20 January 2012

Home Altar: Making a Column Part II.


Once the blank is turned to a cylinder, it is time to begin adding the details.  Turning the details into wood is a little bit like Michelangelo carving a statue:  You are releasing the form encased within the wood. It is simply a matter of removing the wood that doesn't belong.

The first thing to do is laying out the position of the details, and then take the wood down to the proper diameter..  The details are marked out with a pair of dividers, and the diameter is measured with a pair of calipers.

The dividers leave grooves in the wood.  I have darkened the grooves with a pencil for the purposes of the photo.
 The process is continued over all the details.

Once the details are roughed in, the beads are rounded over, and the cove is cut. The cardinal rule when turning decorations is to always. always go from the high to the low.  That way, you will be following the grain. 

With the top of the column complete, it is now time to begin turning the central column.  Its straight lines actually make this the most difficult part of the entire piece.  As with the beads and coves, it begins with bring the piece down to the correct diameter at key points, and then remove the rest of the wood.

The knot was a problem, but it came out fine.  It is not as prominent as it was before, and I am not so concerned about hiding it.

With the central cylinder turned, it is time to repeat the process with the base details.

Lastly, the piece is sanded to smooth out the roughness, and bring it to its final shape.

Whenever possible, I like to wait at least a day before I decide that a piece is finished.  Using a treadle lathe is tiring, and it is only too easy to say "good enough" for a piece.  Now with the first one done, there is only three more to go, but at least this one may be used as a model.

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