Wood Turning

Here’s a great gift idea for your Christmas turning. ¬†This is everything you’ll need to turn a one of a kind ice cream scoop. Make it as fancy or as simple as you like ūüôā

Brass Ice Cream Scoop Hardware Kit
Make your own deluxe dessert disher. Get creative with a custom-turned wooden handle, then attach this solid-brass scoop and ferrule for the perfect finishing touch. Instructions for turning a handle and assembling the ice cream scoop are included.

Brass Ice Cream Scoop Hardware Kit

Brass Ice Cream Scoop Hardware Kit

In addition to this kit you will need the following:

Wood: Approximately 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ x 6″ of a strong hardwood such as maple, cherry, walnut, oak, or yellow birch. Of the imported hardwoods bubinga, purpleheart, gongola alves and cocobolo make wonderful handles.

Ice Cream Scoop Wood Turning

Ice Cream Scoop Wood Turning

If you’d like to turn your handle out of highly figured big leaf maple, you can purchase the blanks directly from Christina at Vedder Mountain Hardwoods for $3.00 each by leaving a comment on this post.

Turning tools: Spindle roughing gouge, spindle/detail gouge, parting tool and optional skew chisel. A pair of outside calipers with rounded edges on the measuring points is helpful in fitting the ferrule.

Drill bit: 3/8″ brad point or regular twist bit.

Chucks: Depending on how you will hold and drill the piece (see below),you may need a scroll-type chuck for your headstock and a Jacobs-style chuck for your tailstock.

Glue and finish: The tang can be glued into the handle with epoxy or a thick type of CA (‚Äúsuper glue‚ÄĚ). The finish could be with a drying type of oil such as pure tung oil or boiled linseed oil. An oil and varnish blend such as Rockler‚Äôs Nordic Oil also looks great. For a film type of finish (for extra protection against moisture and a higher sheen finish) try a wiping type polyurethane or a gel varnish.



1) Submitted by Phil, from Newman Lake, WA on 11/24/2008

Customer Rating: 
Initial order was for a dozen…handles turned from various exotic woods (Christmas gifts) will soon order more…good product.

2) Submitted by Steve, from Fort Wayne, IN on 11/20/2008

Customer Rating: 
First class all the way! These are solid and blemish-free, and the instructions were concise and easy to follow. I’ve already ordered more.

3) Submitted by Chuck Daggs, from Mesa, AZ on 11/11/2008

Customer Rating: 
Solid, defect free brass casting, with highly polished scoop and ring. Instructions useful and complete. Expect a lot of happy recipients this Christmas.

4) Submitted by Bill Nash, from Kingsport, TN on 11/10/2008

Customer Rating: 
I turned handles for the Brass Ice Cream Scoops. They turned out great and will make excellent Christmas gifts.

5) Submitted by N, from Springfield, VA on 9/21/2008

Customer Rating: 
Top quality and great instructions.

This is a gift that is destined to become an heirloom and will be loved by everyone! Enjoy ūüôā


Spalted maple has to be one of the most beautiful woods available for both wood turners and luthiers. ¬†It’s unique characteristics make each piece a treasure. ¬† ¬†


Spalted Maple Guitar Top Bookmatched Set

Spalted Maple Guitar Top Bookmatched Set


What is spalted maple?

Spalted maple is created when the wood is infected by a variety of fungi.  Each unique fungus creates a different effect in the wood during the natural process of decay. If the wood is caught and processed at the right time, before it gets soft and punky, it can create a stunning mosaic of light and dark areas most often bordered by dark lines (inklines).  This provides a striking visual contrast.

Is spalted maple foodsafe?

After researching this topic in great length… this is what I found. ¬†If the wood is kiln dried, the fungi will go dormant or die. ¬†As long as you apply a durable foodsafe finish to your turning, the wood should be foodsafe. However, after having said that, I could not find any research with a solid conclusion either way. ¬†I also could not find any reported illnesses from using spalted wood in this manner. The only cautions I could find regarding the use of spalted wood were workshop related. The dust from the spalted maple and the warm damp climate of your lungs make for an ideal breeding ground for the fungi to come back to life. ¬†When you’re cutting any kind of spalted wood, please protect your lungs and use a respirator mask for your own health.

Here’s a list of some foodsafe finishes you may want to try:

Pure Tung Oil.  Tung oil comes from the nut of the china wood tree. Requires many coats and provides good water-resistance. 

Walnut Oil. ¬†This oil is pressed from the nuts of the walnut tree and is sold as a salad oil in health food stores or grocery stores. ¬†It’s easy to apply but requires frequent reapplication.

Mineral Oil.¬†¬†This oil is available for sale as a laxative in drug stores and as a wood finish in hardware stores. It’s simple to apply but requires frequent reapplication and is not very water resistant.

Beeswax. This wax can be mixed with an oil like lavender to create a pleasant smelling finish. This smells great but is not very water resistant.

