Tasmania, with its unique geographical location and environment, produces some of the best cool climate timber species, along with speciality hardwood and softwood plantations. Tasmanian Blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon), a Wattle Species, is a perfect timber for fine furniture, and often comes with spectacular grain and features, grows in most conditions and is found in most places of Tasmania, and can grow to 50 metres in height in ideal conditions. Celery Top Pine (Phyllocladus Aspeniifolious), a Native Conifer, is a durable and tough timber, providing a hard wearing surface with a fine-grained appearance. Celery Top Pine mainly grows in the West of Tasmania, and some isolated areas on the East Coast of Tasmania where the climate is much dryer. Celery Top grows to an average height between 15 and 40 metres, with the bark being a reddish brown grey colour with a knobbly surface. The leathery foliage has a distinctive celery like appearance, lending this species it's name. Celery Top is a pale white to yellow colour when cut turning a golden hue once dried. The oldest known Celery Tops are around 800 years old. Leatherwood (Eucrphia Lucida), can be found in the wetter valleys and rugged western regions with high rainfall (more than 250ml). Leatherwood can grow to 30 metres high, with most found being closer to 15 metres, and can live for about 250 years, alongside Sassafras, Blackwood and Myrtles, and can be found growing as an under storey species in the Tall Eucalypt Forest of Tasmania. It is the same tree that Bee's produce Leatherwood Honey, and used often used for furniture, pulpwood, which can be easily bent, and produces beautiful Burl Wood, which is rare and highly prized, and has also been known to produce excellent Fiddle-back grain. Tasmanian Myrtle (Nothofagus Cunninghamii), is a striking timber that is often used as a veneer or finishing timber, or used in high-quality furniture, or skirting boards in homes, and flourishes in the cool temperate rain forests of Tasmania, and can be found growing in other area throughout Tasmania, being found more frequently in the west and north west area's. Myrtle is a slow growing species reaching a maximum of about 30 or 40 metres, living for about 500 years. Tasmanian Myrtle is not related, nor resembles the European Myrtle. Sassafras (Atherospema Moschatum), comes in two major groups, the Golden and Blackheart, with Blackheart Sassafras being the more popular amongst artisans. Sassafras is an under story evergreen tree usually found throughout the cooler temperate rain forests of Tasmania, and generally grow to 45 metre's and 1 metre in diameter in ideal conditions, and can live for around 200 years. Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos Franklinii), a Rare Timber, the prince, and most sought out of the Tasmanian Timbers. From it's richness of its golden hues to it's highly prized figured grain, it is easy to work with, making it the world's most desirably used timber for furniture and crafts. It is an ancient conifer, that has been dated at over two thousands years of age making the species one of the oldest living trees on the planet. Huon Pine trees still growing in Tasmanian rain forests could possibly be older than 5 thousands years of age. Huon Pine can grow to 20 or 30 metres in height, though it is believed some may reach more than 40 metres. Huon Pine only grows in the rain forests of Tasmania, has no sap, with an essential oil (Methyl Eugenol) keeps the wood durable for hundreds of years, and makes the tree highly resistant to fungal diseases and insect attack, which also lends the timber it's colour and aroma. Native Musk (Olearia Argophylla), is an under story species, found in rain forests and wetter regions of Tasmania, typically along river banks, and grows to a height between 5 and 15 metres. It has a musk scent, lending to it's name. The produced is a soft creamy brown, with the most prized timber coming from the base of the tree, with the grain from the base area usually being twisted and motley, akin to being Burl like. It is also a difficult timber to season without it checking or splitting. Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus Globulus), the Floral Emblem of Tasmania, the Blue Gum gets its name from the blue-grey colouring of it's foliage when young. The Blue Gum has the potential to reach 70 metres in height, but is generally found around 15 - 25 metres. Ti Tree (Leptospermum Lanigerum), quite a large species of tree, there are about 80 known species of Ti Tree in Australia. Usually a shrub that grows to 3 metres, and favours a damp environment, often forming thickets with small diameter stems, though it can grow to a height of around 18 metres in Tasmania as a tall, thin tree. Silver Wattle (Acacia Dealbata), a Wattle Species, that can grow to over 30 metres, and is widely found throughout Tasmania. Growing quite rapidly, it is a major under storey species. The timber varies in colour from soft pink to light brown with lighter colour highlights. Black Wattle (Acacia Meansii), a Wattle Species, is related to Silver Wattle, but requires less moisture than Silver Wattle, but can often be found growing together, although Black Wattle does not like to grow in very wet area's. King Billy Pine (Athrotaxis Selaginoides), a Rare Timber, is an endemic softwood species to Tasmania. Growing to between 25 and 30 metres, it is a medium sized slow growing tree with a fibrous bark and is furrowed, found in the wetter and mountainous areas of Tasmania.
The wood in your newly turned item has taken many decades to grow and mature. With special care it can be enjoyed for decades to come! Nothing lasts forever though, but wood is tough stuff. Proper wood care will keep things looking good indefinitely, and they can improve with age. Wooden kitchenware has been used for centuries, and people value antique bowls and wood items for their aged appearance. Something to note, is that wood is never fully cured, only stabilised to the environment it's in. For e.g. if you live in a humid area, the timber will only lose moisture relative to that environment. If you move to a drier area, you may notice that some of your wood items dry out, and possibly crack, esp. if the move is sudden. So it's wise to remember that moving to another area where the humidity is different, to allow your wood items to acclimate by keeping them in a dry, cool spot for a few weeks, to allow the wood to take on, or lose moisture slowly, reducing the chances of your wonderful pieces from moving too much and possibly developing cracks and changing shape. Your newly turned product may have been finished with a number of different finishes, depending on it's intended use. OB Shine Juice (mainly Shellac and Boiled Linseed Oil), for items that may be handled, but mainly used as a talking piece. Shellac, for items that are mainly for display, and that hardly get handled. Shellac, while it has a wonderfully smooth finish, can be fragile and easily damaged, especially if alcohol based liquids are spilled or used on the item. We use a modified French Polish technique, where we use Sheep Wool rather than cotton for the Pad. The Lanolin in the Sheep Wool helps with lubrication along with the Boiled Linseed Oil which also helps with the lustre, bringing out the Chattoyance in the grain of most items. Shellac with a Spray-on Clear Lacquer top coat, is usually used for items that will be handled a lot, and may come in contact with food. The Shellac process we use is explained above. The lacquer is used to provide as much as Lacquer can, a water proof finish. We most commonly use this type of finish on the Timber Pens and other items that would be handled often. To wash your wood item, simply clean it with mild dish washing soap and and warm water. Rinse and dry immediately. Never submerge your wooden item in water. Do not put your wood item in the dishwasher. Do not put it in the microwave or oven. Do no refrigerate. Do not leave in direct sunlight, as this can cause the timber to change colour over time due to the UV in sunlight. Forcefully stacking wooden items and in particular bowls could result in them cracking, warping or chipping. Take care with over-ripened fruit as it will create permanent stains over time. I find using a paper towel or wax paper can help as a barrier, and prevent staining. Clean your item when your finished using it for food, leaving it without cleaning it will more than likely damage the finish, and possibly the timber the finish is protecting.
I've been seeing a lot of people asking and offering DIY (Do It Yourself) recipe's for common Timber Finishes. These can vary slightly from country to country and even be regional depending on the ingredients available. I am not trying to take work or product away from those that sell finishes, on the contrary, if you would prefer to purchase a particular finish and support those making large quantities I wholeheartedly endorse you doing that and in turn support someones business and family. Before I start listing popular finishes, let me first endorse and link those businesses and brands that you can try out if you don't wish to go to the effort of making your own: Hampshire Sheen by Martin Sabban-Smith Yorkshire Grit Ack's Wood Paste Just Shellac. What is Shellac? How do I use Shellac? Shellac has to be one of the, if not the most versatile of finishes, even when used as a Sealer/Sanding Sealer. Shellac is processed from the hard Resin produced by the Lac Bug that it uses to lay it's young in, and comes in Waxed (Natural), DeWaxed (slightly processed to remove the Wax). To make up the product we use for finishing, require's an alcohol based liquid, such as Methylated Spirits (Metho), also known as Denatured Alcohol (DA), which is used to dissolve the Shellac Flakes into the desired quantities, known as Pound Cuts. 1 Pound Cut = 12gramms of Shellac Flakes to 100ml of Metho. 