I was visiting family recently and I really liked the metal napkin rings that had on the diner table. Being the wood turner that I am, I figured they looked easy enough to make on my own. The great thing about making wooden napkin rings is that it can be done on any size lathe with any skill level. I choose a very simple profile but the design is only limited by your imagination!
Step 1: Materials and Basic Setup
The basic materials that I used was a ~2" diameter 9"+ dowel, 1 3/8 forester bit and a spindle support. The spindle support allowed me to work on the far end of the dowel with more confidence. If you don't have a spindle support no problem, you can just work on shorter sections. Once each ID was drilled I removed the spindle support.
Step 2: Drilling Out the ID
My goal was to have the finished length of each napkin ring be 2" so I wanted to drill the hole slightly deeper than that. I measured my forester bit and if I drilled until you couldn't see the drill bit anymore it was 2 1/4". Once the hole was finished I placed my live center back on the lathe and pressed that into the hole I just drilled. This should insure that the ID is on the same axis as the OD and provide great support while shaping. I also used a depth gauge in the hole I just drilled and transferred that depth to the outside. I will want to end up cutting off to the right of that line.
Step 3: Shaping
Using a calipers I measured how big I wanted OD to be on the ends of the final product. I then used that setting to cut down to that diameter for both ends. I also took a second calipers and measured the diameter of the middle. I used this on each of the follow on rings to make sure they all looked similar. Once I was happy with the overall shape I backed off the tail stock and sanded the outside and inside of the ring. I choose to use bee's wax for this project because it produces a soft finish and is completely food safe. Once the bee's wax was applied it was time to part off the ring. Using one hand to control a small skew I used my other hand to catch the ring once it was parted.
Once parted off, the ring can be set aside. You will probably notice that the end you just cutoff doesn't look as nice as the end you just sanded and waxed, this end will be finished on all 4 rings as the last step.
Step 4: Final Touches
Repeat the drilling and shaping steps until you get to the end of your dowel. With all 4 napkin rings almost finished you are ready for the final touches. One of the great things about wood turning is that you can make a lot of the jigs and fixtures that you need! I made a simple jam chuck so I could tap the finished end of the ring on and be able to safely sand the unfinished end. I would recommend getting the OD of the jam chuck as close to the ID diameter of the unfinished end of the ring as possible. I started by sizing it to the finished end and due to sanding each piece is a little bit different. It doesn't take too much force to hold the ring in place during sanding and if it begins to slide off simply tap it back in place. Once you are done sanding and waxing you are done! I liked being able to one piece of wood to make all 4 rings because you can see the grain pattern change over the course of the 4 pieces.
In conclusion, these rings where a great quick project that produced a set of napkin rings that I am proud to place on my table. This is a great project that can use small off cuts (as in this case) and scraps from other projects. I think this would be something that beginner could handle well and a pro could also enjoy. Thank you for reading through and have a great day!