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Where did I go wrong? Leopard wood handle first attempt (with pics).

Lomg time lurker, 2nd time poster. I wanted to use snakewood, but that stuff is super expensive, so I got a 2x2x6” piece of leopardwood instead. I cut it into two 3” chunks, and borrowed my little brother’s Mini Lathe II with an 18-piece Robert Sorby tool kit. I then realized that turning a handle is a lot more difficult than it looked on YouTube. In hindsight, I guess I should have done a few LOT of practice pieces before doing it on wood that mattered. I don’t even know which end of the current piece would be best to put the knot in.. originally I planned to put it in the open (not held down) side, but after looking at it, it seems like that side might be better... though, honestly, I think I screwed it to the point where it’s time to scrap it and move on to another. In any event, at least I have another 3“ piece left to work on after I get better... to that point, any advice on what I did wrong or how I can get better? Resources for learning how to make handles? Anything?

 
That peace could be salvaged if you like the shape. Or you could Salvage at least part of it by cutting it off clean and gluing on a complementary color piece of wood. Black ebony known as gaboon ebony would be beautiful with that wood. Something that helps me visualize the brush better is getting the peace roughed out to a basic cylinder, then drilling the hole for the knot, then shaping the brush the rest of the way. The hole for the knot should be about 2mm bigger than the glue plug. It's best to have the knot before you start because they can very a bit.
When I have a little more time I'll find help more as I can. Hope this helps for now. PS a lot of guys practice on a piece of something like 2 by 4. You can get a really bad idea of the shape you like an out-of-form it cheaply that way.
 
@GAW9576 thanks for the reply... I took what you said to heart, and went back through the lathe kit I’m borrowing from my brother (in exchange for use of my chainsaw 😆) and watched YouTube videos explaining each individual component and tool blade attachment... it helped. I then went back to the screwed up handle and took a little off here, a little off there, sanded, sanded some more, then finally cut it off and sanded the top. I’m surprised it actually turned out looking halfway decent... I really thought it would have to be scrapped! Had it not been for your post, I don’t think I would have even tried continuing on with the piece. Now I’ve gotta little more confidence I can make a better one next time...

All that seems to be left now is googling the best/most affordable option for glossing this little guy up permanently (the photos are from using a damn rag to wipe it down after the final 1000 grit rubdown) .. and using a Forstner bit to put a hole in the bottom. Any advice on the glossing part?

here’s how it came out.. again, thanks for letting me know it wasn’t beyond saving.

 
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That looks pretty good. Especially for a first attempt at turning. A lot of guys use CA glue as a finish. Very thin layers are applied with light sanding in between to keep things smooth. Then when its built up thick enough you do your final sanding. I wet sand to 12,000 grit then use a polishing paste. I have a hate hate hate love relationship with CA finish. I absolutely hate the application process but love the finished product.
 
Where did you go wrong? By starting with leopardwood lol. Seriously there are much easier woods for your first project. It’s beautiful wood but takes a little more experience to turn/finish than the gold standard maple. That being said, you made it through and got your handle, and it looks pretty cool so good work.

CA is King! That being said I completely agree with @GAW9576. I hate the thought of it. I hate it while I’m doing it, each and every coat. I hate it when I start to wetsand because I worry about sanding through. And I absolutely love it after it’s finished. But like leopardwood, it’s not a good choice for your first time. I gave a little advice in your other thread which hopefully might help.
 
@GAW9576
Just finished my 2nd handle attempt... made it bigger this time. I think it looks cleaner than the original. Also tried making another on some random piece of wood, and the miter saw grabbed it out of my hand and destroyed it... I don’t know why I didn’t cut it off with the separation tool while it was on the lathe... just forgot, I guess.. I’ve since bought safety glasses and a mask, and started wearing a long sleeved sweater. Lesson learned - safety is important! Glad it wasn’t a more expensive lesson than a piece of wood (such as losing an eye)... anyway, what do you think of the 2nd attempt?

On a side note... I felt pretty stupid earlier. I thought that the very bottom close-together lines on the tape measure were mm and the top were cm... so I made the small handle 27 (what I thought were mm). Turns out it was only 15mm, which makes it pretty much useless. The larger handle was done after learning of my mistake to exactly 27mm (so it can fit a 1” hole). Sadly, the person who told me which lines were mm was my friend’s 10 year old 4th grade daughter. I have a doctorate, and had to take instruction from a little kid! There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I’m sure. In any case, I guess being a complete novice to woodworkomg means I’m allowed to make some rookie errors... as long as I don’t make the same mistakes twice.

@CigarSmoka thanks! I did notice when I was turning the handle for the other piece of wood (not sure what it is, exactly) that it was much easier to work with than the leopardwood. i didn’t realize it at the time, but maybe it’s a good thing I started with something challenging.. it’ll make almost everything else seem easier in comparison! What other woods are difficult but great to look at? I went to Brazo’s Forest Products today to go dumpster diving.. I thought I found some good hardwood, but when I turned it big pieces just tore right off... guess it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I’m thinking maybe I should just buy a few sticks of maple, or something inexpensive to practice on?
 

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The bigger one looks pretty good. The small one looks well a bit small as you said. But it was still good practice turning.
 
The biggest handle looks like it will serve you well.
I have turned leopard wood in the past
and it does have its challenges .
If you live close to a Home Depot you can purchase a 2inch dowel rod of maple, Popular or Oak that is 2"round by 36" long
that will give you the chance to practice for not much money.
 
Is leopard wood also called Lacewood?
It looks like the same stuff I made some bottle stoppers out of years ago.

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Is leopard wood also called Lacewood?
It looks like the same stuff I made some bottle stoppers out of years ago.
They look similar but leopardwood is darker and more dense. To add even more confusion leopardwood & a couple other species are sometimes wrongly called lacewood, but they’re all in the same family. I saw a guy turn a piece of macadamia nut and it looks a lot like leopardwood. Since the patterns can vary depending on the cut - quartersawn highlights the rays/flecks the best - it’s too hard for me to tell if your stopper is one or the other, sorry. It still looks great though!
 
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They look similar but leopardwood is darker and more dense. To add even more confusion leopardwood & a couple other species are sometimes wrongly called lacewood, but they’re all in the same family. I saw a guy turn a piece of macadamia nut and it looks a lot like leopardwood. Since the patterns can vary depending on the cut - quartersawn highlights the rays/flecks the best - it’s too hard for me to tell if your stopper is one or the other, sorry. It still looks great though!
This stuff was pretty easy to turn from what I remember, so I'm guessing Lacewood. I did one or to with cross grain that I really liked.

That's a beautiful brush @Graydog, hope to see a thread on it so we can hear more about it and see the finished brush.
 
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