Finial for sign post - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-14-2010, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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Finial for sign post

I am new to forums to so I hope this is right. I am a manufacturer-artist of carved and routed wood and HDU signs. I have been buying finials to cap my sign post and out of a sense of pride I would like to make them myself. I have a 48 inch craftsmen wood lathe so I'm all up on trying to make them myself. Does anyone have any advise to offer on how to do this. One of the stumbling blocks has been on where to get a good size blank in a cylinder shape. Does anyone know of a good supplier for wood lathe blanks? You can see my woodwork and signs at

Mark D.

Last edited by carvedwoodsign; 08-14-2010 at 09:34 AM. Reason: mistake
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-14-2010, 09:37 AM
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I'm a little curious as to why you would want a cylindrical shaped blank. If you have the lathe and are going to make your own finials, roughing out a square blank is part of the process and would also provide you with the means to practice essential basic techniques of wood turning. Don't skip the roughing gouge stage. If you are new to wood turning, skipping this important stage could rob you of skills that you will need later in turning your finials.

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post #3 of 8 Old 08-14-2010, 09:46 AM Thread Starter
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Well honestly I'm a real newbie to wood turning and I guess it shows, What do you guys do? glue up blanks or do you start with a small log.
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-14-2010, 08:10 PM
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Look for local sawyers it seems to me that shipping pieces large enough might get cost prohibitive.

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post #5 of 8 Old 08-14-2010, 08:14 PM
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-14-2010, 09:33 PM
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I started by gluing up blanks. It's all I knew to do. Then I gradually found sources for thicker lumber when I wanted to do table legs and such. You may have to call around to find places that sell 2x2, 3x3, 4x4 etc. It's hard to find anything thicker than 3 1/2x 3 1/2. You really have to search for those.
What I do now is cut up logs. I cut the log down to a size that will fit my bandsaw and about 24 to 36" long. I try to see how many square blanks I can get out of it. I start with 4x4 then I'll cut some 3x3, 2x2, 1 1/2x 1 1/2 and even 1x1. I seal the ends with wax that I melt in an old electric skillet. I put these on the floor of the shop under some shelves. It takes a while for these to dry but after doing this for a few years I'm starting to get a pretty good stash of dry blanks.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-03-2010, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Fellows

Thanks for the response fellows,
I think I'm going to follow your advise and try to get some dry (aged) logs to shape and to carve. I have been turning most of my stuff on an old craftsman 48" wood lathe. But I have been experimenting with an indexer on my shopbot so I'll have to come up with blanks for it too. With the bot and an indexer you can really do some intricat wood carving on the round so I'm trying to figure it out. I made a stupid mistake the other day though an ran a thousand dollar spindle with 1/2 ballnose into a grade eight bolt on the end of the indexer and wiped out the bearings in the spindle, needless to say this was an expensive lesson learned.

Again Thanks for the advise,
Mark Di Saverio
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post #8 of 8 Old 09-08-2010, 12:43 AM
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Maybe this is bad, but I liked reading your post about wiping out the bearings on your machine. It makes me happy I'm not the only one that makes really expensive mistakes.

The size of your finial will make a big difference in what material you use. The main reason stock larger than 3 1/2" are hard to find is that the larger sizes are very hard to keep from checking and splitting. Any larger than 3 1/2" and you'll need to laminate. Even with high quality kiln dried wood, checking will be a problem with the really thick stuff.

Here's a 7" diameter balltop finial we made for a customer in Brooklyn, NY out of Port Orford Cedar. Notice the lamination:

Here's an example of a 3" balltop made of solid Douglas Fir. This works better if it is to be stained.
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Last edited by westernspindle; 09-08-2010 at 12:50 AM.
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