Sep 14, 2020
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Springfield
This past weekend I attempted to turn some of this stuff. I should have known I would have a problem with it. I know I am mostly still new to this but this crap was horrible. It chipped in cutting to size. Then attempting to turn it, nothing but chips and chatter. Once I thought I was doing well it would have massive chatter and huge tear-outs.

Any special ways to turn this?
 
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Darrin

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Aug 4, 2008
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I prefer skew cuts and negative rake carbide with this stuff.
Sharp tools and light cuts.
Tool rest height alignment is also important when using carbide for me.
 

eharri446

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Mar 17, 2016
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A round carbide with small cuts. Hold the carbide on a bit of an angle and do shear cuts. You can also use a spindle maker gouge if you have one. Just take your time with it. I use wet or dry sand paper starting with 150 grit up to 800 or 1000. Then use Micro Mesh starting with the coarsest up to the finest. The use some plastic polish and it will really shine.
 

qquake

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Feb 8, 2004
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Northern California
I used to hate turning inlace acrylester when I was using HSS chisels. I had all the problems you mentioned and more. But since I started using a carbide chisel with shearing cuts, I've had great success. I prefer a square carbide cutter with a radiused edge, but have used square cutters with no radius and gotten the same results. I tried negative rake cutters, and they do work better when the edge is held parallel to the blank, but have found they're not necessary when using shearing cuts. My chisel shaft is round, so I can rotate the cutter to whatever angle cuts the best. It's worth it, there are some truly spectacular inlace blanks.
 

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qquake

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I forgot to mention one other thing that helps, me at least. I "knock the corners off" with the bandsaw before I start turning the blanks. I find this helps with the initial "roughing".
 

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egnald

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Jun 9, 2017
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Inlace Acrylester - In my opinion are some of the most beautiful of the modern plastic blanks. If I recall correctly, Inlace Acrylester is a trademark name which is associated with a polyester resin. The resin is manufactured by Reichhold, a global supplier of polyester based resins, but I believe the Trademark is owned by WoodTurningz. As you have found it is one of the more brittle compositions. The same thing that makes it so brittle and hard to work with is what permits it to be so heavily loaded with pigments and powders resulting in the beautiful appearance.

As someone has already noted, use sharp tools, negative rake grind is a plus, and make your final cuts with sandpaper starting at a pretty coarse grit.

For a more pleasant initial plastic turning experience I would recommend Alumilite blanks. Alumilite is a urethane based resin. In my opinion it is on the opposite end of the brittleness spectrum from Inlace Acrylester. Although it turns more like wood it still polishes to a high gloss with just wet sanding (MicroMesh) and buffing or polishing. I really like the DiamondCast blanks from Tim McKenzie (from McKenzie Penworks or Turners Warehouse).

Then in between are a whole host of other plastic blanks. One of my favorites is Rhino Plastic blanks. Like Inlace Acrylester they are made using a polyester resin; however, this formulation is less brittle and considerably less "chippy" than Inlace Acrylester. Although it is still up on the brittle end of things, it is easier to turn than Inlace Acrylester and still produces stunning results. Rhino blanks can be purchased from Ed at ExoticBlanks, and Bear Tooth Woods. I think Penn State even sells some combo packs.

So, to reiterate, I recommend trying out some Alumilite blanks and then graduating to Rhino Plastic before tackling Inlace Acrylester.

Regards,
Dave
 
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qquake

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Another plus with Rhino blanks is they're larger at 7/8" square. Perfect for larger pens.
 

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MRDucks2

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You can turn an Inlace Acrylester blank from square to final shape with a skew approach the blank lightly and riding the bevel or with a gouge, as noted, held on its side similar to a skew and also riding the bevel. Using both approach’s you may get light chipping as you knock the corners off but continuing to use the same method they go away as you approach the maximum round diameter. You should start with a freshly sharpened tool and may need to touch it up during the turning process. I know o typically do when using my HF tools on it. As you get it round keep your cuts quick and light to avoid any catches. No different that turning many materials, it is just much less forgiving to an error in technique or approach. Never had to use sandpaper to shape, only to finish.

OR you can use a negative rake carbide cutter, negative rake skew or negative rake approach (careful with that one). The negative rake tools make it much easier to turn.

