New Kit Released
One of the latest releases from Woodcraft is a handy device that combines two office essentials into one tool. A standard Wall Street II style writing pen, a nice hefty feel at a reasonable price, with an electronic stylus for use on all touch screen devices.
The making of this device is exactly like making any pen, so nothing new there. The only kink is that you can’t put pressure on the stylus itself during assembly, so you have to use a press block (a piece of scrap wood with a hole drilled in it to protect the stylus) or use a press bushing you might have from other manufacturers stylus kits.
I tried out a variety of materials on this run, not duplicating anything, although some of them have been used before. The segmented materials are similar in nature although they are in fact manufactured differently. Those materials have been written about before. I also used another of the stabilized box elder burl blanks, in this case the purple one, which I have also written about before. What was new was the stabilized quilted maple, the bluish one and the green and black which is made from, believe it or not, sunflower shells crushed together at enormously high pressure to create a solid material. It is the latest thing in eco-recycling. So that means two new materials that I haven’t commented on before.
Stablized Quilted Maple
I’ll take the stabilized quilted poplar first. Honestly, I hated it. It felt like I was working acrylic, not anything remotely natural or wooden. It shaved almost exactly like an acrylic, in other words with difficulty, it smelled like acrylic, and in the end I think it looks acrylic and “fake” as well. I don’t know for certain why polar needs to be stabilized since I have used quilted poplar before in its natural state for both pens and bowls with no trouble at all. Perhaps the “stabilization” is really just a way to jazz up a wood that is generally pretty colorless and impervious to most attempts at coloration. Whatever, I have few of these blanks on hand so I guess I’ll have to use them eventually, but it won’t be in a hurry. That will teach me to order more than one of something I haven’t tried out before!
The compressed sunflower seed blank cut and worked really easily and the only thing I didn’t like about it was the smell! It isn’t really terrible, but it is, well, odd, not exactly like sunflower seeds, but certainly you get the fact that it isn’t wood. I was surprised it held together as well as it did, given what it is, but it was a successful material. I’m not sure that it adds a great deal to a project other than the oddity factor of its composition and similar color schemes, of which the green is only one of several available, are available elsewhere. Try for the novelty of it if you want but I think you can do better with more traditional materials.
The Finish and the End
All the pieces were finished with 5 coats of a cyanoacrylate compound make for pen finishing, which leaves a durable high-gloss sheen. It is a bit of a pain, requiring MANY steps of sanding and polishing to make it really work, but when it works it really shines. I also mastered using tiny pieces of waxed paper punched with a hole punch to protect my bushings from the glue and to prevent having the bushings be a permanent part of the pen blank which would render everything useless!
All told it was a successful day with five items completed and written about. I will be turning my attention to other things soon, including with any luck a bottle stopper made from stabilized redwood burl as well as experimenting with a prime piece of sapele wood from Brazil! Stay tuned!