Stones River Woodworkers Club Murfreesboro, TN

Jay’s Ramblings

February 2016

     Project: Coaster - wooden disc 5” in diameter, uneven outer edge and turned true on one side with a 2 1/2” recess 1/4” deep on one side with a 3/16” hole through the center.


     Problem: With the blank mounted on my chucks #2 jaws expanded into the 2 1/2” recess the exact outer diameter of the cork insert must be marked on the blank and the depth of the recess gauged as the recess is turned.

     Solution: Cut a roughly 5” disc of 1/8” thick hardboard with a 3/16” hole in the center. Chuck a 1” square stick about 4” long into a chuck and drill a 3/16” hole in the center. Using a waxed 3/16” rod, align the stick to the center of the disc at 90 degrees and glue. After the glue sets, turn the disc to the cork diameter and the stick into a small knob with the tail stock live center in the hole. After parting off glue a 3/16” rod into the disc-knob so that it protrudes about 1/2” beyond the hardboard disc. Now insert the rod into the blank and scribe a pencil line around the blank. As you turn the recess, the thickness of the disc will be used to determine the depth of the recess.

     Recently, Doug Pelren handed me a plastic bag with some small pieces of wood that he said was “Smoke”. I had never heard of it so I looked on the Internet and found out very little. Apparently it is a native ornamental bush that if pruned carefully over a long time period you get a “Smoke Tree”. I didn’t find much about woodworkers doing anything with “Smoke” wood except the usual people that didn’t know anything ---but --- had an opinion that they wanted the world to read about.

     The wood Doug gave me was small and probably came from a bush, it was dry and the wood itself was yellow, like a poor cousin to Osage orange and supposedly is similar in weather resistance. It is course grained and chips badly when using scrapers on it while turning but has tight growth rings. Because a lot of it was small in diameter and curved, I had to cut it into short pieces as straight as was usable, mount it between centers and turn a tendon on one end. My smallest chuck can’t grip a tendon smaller than 1 inch so on the small stuff I turned a tendon slightly smaller than 1/2” to fit in my Jacob’s chuck so I could drill a 7 mm hole through it to make a pen blank. I managed to make 5 stylus pens except while assembling them, I dropped a threaded plug that goes in the top that the stylus screws into while holding the clip, so I went through my spare pen parts and was able to mount a clip the old conventional way. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find the missing part when I sweep out the garage - or not!!

     The “Smoke” wood makes nice pens and I made a handle for a short Pig Tail meat flipper.  For contrast, I made 2 more handles out of Yew and Honey Locus. I’ve been making wine glass stems but the “Smoke” isn’t big enough to make a 3” base so I have to stick to small things. ‘Smoke’ wood may be somewhat toxic as I find the dust makes me cough a lot, so don’t make tea out of the leaves.


     I’m still in the process of turning wooden stems for some Libby wine glasses. A while back I purchased some turning wood from Craft Supplies,  (2) Pieces of Osage Orange 3” x 3” x 12”, (2) pieces of Honey Locus in the same size and a piece of 2” x 2” x 12” Honey Locus. I turned 4 stems of Osage Orange and 4 stems of Honey Locus from, using 1 each of my purchased 3” x 3” wood and a Pig Tail meat flipper handle from the 2” x 2” Honey Locus. The second piece of 3” x 3” Honey Locus had a couple of cracks running the full length that CA glue couldn’t keep together and when I tried to turn a stem, the cracks prevailed and the stem base blew up. I grabbed some Persimmon, Cedar and Walnut that had been drying in the attic for over a year but the Persimmon showed many cracks when turned into a cylinder. The walnut yielded two stems and the cedar yielded one but CA glue was involved. I’ve turned about 20 stems and feel that I’m good on wine glasses for a while. I’ll call Craft Supplies and tell them about the cracked wood.

     Over the weekend, I worked in the garage and worked mainly with “Yew” and “Smoke” wood. I turned a Vertex click pen out of Yew and handles for letter openers out of both woods in order to highlight the differences in the woods. I bought some corn cob holders from Penn State and turned a pair of handles out of Smoke wood but screwed up and drilled the hole all the way through my turning blank so when I parted the first knob off I had a hole out the back of the handle so I plugged the holes with a Mesquite plug. Now my handles are made out of Mesquite and Smoke wood. Get It!!!

That’s it for this time,