Monday, February 29, 2016

The Second Sneak Peak

Good Morning,

We're closing in. 

I'll be starting on the 5,000th ETSY stick shortly (the EBAY stick is napping).  This one you'll see here prior to it being posted on ETSY, along with the stick's details and price.  After number 99 is sold, the only question remaining is, when are we going to post it on ETSY.  Don't worry about that right now though, it's just a bothersome detail, I know you all have much better things to do with your time.  But hey, I'm a nice guy, I wouldn't dream of not telling you when the 24 hour window opens up, and I might even give you a few clues along the way, or not... again, it's a fluid plan.

The Certificate of Authentication

Kind of just makes you wonder what in the world I'm doing now doesn't it.

Have a great day!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The First Sneak Peak

... 4 to go ...
Top of the stick, ground sterling silver inlaid over teal paua

Now I can start having some fun

4,995, only 5 to go.  As fate would have it, I have 4 custom orders to complete which will then put us at 4,999.

H'mmm... what to do, what to do. 

What we have here is a study in duplicity.  On the one hand we have the actual 5,000th sale on ETSY, and then there's the commemorative 5,000th stick  on EBAY.  It's a circular conundrum so to speak, as in, which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

So who is going to own the actual 5,000th ETSY stick?

This is where it starts getting fun... at least for me.  I'm thinking that the 5,000th ETSY stick may be a precursor of things to come.  Hey, you only get 1 shot at 5,000, I might as well have some fun in the process.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that the commemorative stick is finally finished?  The linen's are folded, and the stick's bed just needs to be finished.  Wednesday is my target for when the games begin.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sammi's Stick

Good Morning,

... and the reserve price on the commemorative stick is $195

So, let's talk a little bit about sweet Samantha's stick.  It's Ebony, 6.75", featuring a main body inlay of maroon Biwa pearls, with the scales and mini borders in goldstone.  The wide bands are a mixture of deep blue/purple Biwa pearls and blue goldstone.

I'd like to take a moment and describe the process by which I make these types of sticks, so you can see how we arrive at a price of $195.  You may recall the posting where I addressed the .25" minimum stick diameter for the stick's integrity (so it won't break).  When creating this type of full body stick, I have to turn the entire main body to a pin with a diameter of +/- .26".  Paua for example is an extremely thin and brittle shell (.014"), and by the time I adhere it to the pin, I'm usually in a finished diameter neighborhood of .28" - .30".  If  I end up with a diameter greater than .30", I run the risk of hitting the center pin with my tools when finishing the stick.  Once the paua is adhered, it's then cast in resin, turned to it's final shape, engraved, inlaid and finished.  I live in a hundredth's of an inch world.  While it took me quite a while to figure out how not to break the shell when wrapping and adhering it to a .26" pin, I did eventually figure it out and it's a relatively easy process for me today.  The price on a full body paua inlay, as many of you know is $150.

Sammi's stick is in essence the same process, but we used maroon Biwa pearls instead of the paua.  With the mathematics being what they are, I have to inlay the entire body of the stick with the crushed pearls, and end up with a diameter not greater than .30".  Now, referencing back to another posting, "grinding vs. cutting", I can't cut this inlay, if I attempt to do so, it's a guaranteed break.  That only leaves one alternative, grinding and sanding.  Once I'm at the correct diameter, I have to completely finish the center pin to a high gloss, and then it's cast in resin, turned, engraved, inlaid and finished.  The additional $45 above the paua price is simply because it's much more difficult than applying pre-finished paua shell.

So there you have it, stage one is completed.  More to come this weekend (hopefully).

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sammi's Done

I just finished Sammi's stick, and I'll post pictures in the morning, I'm whipped now.

I'll be honest, yes, this has been a challenging stick for me, but at the end of the day(s), I'm like a child, or a cat, as I'm more fascinated with the box.  I'm really struggling here and am on the fence, I could care less about the stick, I just don't know if I can part with the box.  Erin and I have some shopping to do tomorrow, worry not, it'll eventually make sense.

Have a great night!

The Count

Good Morning,

Sammi's stick is well on it's way and should be finished late this afternoon.  Hopefully we'll be able to post some photos this evening or tomorrow morning, it's not going on ETSY.

