Bubinga Project

Since I had three fairly large Bubinga platter blanks from the great guys at Got Wood? in South Carolina I used that as a springboard to turn all of the Bubinga I had on hand, not including pen blanks.  I did a similar project with Padauk.  I made six additional bowls and two pens.  I know, I said I didn’t use all the pen blanks, and I didn’t, but sometimes the best thing to do with a piece of material is to turn it into pen blanks.

Six Bubinga Bowls and Two Bubinga Pens

The two bowls on the upper left were from the same piece of lumber which my Dad and I bought practically next door to my sister’s house in Chico, California at Hughes Hardwoods.  The pieces turned fine but they are just not as wildly beautiful as the pieces sold specifically as turning blanks.  Compared to most any other blank these timber blanks are incredible but the range of Bubinga goes so far toward the amazing that it is easy to get overlooked in the crowd.

I don’t know for certain where the other blanks came from but they all turned out quite nice and showed a good deal of figure which isn’t always to see in photographs.

The making of the bowls was simple and straightforward.  All cuts were made using the Easy Wood Tool system.  Forward chucking was in a Nova Chuck with Cole Jaws, while reverse chucking was done using the Big Easy Jaws from Easy Wood Tools on the larger three pieces and with Cole Jaws in a Nova Chuck for the smaller pieces.  Sanding was with Gold and Green Wave sanding discs from Packard Woodworks.  Final finish is Shellawax.

The real story here is about the pens, both of which are Atlas Ballpoint from Woodcraft.  To be honest, there were supposed to be six pens, three Atlas and three Panache, the later being from Craft Supplies USA.  oh, and there was a funny story with a bowl too. So, what happened?

The bowl is the shorter of the stories.  I thought I had 12 additional pieces of Bubinga, one I made into pen blanks, leaving 11, so why do I only have 10 total pieces?  I was cutting round that last three of the, I thought, Bubinga bowl blanks and on the last one the saw dust was bright yellow.  What?  Bubinga isn’t yellow but it’s sapwood can be yellowish.  Perhaps I just had a lot of sapwood.  Now, I know a lot of turners don’t like sapwood but I really enjoy the contrast sharply different sap and heartwoods.  When I drilled it for the face plate it was all yellow dust, so perhaps this piece was all sapwood?  It was labelled Bubinga after all.  Finally, when I turned it down, I realized that the pale reddish pink exterior had to be combination of wax and dust because underneath what looked Bubinga-like on the surface was clearly Yellowheart.  I thought it was funny that the blank was labelled Bubinga being in fact Yellowheart and I don’t know if someone sold it to me as Bubinga or if I just guessed when organizing my woods after moving to California.  And, I happen to really like Yellowheart so I was fine with the misidentification no matter how it came about.

Yellowheart Bowl and Mystery Pen

The last block of Bubinga that I was going to turn into a very small dish was only about 4″ x 1.75.  It was a cut off from a piece of lumber.  The more I thought about it the more it didn’t make as much sense to make such a small dish and I have lots of pen kits to use up, so I thought that was the way to go.  I split the block in half and then into thirds, so I had six pieces.  Problem was that they were pretty short and for a lot of pen designs not thick enough either.  I decided I would make three Atlas pens from Woodcraft and three Panache from Craft Supplies USA.  The sizing on the Atlas pens worked out just fine but I got the sizing all wrong on the Panache.  I made sure that the blanks were large enough to accommodate the drills but failed to considered the final size as determined by the bushings.  By the time I discovered this error, the blanks were already drilled and glued up and couldn’t be salvaged.  As it turned out I had one more Atlas pen kit than I had wood for so I took what most closely resembled Bubinga from my extensive stock of pen blanks but having turned it I am pretty sure it isn’t Bubinga and I have no idea what it might be instead.  When I moved to California in 2017 my formerly very clearly labelled and organized pen blanks didn’t stay labelled and organized so I have a large box of unknowns.