I made a pencil – simple and rather boring woodturning project had unexpected challenges

I made a pencil – simple and rather boring woodturning project had unexpected challenges

There are woodturners, who make nothing else, but pens. I am very new to woodworking in general – I’ve completed only a handful of projects – and I don’t want to invest into proper equipment to make pens. However, that doesn’t mean I cannot have some fun and make, let’s say, a pencil. So that is what I did and here is how.

Since I knew I am just going to have some fun without some specific goals, I did not pay much attention to the materials. I went to the office supplies store and purchased a box of leads for mechanical pencils. I asked for the thickest ones they had, but it still turned out to be pretty thin. Especially having in mind I wanted to make a fat pencil.

I cut a couple of pieces of black alder and sanded them on their flattest side. This gave me two flat surfaces for a good glue joint. Then I took a straight edge and made a faint line down the middle of one piece. I had to carve out a groove for the lead to sit in.

Wood is black alder

My method was less than perfect. The groove as not very consistent at all, but again – I was just having some fun without any specific goals. When both grooves were completed and I made sure pieces mate well enough, I glued in the lead with CA glue.

I glued in the lead using CA glue.

Since lead was floating around, I immediately glued both wood pieces together as well. This gave me a nice blank for my pencil. A couple of days later I mounted it on my tiny baby lathe and started thinking about the shape I should go for.

Ready for turning.

Of course, at first the blank became round. At this point I could leave it as is – it would be a very thick pencil.

Making it round produced a lot of shavings.

Then I started looking for a shape. I didn’t really know what I wanted, but I wanted an outside and inside curves and a small bead. At least, that is what I eventually decided. I used a single fingernail gauge for the entire project.


I sanded it to 600 grit, took it off the lathe and cut of that little piece from the end. Then I was able to mount it back to the lathe and carefully sand that little bead at the end.

I could have sharpened it on the lathe, but I decided not to try. It would be quite simple, but somehow my pencil ended up having its lead not in the very centre. That, of course, is a problem. So I sharpened it using just a pencil sharpener and a small chisel to bring tiny shy lead to the surface all around.

Weird shape fat pencil.
I had to sharpen it with a chisel too, since the lead was not in the centre at all.
Finished product does work.

This is nothing to be proud of, but it was a simple and fun project. Much simpler than that spoon I turned last time. Now, onto the next project – maybe it will be a pen this time?

Woodturning two spoons at once – good old paper trick worked

Woodturning two spoons at once – good old paper trick worked

Woodworkers know that at some point you have to start making spoons. It is a good way to experiment with different techniques and tools. Some people make nothing but spoons of different shapes and sizes. However, I don‘t have skills to do anything as impressive as these people do and so I decided to make a very simple pare of spoons using nothing, but a piece of paper, some tape, a tiny lathe and a couple of chisels. This is how they were made.

I know a couple of questions have to be answered at the very beginning. The lathe is called CNC007 Mini Lathe Beads Machine. There are several versions of the same thing in different Chinese online stores, snoop around and you will find something. It is a good toy for people, who want to woodturn in their living room (not even joking) or move a lot, or for children, or for model making. Not a substitute for a real lathe, I know. The gauge is made by Norex, wood is black alder.

So I got this idea I can woodturn a couple of spoons my tiny lathe with some wood that I had laying around. I saw somewhere online that glueing two pieces of wood together with paper in between allows for quick separation, but holds well enough while turning. So that’s what I did – I glued a couple of 14 cm long pieces of alder together with a piece of normal paper in between. I left it to dry for a couple of days (several hours would’ve been enough) and then put the blank on the lathe.



Now on a normal lathe you would likely have a proper 4-jaw chuck, which would hold a square-is blank very nicely. However, my lathe is so small I have to turn between centres. Live tailstock is also shaped like a cone. This combination got me a little worried that the piece will fall apart as both ends get wedges on a relatively weak glue-and-paper line. So I put some regular packing tape on both ends for my psychological comfort more than anything.

Lathe took asymmetrical piece rather well. There were some vibrations, but nothing dramatic and the tiny motor was spinning just fine. At first I rounded the centre between pieces of tape just to remove some mass. And then I got enough courage to make the entire piece round. It didn’t take too long and everything went very safely. At this point I had to start looking for the shape of my spoons. I knew from the very beginning it is going to be like turning a log to a toothpick, but that gave me a lot of room to see what I would like these spoons to be.


