Home / Step by Step
Starting with a very rough looking piece of half rotted Sycamore
(Courtesy of Richard, Thanks!)
The log is mounted in between centres on the lathe and then spun to see where the best centre point for the tail stock is, then re-adjusted to suit.
The shape of the log means that the ideal centre is well off the apparent centre.
The headstock end is driven with a 4 prong spur drive. This is set closer to the apparent centre as it will be the base for the finished object.
Rotating the log by hand to make sure it clears the tool-rest prior to switching on the lathe.
Beginning the roughing out, the lathe is turning at about 400 rpm, quite slow for a log this size, but the very uneven nature of it means that any faster and the lathe starts to shake, that is not desirable!
Continuing to cut material away from the log, note I am also holding the camera remote to take the shot and turning one handed and one wrist!
A tenon is now cut on the base, this will provide a grip for the chuck jaws when it is remounted for free turning
A semblance of form is now apparent on the piece and at this stage it will be left to dry for a few weeks as the wood is completely green and unsuitable for finishing.
A view of the darker wood from the exposed side of the log where the bark had been lost to the branch, note the darker colour of the wood here, Sycamore can show white and pale brown wood depending on the circumstances under which it seasons.
Two months later the wood has dried and is now ready to be turned into the final form, this will be a candlestick with a natural edged base.
Notice how it has changed colour too!
The whiter timber is freshly cut
After fining down the stem I begin to shape the head, at this stage I have no idea what the final shape will be, it will develop as I work my way down the stem, the main aim is to produce a pleasing shape that enhances the different colours and patterns in the grain.
The darker coloured wood is partially decayed and soft, this makes it a challenge to get a good finish, however sharp tools and careful cutting can overcome this.
After some thought and experimental cuts a design is fixed on and the basic outline is completed, all that remains is some finer cuts to refine the curves then sand the piece down to 400 grit.
After sanding a couple of coats of acrylic sealer are applied to the smooth surfaces, while a coat of finishing oil is applied to the rough areas of the natural edged section, a quick Jam chuck is then made and the piece is reverse fitted to enable the base to be finished off.
Prior to a final polishing with a buffing system.
The asymmetric shape of the base means that it needs to be fairly flat rather than deeply concave otherwise it may develop the very wobble such a cut is designed to prevent, only the central full circle section is slightly hollowed out to aid stability, also at this stage I realise I had not photographed the hollowing out of the actual candle holder! Sorry about that.
The finished Candlestick