Intro: Pallet Wood Finial Using the Benchtop Spring Pole Lathe
Desperate to use the lathe I made recently I decided to spruce up the shed a little by making a decorative finial to attach to the apex. It's by no means a polished piece but it is the first actual product I've made with my lathe and I learned a lot! Any advice would be greatly appreciated though.
As always there's a video on my YouTube channel documenting the process and I'll go into more detail on how I made the finial below. I hope you enjoy it!
Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed
- Pencil, rule and combination square
- Mallet and chisel
- Turning chisels (I used a gouge mostly)
- Dividers or compass
- A lathe (electric or traditional)
- Wood saw (rip saw and tenon saw preferably)
- Hand plane
- Lubricant to help the wood turn in the lathe (I used a beeswax mixture)
- 4 lengths of pallet wood, 40cm X 8cm X 1.5cm (15 3/4" X 3 1/8" X 9/16")
- Wood glue
- 3 screws to attach to apex
- Outdoor finish
Step 2: Cutting and Gluing of Pallet Wood Blank
I used 4 pieces of pallet wood at around 40cm (15 3/4") long each and glued them together. I left them overnight and then used a combination square to find the width of the shortest side. Using a combination square I then took that measurement and transferred it to the longer side of the blank. I then cut down that line making a square shaped blank.
Step 3: Initial Shaping of the Blank
With the blank now in a square shape I could draw a line from corner to corner on each end and find the centre point. Its important to do this before you start shaping the blank as its easier to find the centre when it's square shaped. I poked a screw in the centre and then used some dividers to mark a circle on each end which showed the largest diameter of the finished piece.
Putting it in the vice I then used a scrub plane to take the edges down close to the circle shape which made the blank almost hexagonal. I then used a little lubricant on each point to make sure it would spin freely in the lathe.
Step 4: Shaping the Finial
Now this is where my instructions will be shady and vague because I simply just made this shape up as I went along. I knew I wanted the finished finial to be around 30cm (11 13/16") long and that I wanted the top to come to a point. I used a gouge almost entirely and especially to make the concave sections. When I was ready to make the point I used a parting tool to make a thin and deep cut near where I wanted the point to be. I then used the gouge to slowly step down to the point, shaping it as I went.
Step 5: Final Sanding and Shaping
When I turned as much as I could (or as much as I was brave enough to do) I took the tool rest out of the way and used a piece of sandpaper whilst turning the finial to get a nice smooth finish. I cut the end of and used a chisel and sandpaper to get a more refined point.
Step 6: Cutting a Rebate to Fit the Shed
I held the finial up against the apex and used a pencil on a block of flat wood to mark the outline of the apex. Using a saw and chisel I then cut the rebate out and fitted a screw in the bottom of the finial. Two more screws would come from the back of the top of the apex into the finial. I figured this would make the screws almost invisible on the finial so as to not ruin the look.
Step 7: Finishing and Fitting the Finial to the Shed and Admiring It!
I didn't really have any kind of outdoor appropriate finish but I really wanted to see what the grain looked like so I used some beeswax and mineral oil mixture to check it out, I wasn't disappointed! I then got up on my ladder and screwed the 3 screws in and checked it was solid.
I really enjoyed this project and I'm so happy that my lathe works as I hoped it would. I still have a lot more to learn about turning but I think this was a good start and I learned a lot.