Which Part of the Buckeye Burl Blank Looks Best in a Pen?

Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
135
This buckeye burl blank has a dark side and a light side. It will become a single tube pen for a gift. I have no experience turning buckeye burl.

How would you position the tube? Which position is likely to look best?

a. Mostly in the light side on the left?
b. Mostly in the dark side on the right?
c. In the middle, 50/50?

Buckeye Burl Stabilized Pen Blank.JPG
 
Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad

magpens

Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2011
Messages
9,967
Location
Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Most DEFINITELY: a. Mostly in the light side on the left?

Looks to me that the tube you show would pretty much use up all of the light side, with maybe just a ring of the dark.

I would go with that.
 

SteveG

Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2009
Messages
2,752
Location
Eugene, Oregon 97404
I my view, one of the outstanding qualities of this wood is the extreme contrast of amazing coloration that all fit on to a pen. So I suggest that you utilize the blank to include all the colors available in that blank. I would loose about a half inch from the left end when paring down the blank. You may have to adjust that slightly, since my suggestion is based on seeing only two surfaces of the blank. It will be beautiful!
 

Sprung

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2014
Messages
725
Location
Sanborn, MN
I could go either way - both would look good. But so would going right in the center for a half light/half dark look, with the lighter end being toward the nib/writing end of the pen.

But there are two things I might consider also in my decision:
1. Which end of the blank has better figure to it? I'd probably go with that end. On the sides pictured, that appears to be the lighter end, so that is likely what I would choose. (Though the other two sides could tell a different story.)

2. What plating does the kit you are going to use have on it? With a darker plating, like Black Ti, I would choose the darker side. With Chrome, I would lean towards the lighter side. And Gold? Friends don't let friends use gold plated kits - Gold Ti being the only occasional exception.
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
135
First and foremost, thanks to everyone for their input and suggestions. Here is a photo of the turned blank. I chucked it in pen jaws and turned it, then finished it with Hut Crystal Coat. For those who asked, the blank will be used in a Penn State (PSI) Dog dog pen with Chrome finish:

https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKDOGCH.html

I was in a big hurry at the time, so I didn't round off the sharp edges with a belt sander. The unsupported end chipped a lot, and I got other chip outs too. The very sharp roughing gouge made the worst chip outs, and the carbide tools didn't do much better, even with fresh edges. The skew chisel was not happy, either. The best tool, by far, was the very sharp spindle gouge. It worked perfectly. I gave the turned blank a quick finish of Hut Crystal Coat. At this point, the blank is drilled, the tube is inside, and I am waiting overnight for the glue to cure.

I wanted to have something quick to share with all of you, so here it is. The tube is more in the light part of the blank, but there will be enough of the dark part to make the pen interesting, I hope. Buckeye Burl Turned Finished.JPG
 

mecompco

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
1,607
Location
Fairfield, Maine
Looks good. I love to include the knots, although of course they can cause trouble. Really makes the BEB pop I think. Is that chunk you're using stabilized? Probably is, and that does make it pretty dense to turn. I always use max speed and a sharp R2 cutter.
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
135
Yes, the buckeye burl blank is stabilized. It was purchased at the local Rockler store. I know someone who buys many (most?) of the buckeye burl blanks at the store, so I asked him to pick out two "second best" ones for me. :)

I tried a new R2 cutter on it. It worked better than the SR2 cutter, but still chipped out. The 3/8 inch spindle gouge worked the best, by far. I will turn the cutters and sharpen my tools. I will try fresh SR2, S2, and R2 cutters, try the skew again, and fall back on that spindle gouge if nothing else works. All with the lightest touch I can master. Maybe now that it is more of a cylinder, it will turn easier and chip less. I may get to practice my chip fill technique. We'll see.

I hope to turn the pen today. We want to give it to the recipient Friday morning.
 

mecompco

Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2015
Messages
1,607
Location
Fairfield, Maine
Yes, the buckeye burl blank is stabilized. It was purchased at the local Rockler store. I know someone who buys many (most?) of the buckeye burl blanks at the store, so I asked him to pick out two "second best" ones for me. :)

I tried a new R2 cutter on it. It worked better than the SR2 cutter, but still chipped out. The 3/8 inch spindle gouge worked the best, by far. I will turn the cutters and sharpen my tools. I will try fresh SR2, S2, and R2 cutters, try the skew again, and fall back on that spindle gouge if nothing else works. All with the lightest touch I can master. Maybe now that it is more of a cylinder, it will turn easier and chip less. I may get to practice my chip fill technique. We'll see.

I hope to turn the pen today. We want to give it to the recipient Friday morning.
Yes, will certainly turn better once round. Not sure what speed you turn at, but I turn at max speed all the time--works well for me. Really the only major issue I've had with it is the odd knot falling out. Now I drizzle thin CA around them periodically while turning if I have any inclination at all that they might come out. Looking forward to seeing your completed pen. :)
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
135
I turn at max speed, too. It turned better once it was a cylinder. I tried all the tools after sharpening the HSS and rotating the carbide:

HSS:
* Roughing gouge - worked better than before. Peeled off strips, but was too big to feel comfortable.
* Spindle gouge - worked best.
* Skew chisel - worked GREAT until I got a big ugly catch (... that I was able to turn down without fill). I put it away to save for the next (easier) pen. I am still practicing with the skew, but much improved.

Carbide:
* S2 - Okay. Hard to avoid those corners.
* SR2 - Good, not great.
* R2 - Better than SR2, but not by much. Second best to the spindle gouge.

There was one very bad chip out at the dark end, next to the bushing, where I could see the side of the bushing (!!). I had saved the sawdust from drilling, so I turned the chip up, covered the lathe bed, stuck in sawdust and chips, added thin CA, and waited. It worked well enough until I realized that I had glued the bushing to the wood. With careful work, I freed it. It turned down smooth and nobody will ever notice it except me. I chose to leave the small holes in the wood for character, but they were not chip outs, just gaps.

Here is the resulting pen. Thanks once more to everyone for their great advice and expertise.

Dog Click Pen Buckeye Burl.JPG
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
135
Here are follow-up questions:

What trees do Woodturningz stabilized buckeye burl blanks come from? Are they Horse Chestnut? American Chestnut? Something else?

Can I assume that it grew in the USA? Where does it grow? What state or region of the country?

(FYI, I am looking for info to put on the gift label. So far, my internet research on "buckeye", "buckeye burl", etc. has yielded a lot of conflicting information from people who don't know.)
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
135
The blank I purchased at Rockler has a label from "WoodTurningz, Inc." I wrote to WoodTurningz about buckeye burl, and their President, Ryan Polokoff, responded with: "Here's a writeup from a competitor which does a better job of explaining more about buckeye burl:"

https://www.cookwoods.com/blogs/articles/all-about-buckeye-burl

Much appreciation goes to Ryan Polokoff and WoodTurningz for sharing the information, especially considering the source. Cudos to the original author (Catherine Cook) for her excellent writeup. There is a lot of great information about how the buckeye burl is processed into useable wood, which is not an easy task.

Armed with that information, I was able to find more online. According to my research, the Rockler and WoodTurningz "Stabilized Buckeye Burl Clear" pen blanks come from the California Horse-Chestnut, which grows in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
 

1080Wayne

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2006
Messages
2,619
Location
Brownfield, Alberta, Canada.
Most probably California buckeye , but Ohio buckeye also possible . Horse chestnut seldom sold but might be similar in appearance under the right growing conditions . American chestnut is from a different family .
 
Top Bottom