When I started turning I lived within a drive of WoodTurningz so all of my first resin blanks were IA. I presumed they would all be like that so worked until I could turn them. Imagine my surprise on my first Urethane blank. Hard to beat beat the easy finish and depth of finish of IA.
 

magpens

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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Well .... EXTREMELY LIGHT CUTS is my suggestion. . I would ESTIMATE a cut thickness of about 0.002" ... yep, that's only 2 thou !!

Plan on an hour to round the blank .... and you will be really tired doing it .... not to mention bored.

It is worth it in the end for the beautiful shiny finish after shaping and polishing.
 

qquake

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Well .... EXTREMELY LIGHT CUTS is my suggestion. . I would ESTIMATE a cut thickness of about 0.002" ... yep, that's only 2 thou !!

Plan on an hour to round the blank .... and you will be really tired doing it .... not to mention bored.

It is worth it in the end for the beautiful shiny finish after shaping and polishing.
An hour to round the blank? You Canadians are slow!
 

PatrickR

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Apr 8, 2017
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Rural America
I really like the stuff. i knock the corners off and use a home made cutter on a metal lathe that looks just like the one shown earlier.
i use this cutter for all wood and plastic finish cuts.
38F955FC-9B1C-4F3E-9431-3F9C536EF9CE.jpeg
 

egnald

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Columbus, Nebraska, USA
Another plus for Rhino is the quality to price ratio. High quality - low price. Ed at Exotic Blanks usually features a few Rhino blanks for only $2.50 per blank and almost all of the rest are only $3.00. - Dave
 

MPVic

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Dec 23, 2011
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Hamilton, ON, Canada
I used to hate turning inlace acrylester when I was using HSS chisels. I had all the problems you mentioned and more. But since I started using a carbide chisel with shearing cuts, I've had great success. I prefer a square carbide cutter with a radiused edge, but have used square cutters with no radius and gotten the same results. I tried negative rake cutters, and they do work better when the edge is held parallel to the blank, but have found they're not necessary when using shearing cuts. My chisel shaft is round, so I can rotate the cutter to whatever angle cuts the best. It's worth it, there are some truly spectacular inlace blanks.
Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to post photographs!! That finished pen is stunning beautiful match of the blanks and hardware.
 

wwillimon

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Apr 12, 2021
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Location
Greenwood SC
I tried this stuff and made a mess. Blank broke and as for now will not use it again until I get carbide cutters.
 

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eharri446

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Wesley, do not be in such a hurry to give up on IA, If you use sharp tools, light cuts, and sand paper you will be amazed at how you will be able to turn them. I turned my first couple of IA blanks using tools that I bought at Harbor Freight, and I also experienced a lot of chipping. However, one day I was in my local ROCKLER store and one of the salesmen told me to try a SORBY spindle master and a round carbide. I have been using them ever since and have had great results with them. One thing that I do different, due to shop constraints, is to use a wood rasp similar to these: 4 sided wood file, to round over the corners a bit before I start turning.
 

penicillin

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Feb 27, 2019
Messages
495
My first two inlace acrylester pen blanks blew up on the lathe. I stuck with it and now I get reliable results with inlace acrylester. It can yield beautiful pens with little practice. Once you get the hang of it, you will scratch your head and ask, "Why did I think this was so challenging?"

My Secret to Success with Inlace Acrylester:
Before turning, I put the blank in a ratchet clamp with the corner edge exposed. I use the ratchet clamp as a handle to round the corner edge on the pen blank. It doesn't have to be pretty, just round off the sharp corner. Roll the blank as you round it, and pay attention to the front/back symmetry as well. It doesn't have to be perfect. Rotate the blank and reclamp, rounding each edge in turn.
CAUTION: The fine dust that results from this step is incredibly messy and has static cling is like no other. I always perform this task outside with a dust mask and have learned to set up the shop vac to capture as much dust as possible. At first, I used a hand belt sander clamped upside-down in a Workmate workbench in the backyard, until I got a benchtop belt sander. Be careful.

I use carbide and HSS steel (skew, roughing gouge, and spindle gouge). I keep working on my HSS skills, but when the going gets tough with the inlace acrylester, I reach for the carbide - round and square radius tips do best for me. It takes me three times as long to do an inlace acrylester pen as it does for wood - but I am slow, careful, and patient.

Keep the lathe speed as high as it goes, your tools sharp, and take light cuts ... but everyone always says that for every pen question I see here. Be patient; practice makes perfect!

Holographic Black Inlace Acrylester Pen.JPG
 
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