Saturday, October 19, 2013

October Meeting at John's House

Alright, we had a field trip this month and all met in the garage/workshop of John Rickle's.  He makes a whole slew of custom pens and sells them at various craft fairs and on his website.  Here's a LINK to his site so you can see all that he does.  Before the meeting though, here are the 20+ of our members gathered in his garage waiting for his presentation.
Before getting under way though there were a few items of business that were brought up.  First off there is an employment opportunity for someone who can do work on the table saw and glue ups of this companies projects.  They are located in the general area of China Town and are making wall paneling and other items from wine barrels and grape stakes.  Contact Jamie if you're interested to get the full details.

Speaking of Jamie, we have only two months to go to come up with our project for the 2 x 4 x 8 Challenge.  This will be judged anonymously during our Christmas party and everyone who's interested should bring their creation to that meeting.  What can you create from one construction grade stick of lumber, that's the challenge.  You may add paint, hardware, dowels, biscuits, upholstery, dominos, fasteners, etc. but not any more wood material than what you can obtain from that initial stick of wood.

The past weekend found Diane and I testing the waters with our first ever craft fair.  Quite an experience to say the least.  This is what our tent/booth looked like at the beginning of the fair. It was a great experience,  financially we broke even and showed a profit after the start up costs.  We needed to get the tent, make the displays, banners, table coverings, booth fees, etc.   Diane has already picked up two custom orders for her work and I'm still hopeful that some of those that expressed an interest in my work will contact me.  Couldn't ask for better public exposure and feedback from the fair goers.  Thanks to those of you that were able to stop by and visit.  The fair ended about an hour earlier then scheduled with an unexpected downpour!

The last bit of business dealt with the woodturners club exhibition at the Summerlin Library located at 1771 Inner Circle Drive.  Diane and I visited it today and there are some really good looking examples of turned wood including some from our own Ed Thiesson.  The show runs until the 9th. of November so be sure to stop by and see it.

 Now, on to the main topic of the meeting: John Rickles and his woodturning skills at making pens.  Here he is holding the large gouge he prefers to use when he's working on them.  At first glance you may think to yourself why in the world would you use this massive tool to turn something as small as a pen?  Well, his explanation made perfect sense; with a large cutting edge like that he's able to have a lot of sharpened surface to use before he has to re-sharpen the tool.  He simply rotates to an unused part of it as the edge dulls from wear.  And wear it will, the material of the pen blanks he uses range from plain old wood to resins impregnated with bits of metal and stone.  Prices for the blanks run the gamut from $10.00 to $50.00 and more.  It's pretty delicate and precise work and he's set up his shop so the majority of the work is done at this station:

This work station, along with most of his other tools are mobile so he can actually park a car in the garage --- something most of us probably can't do!
     Once he selects the blank for the pen he wants to make, the first step is to take it and drill it out for the pen mechanism to fit into.  For that, he uses a 2 jaw chuck in his lathe with a drill bit mounted in the tailstock.  This insures that the hole is exactly centered.  

After cutting the blank to the required length it is then mounted on this special mandrel for turning.  This was the pen he started his demonstration with when we first arrived.
After all of the cutting and shaping was complete it's time to sand and finish the barrel for his show quality shine.  For this operation the tool rest is moved aside and works through various grits of abrasives to smooth things out.  To clean and remove any residue from the process he uses a rag dampened with boiled linseed oil.  Now comes the finish which is either CA adhesive by itself or used in combination with some boiled linseed oil.  CA is a type of adhesive most of us know as Crazy Glue but it has been developed to be much more than that today.  It comes in different thicknesses and is used not only as an adhesive but also to stabilize "punky" wood and finish as John demonstrated.  Here's a LINK to the Wikipedia listing on it if you'd like to know more about it.  After multiple coats of this fast drying finish he will sand and polish the pen using micro mesh sponges that range any where from 1500 to 12000 grit.  John mentioned that these are available from Woodworkers Emporium and although I couldn't find them on their website here's an Amazon LINK to what they are.  There seemed to be a lot of interest in them so all I'm going to say is please buy local.
     Okay, back to the demo.  The next step was to mount this mandrel with 3 buffing wheels between centers on his lathe.

A combination of different rouges including tripoli were used here.  John mentioned several times that you really need to be careful to not let the heat build up as you work these on pens.  The resins used will break down if you allow the work to get too hot.  Obviously he knows what he's doing as this completed barrel shows:

After some careful smoothing of the barrels edges what remains was to press the innards into the barrel.  He used a special press for this as you can see here:
 It's pretty apparent that John loves making these pens and has really developed his skills.  They are an outstanding example of woodwork and works of art as well.  Great combination -- beauty and functionality.  If you want to review and see again the various steps needed to make these pens you're in luck!  Here's a link to the video that our intrepid photographer, Lupe,  took while John worked his magic on the lathe:

Last but not least, I'd like to thank John's wife Mary for making all of the wonderful refreshments for out meeting at their home.  Hopefully all of you got your sweet tooth satisfied and also saw the amazing train set that John built.  Here's a few photos of that --- see you next month!
Suspended from the ceiling!

Going through the wall!

Track details, I believe he told me it's Poplar.

No comments:

Post a Comment