Of course, as I turned off most of the glue surface, pieces started coming apart – that was inevitable as the tailstock was wedging itself in.

However, I continued turning. Since pieces were small, I wasn’t so worried that they will fly apart and hit me to the face. I decided to go with a relatively deep, almost scoop-sized bowl, sweeping handle and a couple of decorative beads at the end.


However, I did manage to finish turning and do all the sanding on the lathe. Since pieces were small, I wasn’t so worried that they will fly apart and hit me to the face. Then I pulled it off the lathe, separated the pieces, cut off that little piece left on the drive end and sanded it to shape. By the way, paper trick worked magically, but you already know that since pieces were coming apart on the lathe already.

I sanded the paper off, but didn’t do anything else on that side. I decided to leave spoons on my desk until I have a carving chisel to hollow them out. But working get boring sometimes and I had this very sharp 2 mm straight chisel laying around so I started playing with it and in no time at all I hollowed out the spoons.

Obviously, that is not the way to do that and I didn’t plan this, but it just happened this way. If you are planning a similar project, I strongly advise you to buy proper tools, secure your work and not to get your hands in a way of a sharp edge.

Anyway, I sanded the inside surfaces to 600 grit sandpaper, because that is what I finished the outside with on the lathe. And this is the end product. Mind you, I could have sanded it better and using a proper carving gauge would’ve resulted in less deep grooves that did not want to sand away.


Nothing to be proud of, but I am glad I did it. Except the paper trick, all the ideas and techniques I came up with by myself as I was working along. This was the third thing I’ve ever turned and it turned out quite well. I already know a couple of other projects I am going to turn on this lathe and one of them is going to involve hollowing out a form on a lathe. So look forward to that.

Homemade wooden earrings – plans were changed, but the result is good enough

Homemade wooden earrings – plans were changed, but the result is good enough

If you’re starting out woodworking or doing pretty much any kind of craft, you are probably going to end up making jewelry or some other accessories. We don’t know why, but it seems to be an inevitable path that every handy person goes through. Today we are going to tell you about an experiment and we will let you decide if it was successful. It all started from an earring kit and an idea to make foxes.

Earrings look completely different, drawing is ugly and finish is far from perfect.

As you may know, I gladly cross boundaries to do woodworking at home, in a small apartment. As quiet as my woodturning practices are, they are quite annoying to clean up. So, for a change, I decided to try something new – to make a pair of simple wooden earrings. Which is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.

You may think that making simple jewelry from wood is not that hard – you just need to cut q shape out, sand and glue it on some earring you bought from a crafts’ store. That’s what I did, basically, but it was far from easy. I bought some pairs of cheap simple earring kits from Perlina.lt. And decided I was going to make foxes – a cartoon-fox-faced shape was requested by the girl who was going to wear the earrings if they happened to be successful.

This is homemade plywood – it has five plies and is reasonably strong, although as thin as a playing card.

Now. Wood is not the ideal material for this kind of thing. It reacts to moisture contents in its surroundings by shrinking and expanding. That means that the glue would eventually let go or the wooden part would curl up and look ugly. Plywood is much more stable in this regard and, in my opinion, is the ideal choice. But store-bought plywood is kind of thick for earrings so I decided to make my own.

And these are the earrings I purchased for this experiment.

I used my Stanley No.120 blockplane (the one you see in the header of the website) to try and make some very thin black alder shavings. I then glued them by alternating the grain direction into three little squares – one was a spare one in case I messed something up. This was all an experiment – I am sure many people have done it before, but I thought of it by myself. In this way, I got five-ply plywood that’s very thin and strong enough for the earrings.

Hobby knife did not work that well to cut out the foxes from my plywood – scissors worked much better.

I found a cartoon fox face that I liked and tried cutting it out from my plywood using a hobby knife. Didn’t work that well, so I switched to scissors, which worked much better. Then I sanded the edges smooth and shaped the foxes. It already looked like my experiment was a success – the homemade plywood worked very well.

Then I used a two-part epoxy to glue the earrings to the foxes and I let it dry for a very long time. At this point, I could’ve spray-lacquered  the earring and call it done, but the faces looked kind of dull. Black alder is not really a beautiful wood and it looked empty. So I decided to give faces to the foxes.

