When Accidents Happen

Some days you can’t win for losing.  Other days you’re truckin’ along and kickin’ butt and then all of a sudden SCHWACK!

So yeah – my carbide tool was getting bored and wanted a little adventure, a little excitement, and decided to jump into the tip of this cap hard.

Even scarier than that is that it jerked the cap sideways in the collet.  My heart skipped a beat and I was sure the cap was going to be cracked or crushed behind the collet.  I turned off the lathe and looked at the cap, applying a little pressure here and there to be sure of where it was broken.  Nothing.  Whew!  I couldn’t believe it.  No damage at all.  Not even a little scratch — well — except the one on the top of the cap.
It was okay, there was plenty of material on there to clean up and keep going, but it scared the hell out of me.  Little slips like this happen occassionally, and luckily it wasn’t irreperable because this stuff is $40 a rod.  I’d hate to throw away a whole cap.

Should be able to get the pen done this afternoon.

Sleeping is better than working

For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to stay up late last night and make a pen.  This one.  It was 11 or so when I started it.  I should have realized nearly an hour into it that I should pack it up and go to bed.  No.  I kept on.  I started moving slower and slower.  A decision that I normally wouldn’t even think about would take a couple minutes.  Instead of moving from one step to the next pretty much without thinking about them I would have to go slow and be sure, then double check that this was the right drill bit or tap or that this was indeed the next step.

I made it and it’s a good pen, but I did have a little ooops.  I even filmed it.  That was dumb. So I’ll show you all and embarrass myself.  🙂

So a video and now a slide show.

A little problem with alumilite… oops.

Every now and then I run into a problem.  Usually the problem is a slip – something I did wrong – a step I left out – going too fast or too slow.  Yesterday I had a problem with a cap.

  • Sandstone color explosion blank.

Turned round between centers.
Stuck in 20mm collet.
drilled for cap
23/64 to make room for nib
17/32 to make room for section and to thread it

There. That’s it. The pen screws in but it’s wobbly. Instead of the barrel going in straight it goes in crooked.

So I’m thinking the problem is that I didn’t make any steps between the two drill bits and possibly didn’t keep things cool enough. Drilled too fast.

I ordered two more blanks but it stinks that I had to do all this.

  • It didn’t go crooked until the section meshed with the shoulder inside the cap. If I put just the section in and pushed it against the inner cap shoulder the section was all wonky. For some reason the inner shoulder was out of whack.
  • I tried a different cap on the pen so I know the problem is in the cap. All I can figure is the shoulder in the cap got messed up somehow. It looks smooth and clean so I have no clue why it behaved this way. I also tried this section in another pen and it all went together fine. As far as I can tell that narrows it down to a bad cap. Don’t know how I did it, but I did. I’m thinking when I drilled the 17/32 out I must have gotten it too hot. I didn’t pull out and clear waste as often as I usually do. This stuff is deceptively easy to turn, drill, and thread, and that got me into trouble. :)At least I think that’s what happened. Next time I’m going to drill and thread it before I turn it round.

Something about behind the scenes…

Pretty much since I can remember I have always enjoyed seeing behind the scenes shots – either of movie special effects (like Jurassic Park), an artist’s studio, or just about anything else you can think of.  I love to see what goes on behind the scenes.  Every little mundane detail is absolutely captivating.

I remember when DVDs first came out.  They all had some sort of blooper real or a behind the scenes how-we-did-it sort of film.  I used to watch those first.  Director’s commentary is even better.  If some of the cast and crew were on it then even better.

I used to read and collect comics.  I wanted to be a comic book artist as a kid.  That dream quickly died.  I’m not good enough for one thing, but I absolutely dread story telling.  I have no interest in telling the story of any number of fake characters.  I’m only interested in the process that lead up to the product.  I want to know what kind of paper, pencils, pens and inks the artists use.  I want to know why.  I want to know where I can buy those things.

Over the years I’ve asked dozens of people, craftsmen, artists, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, carpenters, sculptors, and many others, about their technique, about their tools, how and why they do things and why they do them that way.  Many have been very giving with the knowledge they possess, and all of those who have been generous have been very patient with me.  A few have been very secretive and protective of what they know.  Why?  I honestly don’t know.  I asked one craftsman, a guy who retips fountain pen nibs, if he would be willing to share photos of his shop so we could sort of enjoy a behind the scenes view of his place and what he does.  I thought it would be awesome to see where the master does his work.  Sort of like getting to see Leonardo at work, doodling away in a sketchbook, drawing up plans for fanciful inventions and flying contraptions.  Instead of a nice comment and a group of photos, or a nice comment telling me sorry no, that he prefers not to, he came at me with this:

“Can I see what you do for a living, so I can copy it, and make money too :-)?”

Really?  That’s the kind of response I get from one of the best nib craftsmen on the planet?

Well of course I replied by showing him a video of me in a classroom teaching a bunch of wild little kids an art lesson.  Something about line and silhouettes.  It was fun.  You can see it in the youtube channel below.

So with that in mind, here are some pics of my shop and links to my youtube channel where you can see a load of videos on making pens and a little nib grinding and adjustment.  Anything I can do to help in any way.  Just ask if you have any questions.  My knowledge isn’t secret, “holy”, or private and I will share freely.

YouTube Channel

Pics from the shop tonight.

Pen Making Funk

Every now and then I have a day where I’d rather just lay around or watch TV (which I’m not that fond of) than go in the shop or even stand up.  Not depressed or mopey, just physically exhausted from… being lazy?  🙂  I dunno.  I have a pen on the lathe with epoxy cured and I think I’m going to go turn it now.  Have a good evening everybody.  😉