Tips for better spindle turning
Starting from square one: Turning a pommel
Most spindles start out as square blanks. To make the blank round, mount it on the lathe between the headstock and tailstock, and use the roughing gouge to reduce it to a cylinder.
If the finished spindle will retain a square segment, you'll need to first turn a pommel, the transition from square to round. Typically, pommels have either a beaded or lamb's-tongue (cove-and-bead combination) profile, shown at right. You can turn either profile with a spindle gouge, but we prefer a 1 3/8" skew chisel for beaded pommels because, when used correctly, it cuts cleanly with no tear-out.
Cutting pommels first gives you a safety net: Should you have a catch that damages the square portion, you can stop and flip the spindle end for end and start fresh. The torn-out miscue will disappear when you later turn that end into a cylinder. Begin by marking the top and bottom of the pommel with a pencil and square on all four faces. With your lathe running at about 1,350 rpm for a 3"-square blank, cut the pommel (ours is a bead) as shown right.
With the pommel finished, use the roughing gouge to turn the remaining spindle to the largest profile diameter.
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