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Thread: Juniper wands?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Juniper wands?

    Beginning turner here and loving every minute of it. I recently raided the wood pile and started making some wands. After posting a pic on social media I had a request from a co-worker to make her daughter a wand from a juniper tree that she just had cut down.

    Which leads me to a bunch of questions:
    1. Can I turn the wand green and let it dry before finishing it (planned finish is either tru-oil or beeswax) or should I cut a blank and microwave dry it before turning, or turn green and seal green, or ???
    2. How does juniper turn? Anything I should be aware of before I throw it on the lathe? (My experience thus far has been with apple, elm, oak, purpleheart, and cherry all well seasoned)
    3. Is there any way to preserve the purple color of juniper or is it always going to change to brown over time?


    Thanks in advance for any tips!

  2. #2
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    My 2 cents: Beeswax is not a finish, but is mixed with many finch formulas. The juniper will need to be straight as an arrow or you are likely to encounter some cross gran and breakage. Juniper is a very sift wood and easy to turn, It s very prone to heat cracking. Sand slowly. I have not found a way to keep the red color. I think trying to make a wand from green wood will end in failure, but the wood is cheap o give it a try

  3. #3
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    Smitty,

    What kind of juniper? I use Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar) a lot and straight beeswax is one of my favorite finishes for it.

    This picture shows some wands I did about 10 years ago. From the left, numbers 9,10,11, 12, 14, 16, 17, and 18 are made from juniperus virginiana (ERC). Some have nothing but straight beeswax (from my beehives) and the shinier ones are Mylands friction polish. I do use TruOil on things that get handled a lot but I've never put it on a wand. I have also used several coats of Watco "danish" oil on cedar with good results.

    wands_P7203936.jpg

    ERC is great for wands. While it's an extremely stable wood I would still dry it before turning to minimize warping. You can cut some 1x1 or so blanks and let them air dry or microwave gently, using the heat/dry/weigh technique. I agree that using a piece with straight grain can help, especially with some types of wood. I've turned some wands from pretty twisty cedar using the "left hand steady rest" technique. I wrote a document on how to do this: JKJ's Turning thin spindles

    ERC is fine grained and turns cleanly. Some people are sensitive to the dust but it's not a severe hazard as some other woods - just blowing the dust off the skin is sufficient for most people.

    Most ERC I cut on my sawmill is bright purplish in color but as it dries it rapidly changes to a more subdued color which doesn't seem to change much over the years. Here are a few things I've turned from it which don't look much different now than when turned 10 or 15 years ago (1st, 2nd, and 4th have pure beeswax only - the 3rd one is six coats of lacquer)

    sawmill_cedar_IMG_20171204_165233_909.jpg cedar_bowl.jpg cedar_bowl_figured.jpg cedar_vessel.jpg penta_plates_comp_cropped.jpg

    If you want to keep the color, consider dye. Here is some info on color change in wood. It is specifically addresses exotic woods but most of it applies to domestic species as well: http://www.wood-database.com/wood-ar...-exotic-woods/

    If you are referring to another species of juniper such as Juniperus deppeana or Juniperus procera, I have no clue.

    JKJ

  4. #4
    John, have any of the wands been used by orchestra conductors ?

  5. #5
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    I'm not sure what type of juniper she has, I guess I will know tomorrow. But the price (free) is hard to pass up.

    Thank you all for the advice. I'll post some pictures up as I go!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    John, have any of the wands been used by orchestra conductors ?
    Mel,

    For orchestra and band use I make conductor's batons, another thin spindle challenge. These are holly, dogwood, kingwood, lignum vitae, and cocobolo.

    batons2a_IMG_4996.jpg

    I got started on making these when a friend wanted me to make one she could buy as a gift for her boyfriend (now husband) graduating as a band director. I said sure, although I had never made one.) When she asked how much it would cost I told her $75, but if she came and helped pick out the wood, refine the design, and watch and even try some cuts on the lathe the cost would be zero. She liked that option!! (I've been able to introduce the lathe to several people with this method. )

    IMG_20150318_133012_294_s.jpg
    (I've known this girl since she was in the SS kindergarten class I teach, now graduated from college.)