2 Pound Cut = 24gramms of Shellac Flakes to 100ml of Metho. I think you see where this is going. Generally to apply Shellac myself, I sand up to 240 grit, then clean out the sanding dust using Straight Metho (this also raises the knapp of the timber). Then I apply a 1 Pound Cut of Shellac and rub it into the Timber to try and force the Shellac down into the grain. I let that dry off for a few minutes, then continue sanding up to a higher grit, depending on the look of finish I'm after, obviously for a super shiny or French Polish look I'll sand past 600 grit, cleaning the sanding dust off between grits using compressed air.Once I'm ready to start applying the Finish, I use a modified French Polish technique.Using some white cotton (old t-shirt's work well), and balled up cotton wool (I use Sheep's Wool from our Sheep as it contains Lanolin and helps with lubrication during application and is the traditional way to do French Polish). The cotton wool ball is placed into the centre of a square of material about 100mm x 100mm square with the corners pulled up to the centre, held with the fingers, then twisted a couple of times to make a pad. You can either charge the cotton wool before folding up the corners to make the pad, or apply the Shellac to the outside, allowing the Shellac to soak into the wool inside which acts as a reservoir for the Shellac.Boiled Linseed Oil can also be used to help lubricate the pad as you apply the finish to the timber by dabbing the pad into a small container holding the Boiled Linseed Oil.When applying the Shellac, I like to use small circular spirals, working the Shellac into the Timber, and moving across the surface of the Timber. It's best to do many light coat's, rather than less heavy coat's, and slowly building up the layers of the Shellac, which helps gives more depth and shine to the finish. Keep applying more layers, changing direction of your circles to help with coverage. That's pretty much all there is to applying a Shellac Finish, well, at least how I do it. I don't do the full French Polish with using Pumice, as I've found for Wood Turned Items it isn't necessary.I've also had success with the above technique using OB Shine Juice (explanation on how to make it below), and using the pad to apply the finish. How do I make OB Shine Juice? This recipe I got from one of Capt'Eddie Casteline's YouTube videos. It's pretty simple, made up of 1/3 equal quantities of 2 Pound Cut Shellac, Methylated Spirits/Denatured Alcohol, and Boiled Linseed Oil. Simply wiped on, and rubbed in, it gives a good shine, and durable finish that can be enhanced easily by adding a fresh coat. How do I make Frenchy's Shine Juice? This recipe was taken from the WoodChuckers Facebook Group by Allen Mayles. I'm pretty sure I've also heard Kim Tippin on YouTube mention a similar recipe. Frenchy's shine juice. 10%BLO, 30% Metho/Denatured Alcohol, and 60%shellac. Faster build up. How do I make Yorkshire Grit? This recipe was taken from the Wood Turning Basics Facebook Group by Butters von Buttersworth. For anyone that needs it, here is my recipe and process for making York Shire Grit. By volume 1 part mineral oil. 1 part bees wax, 1 part diatomaceous earth (food grade). Measurements do NOT need to be exact. Melt the bees wax in the mineral oil stirring till it’s all dissolved. Then add the diatomaceous earth (DME) stirring constantly till it firms up. If you don’t, the DME will settle. A few tips that I have picked up. An old large tin can works great for making and storing this stuff. I bring about 2” if water to a boil on the stove. I pour the mineral oil into the tin can and set the can in the boiling water to make a double boiler. I then add the wax and allow it to melt, stirring occasionally. When it’s melted, add the DME. Then I get a big bowl of ice water and move the tin can from the boiler to the bowl of ice water. This greatly accelerates the cooling process. But, you still need to stir it till it’s firmed up. Once it’s hardened up, you’re