Turning wooden eggs for Easter has become a fun tradition for me. Once you get the hang of it they go quickly and you can use scraps of wood you might have around the shop. They are also a fun thing to give as gifts. I hope to be able to give a new one to my family members each year for many years to come. The following instructions walk through how I made 1 egg. The video above shows how I made 4 additional eggs, all of them unique in their own way.
Step 1: Tools and Wood Prep
To start with you will only need a few items. It is best to have a 2" round blank that is about ~5" long. I find a plastic egg is very useful as a reference shape. You will also need a 4 jaw chuck with medium size jaws and a set of calipers set to the closing diameter. Cut a tenon, using the calipers to get the diameter right. Start about .5" away from the tenon and, using the plastic egg, mark out the proportions of the egg. This helps me to get a balanced egg. Lastly you can either part off the extra wood or cut it off on a bandsaw. I always leave a little bit of extra wood because it is better to have too much wood then wish you had it latter on.
Step 2: Shaping the Top of the Egg
Always start on the right side of the egg and work towards the chuck side. If you try to do both sides at once you will get ahead of yourself and the egg will break off before you have finished shaping and sanding it (personal experience). Again, I use the plastic egg to guide to curves. Try to keep the line for the max ID location intact until you start sanding because this helps remind you of where the curves should flatten out. Once I am happy with the general shape on the right I START the bottom of the egg (as shown above). I do this to aid in sanding. Go through all the different sanding steps complete to final sanding and finish if you use one. I decided for this egg I was also going to burn some lines into the egg. I start by scoring to lines on the egg to keep the wire in place. The wire setup that I use was purchased from Harbor Freight and was intended to be used to cut plastic pipes I believe. I like it because it has handles and is plenty long. By simply resting the wire in a groove a pulling slightly (while the wood is turning of course) the friction of the wire will begin to burn the wood. My only aim is to get a black mark so I don't continue once it starts smoking.
Step 3: Profile Help
Just in case you are having a hard time getting a profile that you are happy with I would suggest using contour gauge if you have one. This will allow you to see right where your curves are deviating from your model, which in my case is a plastic Easter egg. Once you have made several eggs this aid will probably not be needed.
Step 4: Color and Cutoff
I also like to add some color to my eggs. Using an old craft marker I lightly press it against the band I formed while the lathe is spinning. After I stopped the lathe and looked at the color I decided it was too bold and lightly sanded it with 400 grit sand paper to get it a worn and weathered look.
Once you are completely happy with the right side of the egg you can now start focusing on the final shaping of the egg bottom. I generally do this in 2 or 3 phases of cutting and sanding. I will cut down until only a .5" stub connects the egg to the lathe. I will sand the freshly cut surface and then cut down to 1/8" diameter. After this is also sanded I reach around the back of the lathe and support the egg with my left and while I part off with my right hand.
Step 5: Finaly Touches
As you can see there is only a small nub left when the egg finally breaks off. Go through all the sanding steps by hand to remove this last little piece. If done correctly you will not even be able to tell that it was finished differently then the rest of the egg surface. I like to finished all my eggs with a coat mineral oil. Mineral oil, or butcher block oil, tends to deepen colors and produce a more finished final look. For best results this project should be repeated about 14 times, or enough to generate a colorful bowl of Easter eggs that would look great displayed on anyone's table! Thank you for looking, if you would like to see more of my work please check out:
Runner Up in the
Egg Contest 2016