Travis is a retired gentleman in my area does woodworking to keep him out of the rocking chair and make his gift-giving more fun. He’s a spry 82, married 62 years to the beautiful Opal Ann, and he trips over to my place about once a week with a boxful of his creations. Haven’t seen his shop but he makes magic with wood that he calls his ‘hobby.’ He has brought me writing pens from several different wood blanks. He adds the hardware, the ink refill, and produces pieces his happy recipients love and admire. I just did some giant chess pieces. Goblets are a favorite of his that I put names on for the bride and groom.
He knows I’m usually awash in wine so he fired up his lathe and turned out some bottle stoppers. He uses a variety of wood including mesquite, Bois d’Arc, pecan, walnut, ash, and a few others. The shapes above are a ‘set’ and all have the standard size plastic accordion-type seal that perfectly fits the bottle. These are available from wine accessories supply places. He has me engrave his designs for gifts and he says they’re always a hit.
Most often, I use a #3 round carbide. Sometimes a #4. As you know, I spend most of my time on glass and metal; I don’t like the dust and smell of the burned wood as the drill courses through it. But, when Travis drives up I always accommodate him and give him a one-horse-town price since I know he’s not selling anything.
From my experience I can tell you that the ONLY two groups making any serious money with the drill and wood are those rare birds with enormous talent who carve three-dimensional art like birds, animals, and relief carving on gun cabinets and fancy doors or mantle pieces. The other group is made up of the people who can turn a gunstock into a masterpiece you wouldn’t want to take to the duck blind or deer stand. Those folks may spend literally days to months on one piece and pocket a fat check for the work.
The third major category who makes the register ring are those of us who spend a minute to an hour, max (for me at least) on an item that is personalized. When you can put names, dates, sentiments, and a little heart or star on a gift item you can charge what amounts to a totally crazy hourly rate for a few minutes work.
Hat’s off to those successful folks with drill and wood. The rest of you with a drill and a penchant for wood might find a hobbyist who turns out items that are crying for a name in beautiful script to make the recipient proud. A cool feature is the fact that the drill also acts as a wood-burning tool as the friction in cutting will often blacken the inside of the letters. But you’re better off putting names on wine & spirits bottles!
Check out our newly arranged website. The January Professional Engraving Class is now open for enrollment to get you ready for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, with births, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, divorces, and poker champions happening every day in between.