ready to rock. Super cheap and takes about 45 minutes total to make. No guarantee that the above is correct, use at your own discretion. How do I use CA Glue as a Finish? Usually used for Pens and smaller items, CA (Cyano Acryolate) Glue produces a durable plastic finish. By simply sanding the project to be finished to the desired grit, several coats of CA Glue can be wiped on and left to harden, or an activator used to reduce time between coats. Then after several coats, most turners then use micro-mesh sanding pads to produce a high-gloss finish. Alternatively, turners may want a satin look, and here's how I achieve that look. Sand the project up to 240grit, then use Methylated Spirits/Denatured Alcohol to clean up dust and raise the Knapp (fibre's of the timber). Then using a piece of paper towel place a few drops of Thin CA on the towel, and a few drops of BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) directly on the CA, then with the project spinning at a slow speed rub the CA/BLO into the timber until it starts to become tacky from the friction. I then allow that to harden without using activator (I Usually leave between 15-20 minutes, good excuse to make a cup of tea). What this does is gets the CA into and beside the grain deeper into the pores, and helps with stability, and also brings out more of the Chatoyance in the timber. I then continue sanding, cleaning the dust between each grit, up to at least 600 grit which I find adequate for most timbers. I then start applying the Medium CA finish, I don't use activator myself, but there is no reason not too if you wish to speed the process up. I usually apply between 5-10 coats depending on how things look, then use micro-mesh to remove any scratch's or unusual unevenness that can occur when apply the finish. What do I do when I run out of Activator, or the lack of it? There are various alternatives to using Activator, which I'll list below so if you find yourself without it, or can't acquire it and need to get that project done. Glen 20 - Can leave a cloudy look to a finish. Might ok if the glue isn't visible, obviously no good if using as a finish. Bi-Carb Soda - This has been used for decades esp. by model makers in the film industry as explained by Adam Savage, as not only does it accelerate the drying process, it also acts as filler making joints stronger. Adam also mentions using Bi-Carb Soda in his book "Every Tools a Hammer". I have also seen suggestions of dissolving Bi-Carb Soda in water and using it in a spray bottle as an accelerator. BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil) - Used directly, it's not as fast as actual accelerator, but it does work. RC Nitro Fuel (without Caster Oil) - I'd like more information about this one. How do I use Mineral Oil as a finish? Quite often on various Woodworking and Turning Groups on Facebook, or Forums, the question of using Food Safe Finishes for Timber is asked, and most often the answers given is to use Mineral Oil. Personally, I don't like to use Mineral Oil as a Food Safe Finish, and there is a lot of contention with most thinking towards Mineral Oil being Food Safe. So, what is Mineral Oil made from? Despite its name, mineral oil doesn’t actually contain anything healthy. Nor is it the slightest bit natural. Mineral Oil is made from Petroleum. The crude oil is processed to remove impurities – this is why food-grade mineral oil is clear and odourless. However, this doesn’t make it healthy or eco-friendly. Also, not all mineral oil is food-safe. Personally, I prefer not to risk it with my product finishes, that are likely to come into contact with food. There are a few issues with mineral oil you should be aware of before using it in the home. If you’re using it on food surfaces, you’re potentially ingesting small amounts of petroleum. One thing you can do to help protect your food if you use mineral oil is to apply a coat of beeswax over the mineral oil after it dries. Mineral oil that isn’t heavily refined will contain impurities, which can be harmful to your health. Even moderately refined mineral oils are classed as carcinogens and are not something you want in your body. You’ll have to reapply mineral oil regularly – it’s not a long-lasting wood product like oil finishing products that are designed for wood protection are. Mineral oil does have a few advantages: It’s relatively stable and won’t spoil when exposed to warm temperatures. When applied to wood, mineral oil leaves a clear finish, making it a practical choice when you want a natural look. Petroleum-based, highly refined mineral oil is considered to be non-toxic. Refined mineral oil won’t give off any foul odours. The majority, if not all of the above finishes are used on Wood Turning Projects, but this doesn't mean they can't be used on other types of Wood Working. I'll update and add more as time permits, or if you have suggestions or recipe's you would like to share, please comment, or contact us. Happy Finishing