Carnauba Wax.¬†This wax is¬†from the Brazilian palm tree. It’s a harder wax than beeswax and a little more water resistant.

Shellac.  Harvested in India, shellac is a secretion from the lac bug. The most waterresistant variety is super blond shellac in flake form and can be found in most hardware stores and woodworking catalogs.

Raw Linseed Oil. This oil is pressed from flax seeds. It has a very long curing time and low water resistance. Linseed oil also requires frequent reapplication.


Spalted Maple Bookmatched Set

Spalted Maple Bookmatched Set


Quality spalted maple can be very expensive and is getting harder and harder to find.  Vedder Mountain Hardwoods has a good supply of both turning blocks in spalted curly maple and spalted maple guitar tops available. You can purchase direct through their website or from their eBay store.

This is a very good instructional video on turning a natural edge or natural top olive wood bowl from green wood. It really simplifies natural edge turning and makes me want to get out to the shop and make some sawdust. 

¬†I hope you enjoy it ūüôā

pentacrylgallonsmallSending your wood out to be stabilized can become very expensive. Here’s a few methods for stabilizing your wood that you can do from home to save yourself a few bucks and the inconvenience of shipping your wood out to be stabilized. These methods are perfect for sealing your roughed out green turnings to prevent them from cracking or stabilizing those beautiful spalted pen blanks to keep them from falling apart when you turn them.

For stabilizing green wood Pentacryl is a great product for helping prevent your wood from cracking during the drying process. Pentacryl was originally developed to preserve a number of ancient American Indian Artifacts. A number of Indian weir stakes were found in a lake by the Maine State Museum in Augusta. Some of the stakes were removed and found to be from 3000 to 6000 years old. Had the artifacts been left to dry out without being treated with a wood stabilizer, they would have cracked and deteriorated further, just as green wood cracks if is not sealed or treated.How pentacryl works. The siliconized polymers in Pentacryl penetrate into the wood , coating the cells and keeping them from collapsing.¬†Pentracryl is envionmentally friendly, will not discolour your wood and cleans up easily with soap and water or mineral spirits. After it’s dry, you can finish your wood with any type of finish you like.

You can apply Pentacryl in two different ways. Larger pieces of green wood can be treated by brushing on the solution until the piece is completely saturated. While smaller pieces of green wood can be soaked in a container of solution… Be sure to save the remaining solution for another project. After applying the solution you will need to slowly dry the wood. ¬†The ideal conditions for drying your wood is in a cool, damp room at 60 degrees F with 60 percent relative humidity. If you don’t have an appropriate room (which most of us don’t) for drying your wood, you can use a large cardboard box (like an appliance box). Set the box over the wood and this will slow the drying. The idea is to let the moisture escape slowly. Drying time is about 3 months per inch of slab thickness.

When turning green wood, after you’ve rough turned your project, use the brush-on method of applying the Pentacryl. This will help¬†avoid the risk of cracks in your project caused by having the wood dry out to quickly.¬†Keep in mind that this will change the density of the wood and it will feel slightly heavier once the pentacryl has dried.

Pentacryl is Available is 3 different sizes
5 Gallon Pentacryl
1 Gallon Pentacryl
32 oz Pentacryl


For stabilizing spalted or punky wood, a good product to try is Polycryl.



Manufactered by Preservation Solutions, Polycryl is water soluble and works best when the wood is wet. Just soak the pen blanks in the solution for the recommended time and then let them dry. After using Polycryl you must use a finish on your wood to seal it. Also note that because this is a water soluble product, you should not use it for outdoor projects.


Polycryl is also available in 3 sizes.
5 Gallon Polycryl
1 Gallon Polycryl
32 oz Polycryl

If you have another methods of stabiizing wood that you’d like to share with your fellow woodworkers, please feel free to leave a comment.

The Tormek wet stone sharpening system is known for it’s high quality and the Tormek TNT-708 woodturners kit is no exception.

This kit includes a 120 minute DVD by American turner Jeff Farris. This interactive guide is an integral part of the TNT-708 package. Each chapter features a detailed demonstration of how to get the best use of your sharpening system and covers a wide range of tools. It also comes with an instructional handbook by Torgny Jansson which is clearly illustrated and easy to follow.

Also included in this kit is a Turning Tool Setter for setting the geometries on gouges and skews. The tool setter makes sharpening your tools easier than ever. A Gouge and Cutter Jig for sharpening fingernail shaped bowl gouges and spindle gouges. The Profile Honing Wheel for honing the flutes. A Tool Rest with Torlock for sharpening scrapers, hollowing tools and thin parting tools. The Multi Jig for sharpening skews of any shape. And last but not least, a Machine Cover and Handy Box to store all the pieces.

Sharpening your tools with the Tormek TNT-708 tool sharpening system has never been easier. This video gives you a complete overview of the tool sharpening system.  

