how to turn christmas ornaments - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-01-2011, 11:26 PM Thread Starter
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how to turn christmas ornaments

so I've seen several pictures of christmas ornaments and thought they'd be good sellers as well as gifts. I tried turning 2. and they both ended up destroyed. My question is. what's the process you guys go through to turn them? I tried getting a spindle round between centers and then chucked it and used the tailstock, created a taper of some sorts and then started shaping it, i wanted a point at the bottom of the ornament, so i was getting it close to the shape, and then turned the point just before the spur center, then backed away tailstock and continued. i continued and as soon as i touched the tool it blew up. the other time, i was trying to use the skew tool(i think i just suck at using the skew) and it went for a ride down the length of the ornament after it was all done. opinions? comments? thanks.

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post #2 of 10 Old 11-02-2011, 08:24 AM
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Here are so articles on turning ornaments that might help get you started.
http://www.woodturningonline.com/Turning/Turning_projects.php?catid=56
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post #3 of 10 Old 11-02-2011, 10:14 AM
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Are you trying solid ornaments or inside-out ornaments? My process for inside out is basically the same as what is on the woodturningonline website, with a few things I do differently when I make a finial and glue it on. I primarily use a 3/8" spindle gouge for all my ornaments, and I make sure it's freshly sharpened before getting into small details like the point of a finial. This takes some practice to get used to, and on the very fine detail work I use my finger on the back side for support.

Sounds like the problem you are having with your skew is you were either not riding the bevel or you were trying to turn uphill, at which point you will get a catch that will end up threading a portion of your spindle. John Lucas has some excellent videos up on this forum for using a skew that I've learned a lot from and use my skew much more now.

Hope this helps!

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post #4 of 10 Old 11-02-2011, 10:33 AM
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To get a point on the bottom simply sand it off the lathe. To turn solid ornaments between centers I basically turn all of the ornament except the very top and bottom. Then I turn smaller and smaller tenons on the top and bottom until I get nervous about them breaking and I pull them off the lathe.
I cut the tenons close to where I want the ornament to end using the bandsaw. Then I round over the top detail on the sander and sand the bottom detail to a point.
This is the fastest way to do them. When I use the chuck I turn the bottom finial with the tailstock in place. Then I remove it and turn the very bottom detail. then I sand this part. I then turn the rest of the ornament except for the very top which I leave about 3/8" thick at this point. I sand and apply finish to this area of the ornament. Then I turn off the top detail and hand sand the little nub left.
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-02-2011, 10:40 AM
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If you are turning the end of the ornament without the tailstock it is extremely important to put pressure on the wood opposite the bevel of the tool with your fingers. Then you have to be really light on the bevel and take light cuts. This keeps the wood from chattering. What usually happens if you don't do this is the wood tries to climb up the cutting edges and of course then goes into the cutting edge deeper and tears up your ornament.
I turn the finials left handed and support the wood with my right hand. This way I can work my way from the tailstock end toward the headstock very cleanly and keep supporting the wood with my right hand. I support the wood when sanding as well. My finials are quite thin and require this.
Using the skew takes practice. It is imperative to stay on the bevel and use a sharp tool.
Here is a sample of some of my hollow ball style of ornaments.
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-02-2011, 10:53 AM
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Keep in mind that if you use your finger to support the back side while you cut you have to watch the amount of pressure you use. The pressure from your finger should be the same as what the tool is putting on the spindle. If you find your finger getting hot then you are using too much pressure from your finger or the tool. Sharp tools really are key to this process.

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post #7 of 10 Old 12-18-2011, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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just realized that i never said thanks for all the valuable input in this thread. i'm going to try to do some of these ideas once i get back to the lathe. happy holidays.

-Tyler
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post #8 of 10 Old 09-28-2017, 10:37 PM
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Was searching for fancy turnings on an image search and this popped up. Thought I should bring it to the top of the forum again as the the information is helpful and the link has some stunning work on it!
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post #9 of 10 Old 09-29-2017, 09:41 AM
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I have seen rests for small finials made from a wood frame and two pieces of tight string made into a + to hold the end. John Lucas has good videos on the skew. It is probably the hardest to master but worth it. A good skew in skilled hands can leave a finish that needs no sanding!

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post #10 of 10 Old 09-30-2017, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pineknot_86 View Post
I have seen rests for small finials made from a wood frame and two pieces of tight string made into a + to hold the end. John Lucas has good videos on the skew. It is probably the hardest to master but worth it. A good skew in skilled hands can leave a finish that needs no sanding!

Indeed! I've never wanted to use skews but after giving it a shot man alive it's helpful! Definitely worth mastering.
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