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Thread: Need help with finishing a small spindle

  1. #1

    Need help with finishing a small spindle

    I was turning a small spindle for use as a tree ornament and recognized a problem that sent me searching the internet which in turn led me to this (previously unknown to me) forum.

    I don't know how to describe this exactly so I will give it my best, please be patient and ask questions.

    I was turning the ornament and realized that once I finished one end (tailstock end) that I would not be able to finish the headstock end of the spindle/ornament. What I did was to cut the headstock end really long and then put it into a chuck so that it was simply sticking out more like a faceplate than a spindle. I held my left hand behind it as I took EXTREMELY light cuts with my right and guided the cut with my left thumb. I then was trying to finish the long tapered end toward the chuck and the piece kept jumping around on me. I ended up doing the same at the headstock end up to the chuck as I had done on the other end and eventually got something like I wanted.

    I know this was not really safe but it worked in the short run. I would like to use a method that would be safer in the future but I haven't turned spindles this small before where both ends will be showing.

    I am thinking that I could use a cup center after I finish the tailstock end to help with support but I don't know.

    Any thoughts, questions, clarifications?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Orem, Utah
    Welcome aboard, Nathan! Nice to have you.

    I don't have a very good mental picture of the ornament you were turning (any chance that you could post a photo?) but here are a couple of ideas:

    1) Make the ornament in multiple pieces.
    If you're shooting for a single-piece ornament, this may defeat the purpose. But if you're using finials on the top or bottom, this may be the best way to go. It will even allow you to use contrasting woods. Each piece can be turned - or at least finished - with only headstock support (using a chuck). For each "joint", one piece would have a hole drilled into it and the other would have a tenon turned on the end that fits the hole.

    2) Make a "jam chuck".
    Depending on the ornament design, this could get tricky ... but the idea is to mount a large-ish piece of wood in your (scroll?) chuck and then form a hollow into which the entire finished end of the ornament can be "jammed". You can temporarily use tape if needed, to keep things in place while you finish the other end.

    I used both methods when turning my multi-piece [Volcano Shaker]. Maybe it will give you some ideas for your ornaments?

    In my [KMart ornaments] thread I don't show the making of the finials, but they were obviously made separately. Just another thought for ya.

    Again ... welcome! Let us know if you have any additional questions. I'm sure some of the other turners around here will have more/better answers for ya!

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