This is Penn State Industries' Turncrafter Commander 12" Variable Speed Midi Lathe. The Carbide tools pictured with it are BlackLine Turning Tools Midi set. The set includes a stainless steel handle and four carbide inserts (left to right): square, diamond, round and W. The inserts are mounted on shafts, which are inserted in the handle.

Lathes are used for turning objects from pens to table legs, or on a larger scale, missile bodies. I worked at Honeywell's Marine Systems Division in the 1980's and loved watching the mechanics operate the huge CNC lathes turning aluminum and steel billets into cylinders. These days, my usage is on a much smaller scale, typically a few inches at a time.

Turning a piece of wood from a small blank into a crafted pen is a very rewarding experience and involved several steps before it is mounted on the lathe. Once on the lathe, the pen is shaped with a few different tools, some to provde the rough shape quickly, others to provide internal and external curves, and others to etch fine lines into the material. The combination of these provides a custom pen or pencil every time.


This is a Wen 13-Inch, 3-Blade, Benchtop Thickness Planer. The 15 Amp motor provides over 25,500 cuts per minute, which can plane boards up to 13 in. wide and 6 in. thick with ease.

Thickness planers are used to plane, or smooth, rough and worn wood to give it an exceptionally nice finish. For shop stands, as shown, the finish is nice enough to use directly off the planer. There is no need for additional sanding for this type of work. It is excellent for smoothing out the transition between glued surfaces like large signs or plaques.

Planers are very proficient at generating large piles of sawdust and fine chips. Planing the boards shown in the stand built for this planer generated about 10 gallons of sawdust. I use a 5 gallon pre-stage cyclone attached to a 12-gallon Shop-Vac and was planing multiple 4 x 4's, 2 x 4's and 2 x 6's for several projects on the day I made the stand for this. In about 30 minutes I had to empty out the 5 gallon cyclone at least 6 times. Got mulch?

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