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Frequently Asked Questions...

Where do you get your wood?

Most of my wood is recycled, reclaimed wood from the Landscape Recycling Center in Urbana, IL. Since it is close by, I periodically stop in looking for the interesting and unusual. I also go running if I hear a chain saw in the neighborhood. Many of you have also been good sources. If you are looking for something from central Illinois, one of my bowls is a good choice.

For small item such as stoppers and pens, I purchase exotic or specialty woods. These are all from ‘green’ sources.

How long have you been turning?

I often jokingly say three days. I have had a wood lathe and been turning for most of my adult life. In 2002 I became a woodturning addict. I started selling my work in 2005.

How long does it take to make _?

This is a very difficult question to answer and of course it depends on the item.

For bowls this begins with harvesting the wood, cutting then preserving so it will not check or crack. I rough turn, then soak, wrap and dry. Drying usually takes around six months or more. Finally when the moisture content is right, I do the finish turning, followed by sanding, oiling and polishing. So for many pieces, it takes about a year?

If you have watched me demonstrate, I can finish a spinning top in 15 to 20 minutes, however, I have prepared the piece to turn ahead of time.

I also demonstrate turning a wet bowl. This goes fairly quickly, but again the wood had to be harvested and cut before you see the curls fly. After the shaping is done, lots of sanding happens. Later in the week it is ready to finish the top and bottom. A Danish oil soak then polish creates the finished product.  

What kind of wood is that?

People usually ask this question when they see, something called ‘colorwood’, layers of various colors, usually red, purple and yellow. This is Birch that has been dyed and laminated. I buy large quantities of this from a source in Vermont to use for bottle stoppers, pens, and handles for ice cream scoops, pizza cutters and screw drivers.

I do use some dye but most bowls are all natural color. So when you see a dark wood, this is most likely walnut. When you see a light color, it is most likely maple. All bowls are signed and include the species and date.

What is a burl?

A burl is a very peculiar and highly figured wood, prized for its beauty and rarity.

A tree burl is a disfigured, growth that occurs naturally on almost every species of tree; abnormal growth causes the development of intricate grain patterns and vivid colors that cannot be found anywhere else.

These formations can be found on the trunk, near the base of the tree, on large branches, and on the root structure.

How do I take care of my bowl?

If you are using your bowl for food it was most likely finished with Danish oil. Wash by hand only. Do not immerse in water or place in dishwasher. Reapply Danish oil (available at any home center, follow directions) or mineral oils (cheap), if finish dulls. Also, walnut oil or anything that you might have or purchase for a wooden cutting board will work.

If this is a piece used for decoration, it can be shined with a little Johnsons Paste Wax, available at a home center.

Is _ dishwasher safe?

No! Wash by hand. There are some items that I make, such as an ice cream scoop, that have a removable handle. The stainless steel scoop may be put into the dishwasher but never the handle.

Is this a good pen?

Yes. I use only the best quality kits for ball point pens. For rollerball and fountains I use quality Schmidt pen kits.

Can I get a refill for my pen?

The ball point pens I sell require either a Cross or Paper Mate refill. These are available at any office store. And yes, also in fine point. The rollerball pens I sell are made by Schmidt. An online search yielded numerous sources.

How do I change the refill for my pen?

If you have a Cross style cartridge:

  1. Pull pen apart.
  2. Unscrew ink cartridge to remove from pen.
  3. Screw in new cartridge.
  4. Push pen together.

If you have a Parker/Paper Mate style cartridge:

  1. Unscrew pen separating top and bottom.
  2. Remove refill with chrome spacer.
  3. Insert spring on tip of refill and chrome spacer on top of refill.

To change Parker style Uniball refill:

  1. Unscrew pen separating top and bottom.
  2. Remove refill with chrome spacer and spring.
  3. Insert Uniball refill. The spacer and spring are not used.
  4. Screw top onto bottom.

Do you have instructions for a fountain pen?

Yes. If you purchased a fountain pen from me, you received instructions with your purchase. However, if you have misplaced them read the following.

Using a converter

Twist the end of the converter until the piston is against the filling end. Press the converter onto the nib. Dip the nib assembly into the ink then twist the end of the converter back and forth completely several times to ensure the converter is completely filled. If the converter does not draw ink, position the nib further into the ink. To prime the nib so that it’s ready for writing, gently twist the end of the converter until it produces a small drop of ink. Wipe away excess ink for the nib with a paper towel or lint-free cloth. Do not use a tissue as lint may become lodged in the nib causing ink flow inconsistencies.

Using ink cartridges

Press the ink cartridge onto the nib until firmly seated. Gently write on a scrap of paper to begin the ink flow.

Replacing the nib

The nib and feeder assembly should be cleaned frequently for the best performance. To remove the nib and feeder assembly, place a tissue over the nib assembly and gently pull the assembly out of the end of the pen. The typically will not require much effort unless ink has dried in the assembly. To reassemble, place the nib on top of the feeder and align as shown. Align the nib assembly with the opening in the nib holder and press into place.


Fountain pens should be cleaned once a month or when clogged. Remove the ink cartridge/converter, disassemble the nib assembly and flush with tepid water. It may be necessary to let the nib and feeder soak for several hours if severely clogged. Gently brush the feeder ‘fins’ to remove dried ink if necessary. Blow out excess water before installing the ink cartridge. Dry the nib and feeder with a soft, lint-free cloth. DO NOT use hot water or solvents as this may damage the nib and/or finish.

Can I special order?

Yes, you may however… This is very dependent on the availability of the wood, size and my time. It is best to check from time to time to see what I have.

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