Inside-Out Ornament Tutorial #1: How to Make an Inside-Out Ornament

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Blog entry by Donna Menke posted 01-10-2012 12:32 AM 4446 reads 6 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have wanted to try to make one of these ornaments ever since I first saw them. They are so interesting, and everyone asks- “how did you do that”? I had trouble understanding a lot of the how-to descriptions, and even the videos were hard to follow. I found this one tutorial that I thought was good, and after about the 10th read-through I thought I’d grasped the concept.”
One of the first things I did was to make a plan- here is a refinement:

This way I could really see the relationship between what was removed on the inside and what on the outside. The solid line is the plan, the dotted line is the result you see in the finished project.
First I turned some finials as a warm-up exercise.

I used some pen blanks (4) in tulip for the body and bloodwood (1) for the finials. I was not as careful as I should have been to make sure they were perfectly square for the body. I did make sure the meeting surfaces were flat and square with the jointer before I glued them up. I applied glue just to the ends of the blanks so I could free the blanks by cutting off the ends. After gluing I mounted the body blank between centers and used the pattern from the plan to measure the proper depth for the interior.

You can see the terrible tear-out I got when trying to make the top of the hearts. I finally gave up before I ruined the whole thing and just made a pleasing lenticular shape. Be sure to sand and apply finish to this cut before removing the blank from the lathe

After cutting off the ends I glued the blanks 2 at a time to make sure I got the center in the center. I used the arrow technique in the above mentioned tutorial and it helped me a lot.

When the block was glued back together the nasty tear-out was hidden inside.

I experimented a little to see how I thought the outside should look, before I started to turn it.

I made some nice big marking to guide me so that I would end up where I thought I wanted to be.

And then I turned it round first. So much fun to be able to see through the wood as it spinned.

When the corners were all turned away I had to redo the lines for the details.

Cutting in to define the innies and outies.

Refining the surfaces.

I chickened out and finished shaping with some 80 grit sandpaper. It would have broken my little heart to get a catch that would ruin the project. Sandpaper is safer.

Sanding on the cut-out edges makes it look nicer. Use some rounded paper for the rounded ends.

Once the sanding has been complete through 600 grit then it is time to clean up and apply the finish. this is when the beauty of the wood really ‘pops’.

Here I’m seeing if switching the orientation of the finials would be better.

I thought I was going good to drill a hole for the screw-eye, but I didn’t make it big or long enough and my pliers helped me to twist it right off- leaving the metal in the end. Oy veh!

No way to remove it, but I had been thinking that the top finial was a bit long, so I just cut off that last knob, did some hand sanding, and did it again with a bigger drill bit and made sure it was deep enough.

Et Voila! The completed ornament after buffing with the Beall Wood Buff System and assembly with cyanoacrylic glue. I think it looks even better with the addition of the red ribbon touches. What do you think?

Thanks for looking and I’d really appreciate any suggestions for making the process easier or the results better.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

6 comments so far

View Pimzedd's profile


639 posts in 5157 days

#1 posted 01-10-2012 01:52 AM

Very nice Donna.

Thanks for the blog. Will have to give this a try.

-- Bill - Mesquite, TX --- "Everything with a power cord eventually winds up in the trash.” John Sarge , timber framer and blacksmith instructor at Tillers International school

View Darell's profile


439 posts in 4609 days

#2 posted 01-10-2012 02:27 AM

Very nice. Inside out ornaments are on my list for the coming year. Thanks for posting.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View sras's profile


5883 posts in 4144 days

#3 posted 01-10-2012 04:14 AM

A really good blog – and a nice ornament too!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4091 days

#4 posted 01-10-2012 02:55 PM

Good stuff!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 4210 days

#5 posted 01-10-2012 03:02 PM

Excellent blog Donna, I’ve been wanting to make these for some time for my wife’s family.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3855 days

#6 posted 01-11-2012 02:58 AM

very nice. This is one of my favorite ways to turn. Thanks for posting.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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