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Thread: Cypress Porch Balusters

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI

    Cypress Porch Balusters

    Last fall I had a customer come to me in need of 60 spindles for a porch that was in bad shape. The house is in a historical district, and all work/renovation must be "as close to the original as possible". Of course, I love this kind of work, but at the same time I had been dreading the thought of having to deal with 2 perpendicular pommels on a softwood spindle. The due date was set for the end of March, and a few weeks ago it was time to face the music. Fortunately once I got into it I realized it wasn't as problematic as I thought it would be. But I still couldn't make a false move, cuz that dern cypress is unforgiving stuff (there's a few 'oops' spindles in the burn pile).

    - Hutch
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Balusers 1.jpg   Balusters 2.jpg  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Very nice work Hutch! I'd be nervous about turning those as well.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
    Wow nice job!

    Did you do all of those freehand?

    And if so - any tips/tricks you used to get them so spot on?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    Those look great Hutch, but I think the third one from the right is a bit thicker on top. I can't imagine working thru all those...Well Done!
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Bedford, NH
    They look great. Once you are set up, how long does it take to complete a single spindle? I trust you use a template, so what material do you use for the template to stand up to that volume of work?
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Goodland, Kansas
    Looking good Hutch.
    Bernie W.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    S E Washington State
    Now, that right there is some fine talented turning!
    "We the People ......"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Reno, Nv
    Nice work Hutch!! In your neck of the woods you have some great job security!
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    Good stuff as always,Hutch. I'm sure your customer was/will be pleased.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Bower View Post
    Those look great Hutch, but I think the third one from the right is a bit thicker on top. I can't imagine working thru all those...Well Done!
    No, no no! It's the fifth one from the left, and it's thicker on the bottom.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Thanks all!

    Ryan - I turned these all freehand. I used a masonite story stick for layout, and three calipers settings to part specific diameters.....pretty typical stuff. Good cutting technique is absolutely imperative, but another key issue for speed and accuracy is order of procedure. If you cut the wrong elements at the wrong time you can give yourself headaches. Also, you have to have control and power while remaining fluid in your movement. Don't white knuckle it or you'll only last a couple hours (and keep your legs and body relaxed too). As for making them identical, your eye naturally makes the given elements look the same after you turn a few. In fact, your eye will even know when you should stop at certain diameters. By the end I probably could have turned one within 1/32" at any point without using calipers. That just sorta happens on its own.....and it's pretty cool.

    Al - No real template per se, just a story stick and calipers. Time it took: From the stack of blanks to completed and off the lathe I got them down to about 8.5 minutes each at my fastest. (I only worked at this pace for a few of the hours.) Under ten was the more typical time.

    As to the variation in thickness, I blame wood movement. I milled them all at the same time, but some of them warped ever so slightly. It's also the lighting. It's the light's fault....that's it.

    - Hutch
    Last edited by Matt Hutchinson; 04-03-2013 at 01:58 AM.

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