    In my research on batons, I discovered one thing - at least with established conductors the choice of baton is very personal. Some are very particular about the shape of the handle, color, length, weight, and balance.

    JKJ

  7. #7
    That's interesting, I'm a little surprised that there is no spill over between the two forms. Maybe those magic wands are just a bit too powerful ! Thanks, John

  8. #8
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    baton vs wand

    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    That's interesting, I'm a little surprised that there is no spill over between the two forms.
    I suspect the biggest difference is the handle and the way a baton is gripped. A full hand grip around a wand handle might be needed in a vicious battle with demons and dementors in a thunderstorm. The conductor may hold a baton more lightly and even gripped between thumb and one finger. The balance point is also critical to some conductors but less a concern to wizards. This might be interesting to anyone who wants to make a baton:

    https://www.pagubatons.com/Step-1-Th...aton_c_10.html

    The video is interesting too - it appears my big Powermatic lathe may be out of line in a pro baton shop!

    Another difference between the two is the visibility. Perhaps someone going for stealth magic may not want the wand to stand out but when I sat in orchestras with my french horn the baton visibility was important. When I researched this a few years it appeared that all are white shafts, maple or fiberglass/carbon fiber, sometimes painted with a bright white paint of some sort. Most of those I saw were made with a non-tapered shaft, I'm guessing from dowels purchased and tapered a bit on the ends. I turn the shaft with a skew from a thin blank which gives me more design options. I think they look good with the shaft tapered outwards to seamlessly meet the curve of the handle. I can use wood species not readily available commercially too. This more difficult to make than using a dowel, of course, requiring some thin spindle techniques (I don't use a steady rest). I even tried one made in one piece, the one made from dogwood in the photo. This probably is not balanced to suit a conductor but I think it looks nice.

    Anyone who knows a conductor might try making one as a gift. Who knows, it might lead to some income (or maybe a complimentary concert ticket!) I read an article about one baton maker who travels all over the world to repair or make new custom batons for famous conductors, sometimes on an emergency basis. I suspect that job may require some skill dealing with temperamental people as well as wood!

    The mass produced batons are cheap, many less than $30, custom a lot more. Fancy handles in acrylic seem to be popular, at least judging by what is advertised. Maybe they use blanks made for game calls.
    http://www.martinsonbatons.com/baton...y&material=any

    Oh, I did notice when I hand a youngster a baton they immediately try to cast a spell with it!

    JKJ
    Last edited by John K Jordan; 01-12-2018 at 7:54 AM.

  9. #9
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    Well I had fun starting the day learning about batons although I have made one with no knowledge of what I was doing. On the juniper over the years I have found that danish oil with lacquer over it helps keep the color. I would also agree that the wood needs to be dry before turning because I doubt if it would stay straight turned green.

  10. #10
    Thanks,John. I watched it and learned ..."this too, is too complicated". Soon football stars with multiple fractures will be in doctor offices next to conductors who used a too heavy baton! Makes me appreciate those pretty girls spinning those giant
    heavy metal batons even more!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mel Fulks View Post
    .. Makes me appreciate those pretty girls spinning those giant heavy metal batons even more!
    Then this may be an interesting coincidence: the girl I showed working on the conductor's baton at the lathe was also the head majorette at the University of TN a couple of years ago, spinning, throwing, and catching metal, fire, and who knows what else. Maybe she and her now husband can both visit the doctor's office together with arm and wrist problems! (I HOPE not! Yikes, her name is Hope, too. Too much, I can't take it, this is like the Twilight Zone.)

    IMG_20150318_132147_330_s.jpg

    JKJ

  12. #12
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    John, Thanks for the tips on the left hand steady technique. I was taking a similar approach, but your description helped me refine my technique a bit and helped a lot! Very well written instructions!

    I also had the opportunity to visit some friends and fellow turners today and try my hand at a bowl for the first time. Great day all around!

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