This is an article describing my process of making Woodturned Pens to show what goes into making them. For this guide, I'll be using the Rollerball SN kit supplied by Timberbits. The process is pretty much the same for the majority of pens kits, the sizing and number of wood turned parts may change depending on the kit and pen style.After deciding on the pen kit to use, timber selection needs to take place. Sizing will again depend on the pen kit, but generally, you want to make sure that blanks are square and have some interesting figure. Figure 1, shows the timber I selected to make several pens in one session. Picture from the top, the Pen kits as they come packaged from the supplier. The timber from the top, Huon Pine, Macrocarpa, Chestnut Burl, and Tasmanian Myrtle. Also shown to the left are the bushings needed to mount these kits on the Mandrel that each pen will be mounted on to be turned.Also shown on the timber is the marking out I did for the lengths of the brass tubes that will be glued into the blanks once they are cut to size and drilled to accept the brass tubes supplied in the kits. Figure 1: After selecting some nice figured wood I lay out the sizes of the pen tubes. Figure 2 below shows the marked out timber before being cut into lengths. You will notice that each is numbered for each kit, "T" and "B" indicate top or bottom of the pen. And the short mark that is parallel to the length of the blank indicates the orientation to help orientate the blanks for lining up the grain. Figure 2: Close up details of the marked out blanks before being cut to length. Figure 3 shows how the short parallel mark helps to orientate the blanks for lining up the grain. Numbering also helps if the blanks get mixed up, so they can be sorted. Especially helpful when using the same timber species with similar colouring. Figure 3: The blanks cut to size. Figure 4 is a close up of the marking out, and the interesting grain in Huon Pine. Figure 4: Close up of the marking out. Figure 5 shows the marked centre for drilling so the brass tubes can be inserted. As you can see with the bottom blanks (Tasmanian Myrtle), the marks are purposely off-centre to avoid the split in the timber which would produce a not so nice pen. Figure 5: Before Drilling the blanks, mark and centre punch. Figure 6: All the blanks ready to be drilled. Figure 7: About to drill a pilot hole. Figure 8: About to drill out the brass tube size for the top or cap. Figure 9: About to drill out the bottom for the pen section of the kit. Figure 10 shows gathering the swarf and shavings comes in handy for fixing chip out, or can be used for other projects that have inlay designs. Figure 10: I like to keep and gather the swarf to grind into powder for filling gaps or other projects that have inlay. Figure 11: Making use of old pen kit packaging. Testing fitting the tubes before gluing in as in Figure 12 helps to avoid issues once the blanks are mounted on the mandrel. Figure 12: Making sure the tubes fit correctly, before gluing in. Roughing up the surface like in Figure 13 helps to the glue to key and adhere to the inside of the timber blank. Figure 13: Before gluing I like to rough up the surface to help adhering the brass to the timber. Figure 14: Cyano Acrylate (CA) glue that I use, this is medium thickness. Figure 15: I use the end of the larger drill bit as it's end is machined down, and the larger tube fits, making it easier to push the tube into the blank. Figure 16: Tube glued in. Figure 17: All tubes glued, then left overnight to allow the glue to fully cure. Figure 18: Pen Mill Cutter for removing timber down to the tubes to give the exact length of the pen. Figure 19: About to Mill and square up the timber to the brass tube. Figure 20: This is the result of Milling the blank down to the tube. Figure 21: Blanks for the first pen mounted with it's bushing that fit into the brass tube. Figure 22: Turned down to the bushings. Figure 23: First coat of CA Glue used as the finish. Figure 24: After several coats of CA Glue. Figure 25: After being water sanded. Figure 26: Pen parts before being assembled, showing the order of the parts. Figure 27: How I push the parts into the brass tube. Figure 28: Second part about to be pushed in. Figure 29: Orienting the lid part of the pen kit before pushing the next part in. Figure 30: Pushing the aligned part into the lid part of the pen. Figure 31: Pushing the clip part of the kit into the lid. Figure 32: About to insert the ink refill into the body of the pen. Figure 33: The finished pen.
