Where to find pinecones for making blanks?

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eranox

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Sep 12, 2012
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Killeen, TX
I've seen several examples of people turning pens frome pinecones, with some breathtaking results. Unfortunately, we don't have any pinecones near where I live, and I wouldn't know what type and what age the pinecones would need to be, regardless.

Can anyone give me some advice on making blanks out of pinecones, and where to find suitable pinecones?
 
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PenMan1

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Eatonton, Georgia
I live in South Georgia, so walking outside barefooted is ONE way to find pine cones and Sweetgum balls for casting. All you have to do is remove them from your bare foot.

In all seriousness, look around and see if you have a local plant store or vendor that sells or installs pine straw. When they "put out" the pine staw in flower beds, etc, they have to remove the cones. I'll bet they'll sell you the cones for little of nothing.
 

healeydays

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Bedford NH
Best bet is look in your yard and see what is local to you. Offer a trade of your something local for someone else's something local to them. That way you both get something neither can easily get...
 

Scruffy

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My back yard has close to a hundred pine cones on the ground. I usually burn them around this time.

Of course, when I lived in Arizona I also trimmed my mesquite and iron wood trees and threw away the ALL the branches.

Sigh maybe I will learn someday.
 

eranox

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Killeen, TX
Thank you all for the info on sources.

My concern is that certain pinecones don't look like they would be suitable for turning. They either seem green, solid, and full of sap, or they seem old, dried out, brittle, and spindly. Any advice on what species to use, what stage (young green or old and brittle), and any specifics such as whether they should be dry or somewhat moist? I'm also not too sure about how to turn a pinecone into a blank once I get ahold of the suitable type.
 

Mason Kuettel

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Oct 25, 2010
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Weatherford TX
I have turned sugar pine cones with good results...and A LOT of CA glue! I have also tried some of the local cones (not sure what they are) with not as good of results, but OK nonetheless. I have tried both opened and closed cones and the open ones worked best because the seeds had already escaped so they weren't thrown out at me as I turned.

As far as making them into a blank once you get them-cut the "leaves" off and start soaking it with CA. I have never heard of someone actually stabilizing a pine cone but it may be a good way to start. Then you can drill and turn but turning was a slow process for me because of all the stopping and filling with CA. Patience was key.

Hope this helps!
 

mharvey

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Jan 19, 2013
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Tracy Ca
the issue is...the leaves will ten to pull away if you heat them...and you need to turn them.

Start by cutting down to 1/4" greater than your blank..on each side...ENSURE you use the lathe techique to drill exactly in the center and you will not have blowouts on the end.

Use a sander to round them and reduce the torque while you turn...use a super sharp tool...and harden..with wood hardener or CA...CA often while tooling or you will get a fracture and the tube will show....consider....using sand paper one you get round to prevent the tooling risk...yes...this one is tender....expect to blow several while learning...recover the tube..and do over....
 

Jim Burr

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If you're using tiny pine cones, try to use a 1x1x6 block mold for casting and do it under pressure!!! See how that works.
 

Gary Beasley

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Sep 18, 2009
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Marietta, Ga. USA
As far as making them into a blank once you get them-cut the "leaves" off and start soaking it with CA. I have never heard of someone actually stabilizing a pine cone but it may be a good way to start. Then you can drill and turn but turning was a slow process for me because of all the stopping and filling with CA. Patience was key.

Hope this helps!

I've stabilised them. It helps a bit in turning, you still have to avoid the pen mill like the plague though. FWIW I haven't had to do much filling with CA until I finish the unstabilised blank, using a skew the longleaf pine cones seem to do okay. Most important item to take care of is to soak the blanks from the inside with thin CA before gluing the tubes in. It helps keep the wood from wicking the CA from the tube when gluing them in and you get way better results.
 

arioux

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Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada.
If there is a golf club near you, just ask the marshall or the starter if you can take a walk at the end of the day to pick some (most golf club have pine and some big one) Give him a pen ! he will be happy
 
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