What Do You Do When You Find a Void?

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Newfoundland
Hey All

So, last night I started with an absolutely stunning piece of Amboyna Burl. As I started working it down on the lathe I found that the centre has hollows that looked like they were created by insects.

That left me with 2 choices, proceed and finish the pen or scrap it for a new piece of wood. Given that Amboyna Burl isn’t cheap, I decided to forge ahead and finish the pen.

I have to say that I’m glad I did. The pen turned out beautifully and I think the flaws add some character.

What do you do when you encounter large voids or other flaws in wooden pens?

Here are a few pics of the finished pen:

IMG_0543.JPGIMG_0544.JPGIMG_0545.JPGIMG_0540.JPG


“Pen Turning on the Rock”
 
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RKB

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Wow...that Blank is Stunning. Very well done.:biggrin:

Rod


PS...i use charcoal and CA for small inclusions and tinted epoxy for larger ones.
 

Woodchipper

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Depending on the type of wood I pack the small void with used fine coffee grounds and apply thin CA. Sometimes if they are really small I just use CA.

Wade
Interesting. The pen, IMHO, looks great. We all know that all wood isn't perfect. How we deal with anything we find, take advantage of the unusual and work around it is up to us.
I use the K-cups but will put a couple in the shop. However, I try to a-void voids.:rolleyes:
 

dogcatcher

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I fill in voids with either coffee grounds, crushed corn cob, or crushed walnut hulls. The coffee grounds are used that I have dried and saved, The walnut hulls and corncob are polishing media that I use in polishing my reloading brass.

The corncob polishing media can also be dyed, If I want color I have some that I have dyed turquoise, red, black and yellow.

All of this is used by gluing with CA in the void area. Drizzle a little CA in the void and pour some filler in the spot. Turn again and fill again or fill with CA as needed.
 

leehljp

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Agree the stone fillers really make them stand out. Turquoise is used as much as anything else in bowls with voids, and turquoise usually looks great with amboyna.
 

gimpy

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I cry.........not really, I actually look for imperfections like that

I have at times, taken the shavings and put them in a spice grinder
and make a real fine dust, I will use that to fill the voids and top it off
with CA and a spritz of accelerator
 

Curly

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As you can see there are a bunch of ways to deal with flaws in the blank ranging from nothing to filling with exotic stone dust. The standard for many is coffee grounds but don’t overlook the rest of the kitchen. Cocoa powder, cinnamon, curry, mustard, turmeric, chili and so on all have colours you can play with depending on whether you want to blend or contrast. Saving fine sanding dust from different wood is handy too. Have fun. Good job with the finish on that pen.
 

mark james

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I'll agree with all of the above.

For my experience: Coffee grounds; sand (sifted to 3 different dimensions); crushed shell (again, sifted x3); multiple colors of wood shavings; metal shavings; CA/plus colors.

So basically, you have many choices and all will work fine.

One last thought - just my personal opinion: If the void is not "down to the tube", meaning there is still some timber to be seen... - LEAVE IT! The void, and the space, if still displaying timber - is fine to leave. This will be then a personal choice to fill with CA, or leave as a texture - the void will be felt. To me this latter is not a flaw, but an asset.

Many choices. Many will work.

For your pen - Your remedy is excellent! Subtle, filled the void, did not detract from the basic grain. Well done. Nothing further was needed.
 
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greenacres2

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I've used finely ground powder lapis, turquoise, aluminum, and copper. Usually turn down to fairly close, press the powder into the void then drizzle in a little super thin CA and let it cure naturally (several hours to overnight). This carries the powder deeper into the void--i don't need it sitting on top.

I've also used ground coffee, tea, maple, walnut, mesquite and dust from what i'm turning--depends on the look i want. Often when turning burls i may paint the tubes if i have a hunch that i may hit a void--usually brown or black, but depends on the blank. That really worked in my favor last weekend as i had one open a large void near the center--and the fill was great.