I can see light at the end of the tunnel, I'm guessing I've got another 8-10 hours to go.  So here's the final count on the total number of individual components.  I knew it was a bunch:

Item                                                          Number
6.5"  Ebony Hairstick                                     1
Paua inlays                                                   18
Sterling Silver Inlays                                      6
Dominant Inlays                                             2
Primary Inlays                                               40
Secondary Inlays                                          426   (Thank you Sammi)
Total Number of Components                  493
I'll be glad when this little project is completed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Box

Good Afternoon,

We just got home from picking the box up from Craig so that I can add a little somethin', somethin'.  I'm here to tell you, he's good.  It will be in my hands for a day or so, and then back to Craig for finishing. (assuming of course that I don't manage to mess it up somehow).

So I guess I'll preface the next part with "You're Welcome", or "I'm Sorry", I guess it all depends upon your perspective.  You see, I kind of introduced Craig to LHC, forks and clips.  Given that I live underground, I don't often get the opportunity to see someone's head explode, but I did today.  Ladies, I think we might have a new player entering the scene, and I know just the guy that can do the inlay work. Stay tuned.

Ok, I think I have the order down in terms of all of this being presented.  Sammi's stick is going in the laser now, and should be finished tomorrow sometime... it will be the next blog posting, along with the reserve price on the 5,000 stick.  Next should be the box, with all of Craig's pertinent information.  Finally, the 5,000 stick along with the box and the "Certificate of Authentication".  I wanted to include this as a reference tool so that whomever ends up with the stick can identify each and every gemstone inlay... because there are a bunch of them, and several appear to be the same, but they aren't.

So there you have it, I've got to get back to work.

Have a great night!

P.S.   I almost forgot, with only 3 sticks in inventory, it hardly warrants a FNS announcement, but if you've got your eye any of them, the prices are going down 20%, Friday at the usual 1:00 PM timeslot. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Something to Discuss

Good Morning,

I'm still plugging along, another 2 hours and 7 more inlays, I'm probably about 40% completed at this point with all of the inlays.

I had an interesting conversation just now with Suricat.  She brought up an issue which hadn't occurred to me, but before I discuss this conundrum, let me provide some background.

While not specifically addressed in our shop policies, we've always maintained a policy regarding sticks that get lost in the mail.  I would guess that we have had less than 1% of packages that have gone missing over the years, so yes, it occurs, but fortunately not often.  In fact, we had one go missing last November, we instituted our policy and incredibly it showed back up on our doorstep 3 days ago.  Very unusual, it's the 1st time a lost stick ever found it's way back home.  Up until 3 days ago, lost sticks remain lost.

So our policy is, and always has been, if a stick goes missing, we ask the customer to wait 90 days before we do anything.  We understand that it's a long wait time, but with less than 1% actually lost, the stick will in all likelihood arrive at some point.  Can we insure them, yes, but it makes zero economic sense.  Insurance rates vary, but in some instances it can cost up to about half the cost of the stick (on less expensive sticks) and I know I'm not paying it and I suspect you don't want to pay it either.  Since a lost stick is no more our fault than it is yours, we in essence ask to co-insure the replacement stick with the customer, it's the most fair solution we can think of.  I recreate the stick or another of similar value, and we sell it to the customer at a 50% discount, plus we pay for shipping.  This way, while economically tragic that it was lost for all parties, we both share in the loss, not just you or not just us.

So here comes the conundrum.  Our plan on the 5,000th stick was that whomever has the winning bid, this one time we are going to insure it, because I am not under any circumstances making this stick again.  We are also going to have it shipped in the most expeditious fashion, overnight and insured if possible, and we're picking up the tab for all shipping related expenses.  We want this stick out of our hands and into yours as quickly as possible.

I think the plan looks good on paper, but Suricat reminded me of the international fees and taxes for our friends on the other side of the pond, based upon value, something I haven't thought about for years.  While the very last thing that I want to do is to scare off any of our international customers, it needs to be addressed.  I don't even begin to understand all of the different fee and tax structures across Europe, but I do understand that it's a real deal.  I'm sorry, but I don't have a good solution, it's a public auction, and at that point we will have only sold 1 item in the last 5 years on EBAY, so it's not a terribly deep paper trail if any inspector types get curious.

Like I said, I have no good solution, and I am truly disheartened on this point for our international customers, because it puts you at a clear disadvantage, but I think the law is pretty clear on this one.

Hopefully my next post will be more uplifting.

Have a great day!