Epoxy was used to join wooden and metal parts – later, I covered the round metal part and the entire back with an additional layer of black alder.

I drew them with a black marker. I have no artistic talent – if I did, painting the faces would be a better option. But I decided to go for a “doodle on the notebook” style and it worked well enough for what it was. But the spray lacquer (probably a solvent in it) reacted to the marker and washed it off. It was ruined. I tried sanding it off, but in the process the earring part fell off and the plywood became too thin, while ugly marks were still visible.

Just to save the situation, I decided to add two more layers – one to the front, and one to the back over the flat part of the earring. In this way, the plywood will be the right thickness and earrings will be stronger. After this was dry I reshaped them and noticed that now, after the second round on the sandpaper, foxes are way different from one another.  I tried making them similar, but still, you can tell they are not made professionally. Then I drew faces with a simple black ballpoint pen – foxes became cats. Good enough, I think, although they are totally different.

Unique, but not very pretty – the next ones are going to look much better.

After several coats of spray lacquer the earrings were done. They don’t look that good but I learned a lot in the process. And they are being worn, which is quite a recognition. Now I think I have new ideas about how to use my homemade plywood, but more about that next time.

Woodturning in the living room – no-excuses way of picking up a cool hobby (Video)

Woodturning in the living room – no-excuses way of picking up a cool hobby (Video)

Have you noticed that weird-looking, almost toy-like tool and the honey dipper in our header? It is related to one of the hobbies we want to tell you about. Woodturning is an extremely fun thing to do and you can create some remarkable pieces, even if you are not a very artistic person. However, many people say that they have no space, time, money or skills. This article – and a video – will try to prove that woodturning is for everyone.

The picture from our header – it IS possible to woodturn, even if you live in a city.

The thing in the header is a CNC07 MINI LATHE. It is what it sounds like – a woodturning lathe so compact you can almost fit it in your back pocket. It is almost big enough to make an 8-centimetre bowl (it doesn’t have a chuck for that, though), yet it is so small you can fit it in your living room if you really want to. But, should you woodturn inside your house?

Woodworking is becoming rare nowadays, because less and less young people see it as a hobby. And, as much as I hate sounding like an old man, it is a shame, because it is such a stress reliever. Now, I’m not a woodworker by any means, I have made two honey dippers so far, but I’ve watched countless videos on YouTube and I am sort of getting the feeling of what it is about.

Cheap, light and sturdy enough – it will allow you to feel the satisfaction in woodturning.

It is energizing and absolutely inspiring. The second I have a piece of wood in front of me spinning at 2000 rpm, it is almost as if I can see a thing trapped inside of it and I must set it free from the surrounding material. And while I am doing so, discovering new shapes and what a simple gauge can do, I start imagining other things I can make using the techniques I am learning at the moment. Learning by doing it. Who knew this would feel so great?

Sure, other kinds of woodworking are equally as satisfying, if not more – I don’t know. But you are not moving through these projects as smoothly. When woodturning, you can see a piece of wood morphing into your final project. As Jay Bates, a famous YouTube woodworker said, a lathe is the only tool that can make a project from the beginning to the end. It’s a quick win. Therefore, it is not a surprise many people want to have a go at it So, we’re back to the excuses.

First of all, lack of skills. You really should not be afraid to try. In this horribly filmed and edited video you can see the second piece I’ve ever turned. My techniques are far from perfect, but I enjoyed every bit of it and it worked out the way I wanted it to.

As long as you are taking it slowly, you will be fine. Just don’t compare yourself to people who have been doing this for ages.

Lack of money? This particular lathe costs less than a hundred euros. Sure, it’s not the best lathe in the world, but it is a good starting point. It has a 180 W power motor, which is not much, and spins from two to eight thousand rpm. You won’t be making anything big with it, but, to get the taste, it is perfect.

No room? You can buy cheaper lathes if you search for a used one, but buying a mini lathe (not necessarily this in particular) is a cheap and compact option. You can woodturn on the window sill of your apartment, why wouldn’t you? All dust settles around the lathe, so it is not too hard to vacuum after the work is finished, and the lathe really isn’t that loud so that your neighbours would complain.

And time? You will find an hour somewhere to woodturn something small, if you really want to – it is a small quick win, consider it a therapy.

How was the honey dipper made?

