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Tips for better spindle turning

Starting from square one: Turning a pommel
2 photos showing notches
Enlarge Image
Blue shirt at lathe,1
Enlarge Image
1. With the skew's toe pointed
down, touch the cutting edge
lightly to the wood 1/2" or so to
the right of the bottom mark, and
cut about 1/16" deep.
Blue shirt at lathe,1
Enlarge Image
2. Make a series of gradually
deeper cuts, repositioning the
skew about 1/16" closer to the
pommel's bottom mark each time.
Blue shirt at lathe,1
Enlarge Image
3. When you reach the bottom
mark, begin rolling the tool slightly
as you cut, using a clockwise rotation,
and ending with the tool at 90°.
Blue shirt at lathe,1
Enlarge Image
4. Make light shaving cuts until
you've cut a bead that begins at
the upper mark and ends in a
complete circle at the bottom mark.

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.

Continued on page 3:  Now set critical diameters with a parting tool


Comments (2)
gguess2285978 wrote:

The swing on the spindle gouge appears to be in the wrong direction. Could you check on this?

11/20/2014 08:55:34 PM Report Abuse
huntnigo73 wrote:

Thanks for the refresher course !

7/19/2014 05:52:21 AM Report Abuse

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