And the good news just keeps on pouring in.  Erin just got home from UPS and provided some shipping cost information, again on the international side of things.  Priority and insured to Munich for example is in the $300 neighborhood and I'm sorry to report that we're not quite that generous.  Let's leave it at this, should an international customer win the bid, in spite of all the hurdles, we'll figure out a shipping plan that makes sense for all of us. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

A few housekeeping notes

Good Morning,

Here's a classic case of turning lemons into lemonade.  About 2 hours ago I received an order confirmation from the company that we use to purchase bronze infused purple turquoise (Brinputu) from.  The only problem is that we haven't placed an order with them since 2012 when they last carried Brinputu.  Well, as you might imagine, I was on the phone with them within 14 nano-seconds.  It turns out that it was simply a computer glich on their end, whew!  The last thing I need right now is a credit card hacked or some other similar problem.  So I was bemoaning to the lady about them no longer carrying Brinputu, as I've had to say no to countless customers over the past 3 years who've requested it.  Turns out that they do have Brinputu, in chip form only, not the beads.  After I explained that I crush all of the gemstones anyway, chips are perfect.  The lemon to lemonade... I bought them out and have 34 strands being shipped to us as I write this.

The 5,000 stick.  I'm slowly making progress on it, I'm now up to 8 hours and I'd estimate that I'm about 20% finished.  So the count as of now is 17 paua pieces and 19 gemstone inlays.  I'll get there, it's just going to take a while. 

So my question is, what good is a commemorative hairstick if it isn't displayed properly, it deserves more than a little black bag.  With that, I'm pleased to announce that I have teamed up with and basically designed a wooden box for the stick to live in, with one of the foremost woodworking talents in Kansas City.  He does have an ETSY shop, with very little activity however, which is in no way a reflection of his work.  It's simply a matter of having too much local demand for custom work, it's a good problem to have.  I provided him with my thoughts only and am otherwise leaving it in his capable hands, I can't wait to see what he comes up with.  More to come on Craig.

So there you have it... housekeeping is now closed.

Have a great week!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Countdown Begins

Good Friday Morning,

4,985... 15 to go, I think I called it about right when I said we'd hit the big number sometime in late February, we're getting there!

So for those of you that are old enough to remember Paul Harvey (a radio broadcast announcer who famously coined the term "Now, for the rest of the story"), here's how it all came about.

A few postings back you'll see that I threw in the towel on attempting to do anything on the 5,000th sale.  With all that we have going on, and there is a lot of stuff going on, I realized that there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do a commemorative set and display case of some sort.  Concurrently, I had been corresponding with Samantha (Sammi), on designing her custom order.  We had been chatting off and on about different design ideas for several weeks, and it was very early on in the process when I realized that she is much more talented than I am when it comes to actual artwork design.  Man, she's wicked good!

Well, shortly after I made the blog announcement, apparently my idea of throwing in the towel just didn't seem acceptable to Sammi.  So, on her own volition, she took it upon herself to design just one stick to commemorate the 5,000th sale, and she did good.  As often happens however, I decided to use her design, but kick it up a notch.  The test dowel rod just came out of the laser, and it's a winner.  So thank you Sammi for all that you did, I clearly couldn't / wouldn't have done it without you.

I still don't have a final count on the number of inlays, but I'll start counting when I actually start tackling the stick, which will begin this weekend. 

Once it's completed, I'll post pictures here, and after we officially record the 5,000th sale on ETSY, the stick is going to EBAY.  Now I've never really been a big fan of EBAY, other than watching Gray Dog's sticks (the master hair stick maker when I first began, selling on EBAY), some of which were selling for incredible numbers, it was fun to watch.  Now I know it's probably a foolish concern that I have, but I've always felt uneasy about the "reserve price" (the minimum price) that needs to be set on an EBAY listing.  If I set the reserve price to low, then there could be the appearance that I think it's a lesser quality stick, and if I set it too high, I could come off as arrogant.  It's still a concern I have today, but I've figured out a way around my concern so I don't have to deal with the reserve price.

So Sammi, come on back, you get to set the price.  You see, as far as I'm concerned, the 5,000th stick never would have come to fruition without your help and gentle nudging.  Since I'm all about giving credit where credit is due, through your efforts, you've earned yourself a free stick, anything of your choosing (any off the shelf design, not a custom, because I need to know in advance of the EBAY listing what the retail price is of whatever stick you choose).  So, grab yourself a cup of coffee, go to the sold section on ETSY and pick a stick, because the retail price of whatever stick you pick will be the reserve price set on EBAY.  For example, if you choose a full body paua with a normal retail price of $150, that will then become the reserve price on EBAY.

