Pen Making Timbers
There are literally hundreds of timbers available in Australia for pen turning. Some are softer than others and turn very easily, whilst “outback” timbers are often hard and more difficult to turn.
Some of my favourites include silky oak, camphor laurel, jacaranda, mango, avocado, and sandalwood. Camphor laurel produces a unique smell that repels insects and vermin, so I turn it at least once a month. Sandalwood has the nicest aroma.
“Outback” timbers like beefwood (related to silky oak), hairy oak, gidgee and dead finish are all very hard timbers and require sharp tools and patience to produce a nice product. Other timbers like brigalow, budgaroo and mulga seem a little easier to work than the other “outback” timbers.
Gums (or Eucalyptus) produce a range of colours and are generally relatively easy to turn with very sharp chisels. Brushbox, spotted gum, grey ironbark, red gum, and tallowwood are favourites from this group of timbers. It is simply amazing, the colour variations that come from this family of trees,
We like to mill small logs into pen blanks. This allows us to cut in various directions to maximise the grain patterns. Most timber is quarter sawn, that is it is first cut in half, then each half again and the remaining quarters are milled to give maximum size pieces of wood. The cuts are made longitudinally along the log. When we mill the log, we can take a diagonal cut after the log is halved to get interesting and unusual grain patterns.
Most of the timbers mentioned above grow in Queensland, and they are readily available. However, and there are many more wonderful timbers that grow across Australia. Tasmanian timbers (like Huon Pine. Sassafras, Celery top, etc.) are ideal for turning projects as are many of the Western Australian Timbers (like Jarrah, Yarran, etc.)
Naturally, there are many imported timbers, however, my stocks in those are limited to a few incredible timbers like African wenge, ebony, bocote, purple heart and zebrawood, to name a few.
Recently, I experimented with bloodwood, kingwood, Australian blackwood, Quandong and walnut. All worked out well and produced amazing pieces.
At Aussiepensnthings, we are happy to create pens and other items from almost any timber. If you have a timber preference or item preference, please do not hesitate in contacting me to confirm I have what you need.
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Thanks for your interest in wood for pen making,