One of the fun things about studying woodworking at Palomar College is the urban wood recovery program that the campus runs. Instead of destroying trees that have to be removed from urban environments for various reasons (bug infestation, overgrowth and construction are some of the more common ones), Palomar can claim these trees and mill them down in order to provide wood for the students to use. Some of the urban lumber, as we refer to it, is strikingly beautiful, and one particular species is extremely rare: Torrey Pine.
Black Palm is a wood native to Southeast Asia that is characterized by very long and thick black vascular bundles. These bundles give Black Palm a very distinctive look when it is turned. Although the wood itself is quite hard, due to the size of these bundles, it’s very easy to get splits and splintering in the wood as it is turned (and especially when milling pen blanks). I’ve tried turning a couple of Black Palm pens in the past with little success. Because of the difficulty I’ve had working with the wood, I’ve dubbed it the unicorn.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.
- Steve Jobs
Sometimes when you look too hard for something, you miss it, even if it’s right in front of you. I know because it happened to me. But I’m getting ahead of myself; let’s rewind a little bit.
My name is Dustin Roberts, and I was born in Redondo Beach, California, where I grew up with my parents, my younger sister, and a dog (later, two of them). As far back as I can remember, I was fascinated with building things. From LEGOs to wooden train sets to model cars and airplanes, if the idea was to create something, I was all over it. For this reason, I found myself spending a lot of time with my dad in his workshop. It was (and still is) a modest workshop in a small single-car garage, but somehow we always managed to build whatever it was we were making. Some of my fondest memories come from spending evenings in the shop building racers for the Cub Scouts pinewood derby competitions. I never won, but I managed to come really close a couple of times.
It was more work that building a vintage Chippendale cabinet (ok, not really), but Roberts Woodcrafts now has a home on the internet! There’s still some behind-the-scenes tweaks and adjustments that need to be made, but I wanted to push the site out to all of you so that you can take a look, play around with it, and see what sort of stuff you can expect from Roberts Woodcrafts. If you see anything acting funny, please let me know.
The store is up and running, although inventory is currently limited to the stock of pens that I have made at this point. I will be expanding the product line very shortly – expect to see some fun new projects up for sale in the next couple of weeks. That said, take a look at the pens I have for sale. My stock on hand includes a couple of my all-time favorite pens. Buy them before I decide to keep them for myself!
Most of all, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me either by purchasing a pen or providing words of encouragement. I – and by extension, Roberts Woodcrafts – wouldn’t be here without you. So seriously, thanks!
Enjoy the site, and please visit again soon.
Welcome to Roberts Woodcrafts. If you’ve made it here, you’ve probably noticed that the site is still under construction. I’m working hard to get my site up and running, and with any luck, I should have it completed this weekend. Feel free to take a look around if you’d like, and I encourage you to visit again in the future once the site is completed. In addition to putting new items up for sale on a regular basis, I intend to use this blog to showcase all sorts of additional things – project plans (for your do-it-yourself types), sketches, updates on my adventures at Palomar College, and anything else that comes to mind.
Although my store isn’t set up to accept payments quite yet, if there’s something that has caught your eye, let me know and I would be happy to sell it offline.
Until next time,
The RWC Store is offline while I fix a couple of bugs. If you'd like to purchase an item, please contact me directly. Thank you! Dustin Roberts, Roberts Woodcrafts