Pink Alabaster stone

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LeeK

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Feb 4, 2012
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Clinton, MI
Here are a few pics of my recent pens. I'm new to the forums and hope I am attaching the pics correctly.

When I purchased the stone, it was labeled as Soap Stone, however after working with it, I'm fairly certain it's actually alabaster. There was certainly a learning curve. It's very brittle and not forgiving like wood. Especially when pressing the pen parts together. I had to be very careful not to over pressure the parts.

So far I've made 3 successful pens and confident I can make more now that I understand the material much better.

These are finished to a polish. The first attempt I tried a CA glue finish, but the stone is not porous. The CA glue actually flaked off when I was doing the final polish. The stone itself has a beautiful gloss. I've read a few places to use a bit of paste wax, but even a touch of wax seemed to make it look dull, besides, as I mentioned, the stone isn't porous, so there's not much for anything to stick to.

Enjoy,

-Lee
SE Michigan
 

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thewishman

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Mar 9, 2006
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Lee, if you can make a stone slim, you can make any pen. Nice work!

I learned a trick from CaptG, and others, sand the inside of the tubes until the parts slide in, then epoxy the parts into the tubes (only put the epoxy on the female side of the joints). That way you eliminate the pressure that is caused by press fitting the parts in.
 

LeeK

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Feb 4, 2012
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Clinton, MI
Thanks Chris,
When I was finishing my third successful pen I was actually thinking about doing just what you suggested, but I was in a hurry to finish it and show my wife so I took the chance and used the pen press. :)

I might have a buyer for some, so if that works out, then I'll be sanding them for sure. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

Chasper

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Mar 22, 2007
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Nice work.

It looks like alabaster, but soapstone can have great variation. Here is how to tell the difference
1. Soapstone always feels a little waxie, like soap. Soapstone is made of talc and steatite, the talc is what makes it feel waxie. Also it is around 1.0 on the mohs hardness scale. You can always easily scratch it with your fingernail.
2. Alabaster doesn't have the waxie feel and it is between 1.5 and 3.0 on the mohs scale, depending on the relative proportion of gypsum and calcite. If there is a lot of calcite you won't be able to scratch it with your fingernail, and even if it is mostly gypsum you won't easily scratch it with your fingernail.

They make beautiful desk pens but not good carriers. If you carry them in your pocket with keys and change they will get scratched up or chipped quickly.
 

PTsideshow

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Dec 26, 2011
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Macomb County Michigan
On your use of soapstone, be aware that there is some discussion in the sculptor community about the fact that they have found asbestos in soapstone that have been labeled "Asbestos-Free". So make sure you use a mask rated for it,and during clean up don't use a regular shop vac unless it has a HEPA filter. Broom and dust pan Since once the asbestos fibers become air borne they can stay suspended in the currents for a day or longer.

Also wash the clothes you wear separately, as they have found out that pipecoverers, that worked with it before we became aware of the dangers, passed it to family members by the fibers becoming lodged in the clothes in the hamper etc.
:clown:
 

LeeK

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Feb 4, 2012
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Location
Clinton, MI
I certainly can not scratch it with my fingernail and it doesn't have that soft/waxy feel to it. I noticed it when I started to cut it with the band saw. Even the dust doesn't have a soft feel. It's actually a bit coarse. I'm 99% sure it's alabaster.

Thanks for the tip about possible asbestos. I had no idea that was an issue. I always ALWAYS wear a mask. :) But I didn't know about the possible transfer. As pretty as these pens are, I don't think I'll be working with the stone much. They are too fragile. Great for a desk, but not to carry as someone already said.
 

Haynie

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May 20, 2011
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Alabaster is pretty porous and it has taken a CA finish for me pretty well. I have just started using it for pens but have played with it for a while now in a sculptural sense.

Take a look at this site. he has a pretty easy way of stabilizing the stone so it is less brittle. until I started using it for pens I never had to worry about the brittle nature but the natural fissures cause issues at the thinness we are turning it too.

What color did you paint your tube.
 

LeeK

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Feb 4, 2012
Messages
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Location
Clinton, MI
Thanks for the information.

I've had it confirmed by a professional in the stone business and also the recipient of the pen. He confirms it is certainly pink alabaster.

The stone is not porous, however it can have a lot of microfractures for thin CA to be drawn into it through capulary action. The surface of the stone can also take on the CA glue if it is scored. The stone itself is not porous. If you apply CA glue to the surface and then sand even slightly you can see even just a few mills under the CA glue has no glue, unlike most woods that allow the glue to soak in a little bit. Having micro fractures is not the same as being porous.

This is actually a good thing. The stone itself can be polished to a glass finish without the need of a lacquer or CA glue finish applied. Even trying to finish it with a wax tends to dull the overall appearence. Polishing the stone actually goes faster for me then sanding down, polishing, and finishing any wood I've ever used.
 
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