Wood turning is so much more enjoyable when you have sharp tools ūüôā Look for new and used Tormek Sharpening tools at Wood Turner Supply

Have you ever decided to turn that beautiful piece of wood you’ve been saving for a special project only to discover it has checked and cracked. ¬†Maybe you forgot to end seal it before putting it away to dry? ¬†I’m sure every wood turner has experienced this at some point during their turning careers.¬†

This is the unfortunate way many new turners learn about the importance of sealing green wood to prevent end grain checking. There are several different methods of doing this.  

One of our favorite methods for end sealing wood turning blanks is to use hot paraffin wax. It is easy to remove when you need to use the wood and it’s inexpensive compared to some other methods. For smaller quantities of wood you can use food safe paraffin wax. It’s available at most grocery stores in the canning section for just a few dollars. You can use a coleman or camping stove if you have one available and a pot wide enough to fit the end grain portion of your wood. Melt the wax completely before you dip your wood in it. If the wax is not hot enough it won’t penetrate the wood and will just peel off. ¬†It’s also a good idea to melt the wax outdoors, as it has quite a strong odour and can smoke a little. ¬†NEVER cover the pot while you’re melting the wax as this can and will cause the fumes to collect in the pot and combust, causing a fire! ¬†

For larger pieces of wood that won’t fit in your parrafin wax pot, try using a wax emulsion sealer, such as Anchorseal from UC Coatings. ¬†Some wood supply stores carry their own brand of sealer which is usually similar to Anchoseal. ¬†It’s easy to apply with either a paint brush or a small paint roller and washes up with soap and water. ¬†We like to use two coats of anchorseal before we kiln dry our wood as it offers a little bit of extra protection… just remember that if you’re going to use two coats, you need to let the first coat dry completely before applying the second coat.

If you can’t find a wood supply store that carries wood sealer, UC Coating will delivery it to your door. ¬†They have operations in Canada and the USA. ¬†You can check them out online at www.uccoatings.com.

Make sure to seal your wood as soon as possible after cutting. If you see any visible checks…cut them off before you apply the sealer. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but believe me it will save you a lot of grief (and a lot of wood) in the end.¬†

Yet another way to seal your wood is to paint the ends with regular household paint. This method is not food safe, but is known to work well for end sealing logs. ¬†It’s both cost effective and convenient, as most people already have a can of paint in their garage.

If you know of any other wood sealing methods that are not posted here, please leave a comment so we can share them with our other readers.

Pen turning can be a very satisfying hobby, as well as a very rewarding way to earn some extra cash over the holidays. It takes very little time, once you know the basics. ¬†They also make great gifts for anyone on your list… after all, do you know of anyone that doesn’t use a pen? ūüôā
pensPens pictured are by Running Dog Woodworking

Haven’t turned a pen yet, but want to give it a try? ¬†Here’s a list of the basic tools and supplies you’ll need for pen turning.

Pen Blanks Рhighly figured wood, birch burl and maple burl are my favorites, but you can also purchase acrylic ones that are quite nice. Highly figured maple and burl pen blanks are available at Vedder Mountain Hardwoods.  A pack of 20 western big leaf maple assorted figured, spalted and burl blanks sells for around $20 US.
figured maple pen blanks
Drill press and drill bit – the brad point bit or bullet drill bit will work well with most materials. You may want to make a jig to hold your pen blanks in place while drilling… this way you can drill several blanks at one time. ¬†Mike will quite often have 10 blanks drilled and glued, so they’re ready to turn when he has a few spare minutes to play on the lathe.¬†

Pen Kits – there are several different styles available, but the most common and inexpensive kit is the slimline. A good place to purchase your kits online is at www.woodturningz.com

Bushings – you’ll need bushings to match the pen kit you choose – each kit requires different size bushings.

Mandrel -you’ll also need a mandrel – make sure to get the correct MT for your lathe.

Glue is required to glue in the tubes after you’ve drilled the pen blanks – cyanoacrylate, epoxy and polyurethane glue all work very well.

Wood turning tools – Very few tools are required for turning pens. ¬†Each wood turner has his/her own preference. ¬†For turning straight barrel pens, some turners use 1/2″ skew, while others prefer to remove the bulk of the wood with a small shallow gouge. ¬†

Sand paper/abrasive Рwe use the foam backed paper for our pen and start with 80 grit and go up to 800 grit.  Other types are the micro mesh abrasives that range from 1800 grit to 12000 grit.

Finishes – we like the Crystal Coat friction polish…it shines to a high gloss and it’s easy to use. ¬†Other finishes that are commonly used are french polish, stick wax, paste wax, plastic polish and Mylands friction polish.

A great reference book for turning pens and pencils is TURNING PENS AND PENCILS by Kip Christensen and Rex Burningham.

I hope you’ll find this post informative and useful. ¬†If you see anything I may have missed or would like to add any other tips, your comments are appreciated.

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