A honey dipper is the perfect first project on a lathe. It is just basic spindle turning, but you can experiment with shapes and come up with your original designs as you go. You will learn how to make things thin, to shape the inside and outside curves, to make small details and much more. This one in particular was made from black alder, which is not a particularly hard wood – perfect for woodturning small pieces.

The second honey dipper is a bit more elegant.

At first, a square section of 2.5 cm width and 10 cm length was cut using a handsaw. The piece was mounted in between centres – if you’re a beginner, you have to learn to mount the piece properly, so that it would not fly away. Hammer the drive bit into your piece pretty deeply and then squeeze it in using a tailstock. Then, after making sure everything is well and good, the lathe was turned on at the lowest speed (2000 rpm) and the piece was turned round. Then the head of the dipper was found and the handle shaped with a couple of beads in the middle. You should not turn the handle too thin before finishing the rest of the dipper. Then grooves were cut with a smaller chisel and the whole thing was sanded up to 600 grit. No finish required to keep it nice and food safe.

Both pieces together – you can see how close all the sawdust settles. It is really easy to clean.

It was a lot of fun. It took way longer than it should have, but I enjoyed my time spent turning. This lathe does not have a chuck for hollowing out forms, but I think I will try turning something more original next time. A small bowl? A little box with a lid? A pen? You will have to visit nodum.org more often to find out.

Homemade Secret Wood ring – not as easy as it looks, but you should definately try it (Video)

Homemade Secret Wood ring – not as easy as it looks, but you should definately try it (Video)

There is an interesting style of jewellery, combining wood and resin. So called “secret wood” rings and necklaces are quite expensive, but people are still drawn to them, because of how interesting they look. Broken food fibres encased in a colourful resin look like there is an entire mysterious world, hidden inside of a small accessory. It really is beautiful. And, if you’re somewhat handy, you can make one at home.

Now, making it at home will not really save you money. Secret wood style requires a lot of resin and a tremendous amount of labour. So if you value your time, you should not consider making it in the first place. Peter Brown, creator of a popular YouTube channel, experimented with making secret wood rings and it is very interesting to see how he made them.

There really is no secret about technology of secret wood rings and other kinds of accessories. It is just broken piece of wood, encased in epoxy or polyester resin, mixed with some dye. Sometimes glitter is added or several colours are used, in order to make the ring look even more interesting. But this simplicity doesn’t really tell how much work goes into making one of these art pieces.

Peter Brown showed several of different methods of breaking a piece of wood. It is actually quite an important part of the project, because broken fibres cannot look too tidy, yet have to stop splitting at a certain point to make the ring strong. He tried breaking it by hand, he dried cutting a kerf with a bandsaw to make a sharp line, but eventually find the best results by using a simple vice. It allowed him to break a plank in a controlled manner, which produced the desired effect.

Then Brown did what he does quite often in his YouTube channel – pulled out his resin. He mixed up a match of epoxy resin, poured a couple of drops of blue dye into it and poured it into a mould with the broken plank. This was actually the easiest part. Usually when pouring epoxy you have to be very careful to avoid bubbles, but in this case tiny bubbles and “imperfections” actually just add to the illusion.

Afterwards the story was the usual wooden ring making – drilling a hole of appropriate diameter and a lot of shaping and sanding. That required huge amounts of efforts and time. Bringing epoxy to a clear finish it not easy, but in this case it was even more difficult and wet sanding was not an option. Brown finished the job with some plastic polish.

It is not the only “secret wood” project that Brown completed. He also made a woodturned bowl with polyester resin. It featured different shades of blue, making the illusion of the night sky. Looks quite cool, but that required a painful amount of expensive resin and a lot of time.

Original Secret Wood rings cost way over a 100 USD. According to Peter Brown, the price is justified just because of the labour it requires to produce such a piece of art. Furthermore, company sells some pretty cool effects, which would be difficult to replicate at home. On the other hand, it is very tempting to try – it would make a pretty cool present.

About Nodum

Nodum.org is a website dedicated to the most interesting news on the internet. Articles about automotive world, science and technology, popular history, interesting videos and many other subjects are published regularly. The biggest emphasis is put on creativity: interesting travelling destinations, hobbies, professions, places where people are not usually allowed to visit and so on. If you are doing something really interesting in your life that you would like to tell everyone about, contact us via our Facebook page, or send us an email to nodum2017@gmail.com.