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Thread: Question for Burl Pen Turners

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Central Iowa
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    Question for Burl Pen Turners

    I bought an assortment of burl pen blanks on EBAY. I turned one from Red Mallee burl for my pen swap for Kevin. It looked really nice, dark red with lots of figure and I was very pleased. I didn't send it because my daughter had the camera at school but when I pulled it out this past weekend to snap a picture prior to shipping, it had fine hairline cracks following the figure in the wood. I've done stabilized blanks but never a basic burl. I sanded slow to keep the heat down. I've had the blanks for 3-4 months and they seemed dry.

    Any ideas ?

    I'm just glad I didn't send it to Kevin.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    North Ogden, Utah
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    348
    I've never turned malee burl for a pen but have done quite a few local box elder burl pens. When I get them down to the point that they're ready for sanding I usually saturate the wood with CA. Box Elder is soft and will soak up a lot of it and then it becomes pretty hard and stable for sanding. I'm not sure if that would cure the cracks with mallee but I'd bet it would.
    Last edited by Curt Fuller; 01-29-2008 at 02:15 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    I have a pile of various burls blanks on my bench ready to send off for stabilizing. Burls are just looking for excuses to come apart. Plus the stable process brings out figure and contrasts. Mallee does especially well with being stabilized. And, at the price, worth the extra to get a 'stable' knock-out beautiful pen. Your pen may be salvageable with CA.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Southern Indiana
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    4
    Hello Doug, I have turned severial burl pens. I have seen severial cracks after turning. The CA mentioned by Curt would work very well. Just don't wait until sanding, put it on before the final cuts. Burl is salso Very hard and aggress cuts can break big ans small chuncks out very quickly, so take small cut.

    Good luck, and don't give up. But if you think that burls are tough don't even try a Snakewood blank. Most people can't even get them drilled....

    Mike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    I have a pile of various burls blanks on my bench ready to send off for stabilizing.
    Can someone tell me where you would send blanks to be stabilized?
    Also, should the blank already be cut to the size you'd start turning it at or can larger pieces be stabilized and then cut to the blank sizes?
    Thanks,
    .....Gord

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gord Rock View Post
    Can someone tell me where you would send blanks to be stabilized?
    Also, should the blank already be cut to the size you'd start turning it at or can larger pieces be stabilized and then cut to the blank sizes?
    Thanks,
    .....Gord
    Check out: http://www.rrpwhite.com/
    River Ridge has been good to do business with. The site is self-explanatory. I would cut the wood to blank size before sending off. Their charges are based on weight after the stable process. Sending larger could mean you would pay for waste being stabilized. Also large pieces might not penetrate completely.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    San Antonio, Texas
    Posts
    765
    Doug, some burls will turn fine w/o stabilization, but others will not. And it really isn't species specific. All of the Amboyna burl I've turned has done well w/o being stabilized, but I've seen others who had to have theirs stabilized to keep it together. If it looks "questionable" I send it in. I have some that I've been told will explode if I just look at it wrong. It will be sent in shortly.

    Gord, I use River Ridge for all of my stabilization. Pen blanks usually run about $1 per blank, but the cost is actually based on weight (how much medium the blanks absorb). They are good people with first rate service.

    EDIT: I gotta learn to type faster.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2007
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    Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
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    Frank & Billy,
    Thanks a lot, I'll check them out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Drums, PA
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    I've turned allot of burl and none of it was ever stabilized. I never have problems with it cracking

    If the wood is cracking while on the tubes it just means the wood never reached EMC (Equilibrium Moisture Content) and is shrinking.

    Here is what I sometimes do.
    Between centers, I round out the blank. Then I drill a undersized hole into the blank. Let it sit for a month to a year in a area that is equal to the ambient moisture of where the finished pen will be used. ie, if you store the wood in a cold, damp basement, then later move the finished pen to a dry living room you are asking for trouble every time.

    When the wood has reached EMC, I drill out the hole to the correct size, insert the tube, and complete the pen.

    When Frank sends out blanks to be stabilized, the moisture in the blank is replaced by a resin or plastic. While this also works, I don't think the expense is worth it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Central Iowa
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    Thanks for the info. I may send in the rest of my stash to get stabilized. They weren't terribly expensive but I hate to waste them.


    Doug

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