OK, now for a few details, or should I say, a bunch of details:

The stick will be... Ebony, 6.5", with the following inlays, in no specific order:

Up to 30 different freshwater pearl inlays
Some leafs and extreme pearlessence
Blue / Gold Goldstone
Blue Apatite
Green Goldstone
Blue Goldstone
Green Turquoise

All set on an underlayment of Natural, Purple, Red, Green, Blue and Teal paua... pretty much as previously described as all of TT in one stick.

So there's the rest of the story, thank you again Sammi, you rock!

Have a great weekend, hopefully my next posting will be the finished stick.



Good Saturday Morning,

Sammi has selected her stick, and I'll post pictures of it here when it's finished so everyone can see the stick that set the reserve price on EBAY.  Quite predictably, she chose an expensive stick.  Heck, can anyone blame her?

On another note, I've started on the stick, and I have my first count.  17.  This is the number of pieces of paua that were individually cut and wrapped on a 45 degree bias, forming the underlayment which will ultimately be engraved, inlaid and finished.  I can say unequivocally that this is the most challenging stick I've ever attempted, my Holy Grail so to speak.  Thus far, the underlayment alone has taken me just under 5 hours, and the real work hasn't even begun yet, and this was the easy part.  I've even had to pull out from under all kinds of stuff an old burned up lathe (I'm on number 6 currently), and set it up in a separate area in anticipation of a multi-day inlay.

Have a great Saturday, I'll continue to update on this posting until I'm ready to either post Sammi's stick, or the 5,000th stick.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Polling Question

Good Morning,

We're 22 away from 5,000, and I've got yet another idea.  The original idea was not my own, and I fully intend to provide more details as we get closer to 5,000. 

I'm going to be making one stick to commemorate our 5,000th sale, and it will be posted on EBAY. (assuming of course that I can remember how to post something on EBAY).  It's going to be all of Timberstone Turnings in one stick.  I lost count of the numbers of inlays and individual pieces, and I'll have a final count once it's done, but the final number will exceed 100 pieces/parts.  It's going to be a monster to create, and will likely take me several days to bring it to life.  I'll post photos of it here in advance of posting on EBAY so you can get a sneak peak.

So my poll question is simply this, what length do I make it?

Please comment here as opposed to an ETSY conversation so everyone see's the same thing I'm seeing.  I'll probably start building it towards the end of the week.  Keep in mind that lengths are all over the board with requests ranging from 4" to 10", so please try to suggest a good "average size" to see if we can come up with a consensus.

Thanks, and I appreciate any input you may have.



I've spent the last couple of hours thinking (while working) about this stick and how in the world am I going to put it all together.  This led me to thinking through our process of posting sticks to Facebook and me wanting to mention the 5,000th stick.  We have both the Timberstone Turnings page, as well as the personal page.  As you know, Erin does all of the pictures and postings, and I attempt to post them to Facebook, in those instances when I actually remember to do so. 

In any event, it finally occurred to me that the vast majority of my Facebook personal "Friends" in all likelihood have absolutely no clue what they're looking at when I post a stick.  Since a picture tells a thousand words, I'm going to add a section to the blog with action shots, that I can somehow link to Facebook.  I know there are no shortage of your action shots floating around, and I won't copy and post them here without your specific permission.  So, if anyone is interested on being on the "Action Shot" section, please send me a pic thru ETSY, and if you have it handy, a link to the original posting.  Finally, if you want to be identified, and if so, which name do I use... in the absence of a full wall flow chart, I can't keep them all straight :)

Thanks to those that have already replied, it's sounding like 6.5" is the ticket for now. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Recent Conversations

Good Morning,

Over the past few days I've had some interesting conversations (at least for me) with a couple of different customers and I'd like to share the essence of the conversations with you.

My Daily Gift

The 1st conversation had to do with wood selection. The customer was vacillating between a few different woods and asked if we could send her pictures of the wood blanks so she could get a better idea of how they look.  It's a perfectly reasonable request, one that we've had countless times before.  It was at that point that I realized that every day that I receive multiple gifts, think of it as unwrapping a present.  As I explained to her, there is very little correlation between what a roughed out 3/4" x 3/4" x 8" piece of wood looks like in relation to what the stick will actually look like on the inside.  Similar to unwrapping a present, I never know what the stick will look like until I've peeled away the wrapping paper (the excess wood).  Now don't get me wrong, I'm pretty good at reading grains, and over the years I've set aside hundreds if not thousands of blanks because the grain is too unruly, to the point of being dangerous.  Highly figured grains are truly beautiful, until the grain abruptly changes direction, and decides to explode on the lathe at 3,000 rpm.    So my point here is that I'm truly blessed, as I'm the only one that gets to unwrap 2 or 3 mini-presents every day, doing a job that I love.