Timber care is something that a lot of people neglect or forget about after they've purchased one of our Woodturned items so to help makes taking care of your bought item a little easier I thought I would put this little article together as a guide. Now, I am well aware that there are a lot of different ways to finish and protect timber, below is our way, that works for our products. Timber care doesn't have to be a long convoluted process, but there are things that we should, and shouldn't do, and that care will depend on a lot of different elements, such as sun exposure, the timber species, and even the finish that was used on the timber. Most timbers can be simply wiped with a damp, not soapy cloth to remove dust, much like dusting furniture. Keeping timber out of direct sunlight will help to reduce discolouring particularly bleaching and whitening, but some timber species will change over time regardless of the finish used. Timbers such as Purple Heart will continue to darken and become a deeper purple over time and faster if exposed to direct sunlight. If the timber is finished with a UV Inhibitor this will greatly reduce the discolouring time. Here are some finishes that you may come across on Woodturned items: Wax: We use mainly a Bee's Wax, Carnuba Wax, or combination of Bee's Wax and Boiled Linseed Oil. Most wax can be easily repaired if damaged, but most of all, it feels nice to handle. Martin Saban-Smith of Hampshire Sheen has a great article on why he uses and prefers a Wax finish. Maintaining a Wax Finish is done by simply wiping gently with a clean cloth to remove dust and grime. Using detergents or cleaning agents may remove the wax in some cases, leaving an undesirable result, and possibly leaving the timber exposed. In most cases, and as long as you know what wax to use the wax can be replaced and repolished to bring back the lustre of the coating. BLO (Boiled Linseed Oil): Linseed oil, extracted from flax seed, is one of the most useful natural oils. It makes for a great preservative of wood. It's used as an ingredient in paints, varnishes, and stains. Boiled Linseed Oil is used to seal timber, protecting indoor furniture and cabinets, and artist's use it as a thinner for oil paint. Over time BLO gets harder creating a great protective layer. Generally, using BLO, by saturating the timber will produce a pleasing golden glow, which over time will darken to an amber colour. Maintaining a BLO finish is achieved by simply wiping over with a damp cloth as with a Wax Finish, again without detergents. Unlike Wax, as BLO is usually used by saturating the timber, the piece can be handled more, and scratches will be less evident. A coat of BLO (as long as other finishes haven't been used on top of the BLO), will help maintain the finish once a year, and will only help the timber soak up more of the BLO. However, on some timbers, the finish can feel oily to the touch, and not feel nice to handle. Oils: There is a large range of types of oils such as water-based ones and they are for both interior and exterior use. These finishes are similar to wax finishes only they are thinner so timber can absorb it much more easily than wax. Oil finishes are rubbed or brushed onto the timber like wax and they are easy to apply and maintain, though more coats may be needed than a stain because of how light and thin most oils are. Polyurethane: Polyurethane is usually intended as finishing coat once a stain is applied, more often though they are used as a finish that is easy to apply and increases the appearance of the natural bare timber. Care for this finish is probably the easiest, and most durable, as essentially the finish seals the timber like a plastic coating. Wiping with a damp cloth like other finishes is usually the easiest, and you could use a soft soap to remove dirt, though Polyurethane can be easily scratched. CA Glue (Cyanoacryolyte Glue): A CA Finish is very similar to Polyurethane, and a coating we often use on our pens. Generally, cleaning and maintaining the wood products we sell and supply, only need to be cleaned with a soft cloth to remove dust. To remove built-up grime we recommend a damp cloth and gentle rubbing, as the majority of the finishes we use could be damaged if harsh cleaners and soaps are used. Though, we do try to use finishes that allow you to use (particularly pens, or products that would be handled often), without damaging them.