The wood you're working has never existed before and never will exist again--never give up on it, especially a piece like you just turned--she rewarded you well!!
earl
 

dogcatcher

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I forget who taught me this trick, but he used plastic beads. In a designated spice grinder dump a handful of plastic beads, color of your choice, then grind them in to small bits. They are easier to turn, not like the small chunks of turquoise or other gem powders.
 

tomas

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I usually use a mixture of saw dust from the blank and thin CA. Once the void is filled and cured, I hand sand the "plug" down close to the level of the blank, go through my normal wet sanding and finishing process. This is just my method, which I don't think is any better or worse than any other mentioned here. Do what works for you.

Tomas
 

Woodchipper

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I forget who taught me this trick, but he used plastic beads. In a designated spice grinder dump a handful of plastic beads, color of your choice, then grind them in to small bits. They are easier to turn, not like the small chunks of turquoise or other gem powders.
Thanks for this tip. Hobby Lobby will be getting some more business. Wife has the 40% discount on her phone! Need to get a spice grinder. dogcatcher, where did you get yours?
 

greenacres2

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I need to turn a mortar & pestle!! Just mentioned that to my wife a few days ago for her to do salt with--think i'll do 2 so i can grind "void fillers"!!
earl
 

Brian G

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I'm lazy; I don't want to dry stuff or grind stuff.

A generous dollop of Pearl Ex or some other brand of mica powder mixed into 5 minute epoxy and mashed into the void has worked for me.
 

robutacion

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Just as a point of reference, grind coffee beans is one of the oldest and most commonly used materials used on repairing wood items, I lost count of the number of times I suggested that to people that never had heard of it and seemed a little suspicious/doubtful of my suggestion only to contact me at later times to comment on how surprised and pleased he/she was when they tried it.

The other suggestion is to keep/save a few shavings and or sawdust from different types of wood you used, I put them in coffee jars and you will be surprised at how easy is to find a match to the wood you are working at the moment, a good grinder is essential to turn the shavings or sawdust into the fine particles you need to use with glue, you also can get synthetic colour sticks in most woodworking stores.

In my opinion, if you are turning a pen out of wood and you find a void/defect, the decision of filling it or not will depend on what sort of finish you want to put on this pen if you want a natural look and feel the simple matt finish is desirable, in that case, the void should be left and not filled, that will become a feature that many people that buy pens like to see, on the other hand, putting a gloss finish on a pen that has void(s) and not filling them to match the surrounding wood surfaces so that is no interruption on the gloss finish look throughout is in my view an undesirable practice and look, every bit of surface where a gloss finish was applied should look like a mirror, as for the depth of the gloss finish that is all up to you, will it look OK with 5 coats or it will require 15 or 20 coats to get the deep gloss you may be after, either way, pens finished with a gloss coat, should not have any unfilled voids...!

Others may not agree with me and I'm OK with that, there are always multiple ways to skin a cat, this is what I do and I will stick with it...!:biggrin:

Cheers
George
 

dogcatcher

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I forget who taught me this trick, but he used plastic beads. In a designated spice grinder dump a handful of plastic beads, color of your choice, then grind them in to small bits. They are easier to turn, not like the small chunks of turquoise or other gem powders.
Thanks for this tip. Hobby Lobby will be getting some more business. Wife has the 40% discount on her phone! Need to get a spice grinder. dogcatcher, where did you get yours?
We have 2 Goodwill stores and 1 Salvation Army store here, my toaster oven, the spice grinder, and a crockpot for re-melting HDPE recyclable #2 plastic all came from these 3 stores.
 
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First off beautiful pen! It appears to be a Churchill, one I like the looks of. I’ve learned to keep shavings from whatever blank I’m turning in a dixie cup, if I get a small void I add thin CA, pack with shavings, and apply more CA. It usually takes a few packs to get the void completely filled. If it’s a larger void, I use epoxy with finely ground coffee beans mixed in. For anything larger than a shaving brush the void stays there and usually adds a nice organic look to the piece.
 
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