** Case in  Point - As a good hearted poke at Willowyn, I was in the process of making a spec stick consisting of all the things that she so eloquently pointed out that she doesn't like... it was a memorable and special conversation, I don't think I've laughed so hard in years.  Well, as luck would have it, the grain on this stick is simply too beautiful, I would only ruin it by engraving it.  The grain on the top of the stick is unbelievable... if you're anywhere near the grain freak that I am.

Design Elements

Yes, I saw LHC, and Willowyn's question... she's the greatest!  In her own special way thru a recent conversation, she explained the errors of my ways.  It's regarding designs at both the top and bottom of the stick, Tree of Life and Seashell designs specifically.  The question being, should the designs align, or be offset by 180 degrees.  It would appear that I now have an additional question to ask on custom orders, and a new way of thinking on spec sticks.  As background, for years I have always "stopped the presses" half way through the engraving and rotated the stick so that the design is offset.  I remember long ago a customer had requested that the design be offset so that the tree could be seen on either end of the stick regardless of the position in her hair.  That was when I formed the habit, because the design actually does align, but it was me doing the rotating, I just assumed that was the way everyone wanted it, apparently I assumed incorrectly, but it's an easy fix.

The other design question, again from Willowyn, is the space between the design and the end of the stick.  This is where it gets into the "iffy" category.  If you think through the mechanics, yes there actually mechanics involved in a hairstick, let me try to explain.  In the absence of the stick being a petite (<.50" at it's widest point), the top of the stick is usually in the .55" - .65" diameter neighborhood.  I usually end the upper design approximately .25" -  .30" from the end of the stick.  If I bring it closer to the end, it looks crowded to my eye, and if it's much wider, it looks like a mistake, again, to my eye.   So, with the top of the stick being dimensionally wide, I can make the inlays virtually as deep as I want, with no fear of the stick breaking. 

The foot on the other hand is a different animal.  Again, back to the mechanics... I typically end the design closer to .50" from the tip of the foot and begin the taper to what I call the landing zone.  The diameter of the stick when I begin the taper is approximately, .35" to .40" and I need to taper the landing zone to zero... the tip of the stick.  In order to balance the distance on the top and the foot, I would need to begin the taper higher up on the stick, which isn't a problem until it comes to the inlay.  To maintain the same distance to the end of the foot as the top, I would be engraving a diameter of +/-.25".  I engrave to a depth of approximately .08" - .10", thereby reducing the sticks diameter on the inside of the engraving to approximately .15", and that's a guaranteed break.  In order to maintain the sticks integrity, I never allow the internal diameter to dip below .25".   The only other alternative to maintain an equilateral distance, and the integrity of the stick would be a landing zone taper from .40" to zero in the space of .25", in other words it would be an extremely blunt tip, and unless I'm wrong again, no one wants a blunt tip.

I have no idea whether this makes any sense or not, and if it doesn't, that's ok... you'll just have to trust me on this one.

Thank you Willowyn and my other un-named customer, it's these kind of conversations that only make me better!

Have a great day!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Friday Night Sale and a few other things...

Good Morning,

We'll be holding another Friday Night Sale this Friday 2/12/16 beginning at 1:00 CST (US), assuming we still have sticks in inventory.  As of this writing, we have 6 sticks in inventory, and it's Wednesday morning, plus I have 2.5 more days of sticks to make, so in theory we should have inventory for the sale.

So I have some good news, or bad news, depending upon your perspective.  Last month I announced that I was going to create a 5,000th commemorative set of sticks to celebrate our little milestone.  Well, that plan looked much better on paper than it does in reality, once again I bit off more than I can chew.  The fact of the matter is that I work between 16-18 hours per day just to produce 2-4 sticks, depending upon the complexity.  I don't know where exactly I was planning on finding the time to build a display case and stock it full of sticks, I must have been dreaming that I could somehow add hours to the clock, sleep less or work harder, because those plans aren't working.  So our 5000th sale will be celebrated just like all the others, maybe a small toast and then back to work.  In theory, I still think it was a good idea, but the reality is something entirely different, I hope you understand.

Finally, we received a new shipment of Paua so we're fully stocked.  We've got all kinds of space available on the custom list if anyone is interested.

Have a great rest of the week, and thank you again for your continued support and understanding.