Chair Spindles

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Blog entry by dustbunny posted 06-09-2009 12:27 AM 2994 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A friend of mine is refinishing an antique chair. There were four spindles on the back of the chair, all of which were broken. When he found out I had just bought a lathe, he asked if I thought I would be able to replicate the broken spindles. After getting the broken spindles, I thought it would be a piece of cake, they are a simple pattern. Pattern being a key word that I only figured out after turning four trash, not even close to being the same, spindles.

I made a dimensional drawing on sketch up after putting my calipers on the transitional diameters, and measuring lengths.!

I turned round four 10” pieces of hard maple to 7/8” diameter, then laid the length dimensions on the blank. With a parting tool I turned down the diameters at the intersections of transition.

The rest was easy. I turned the spindle down to join the diameters at the intersections, and left about an 1 1/2” at the ends so my friend would have extra length. Since the spindles were broken at the tenons I didn’t know the actual length. Did this three more times, and all four spindles look identical.

Once I figured out how to tackle this project the rest was easy. It took me about 3 hours (I’m a little slow). The last spindle was about 30 minutes, I did pick up speed as I went. My friend is going to put the finish on and he said he would take a picture for me to see the completed project. I will post the pic when I get it.

Thanks for looking,


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

7 comments so far

View degoose's profile


7259 posts in 3888 days

#1 posted 06-09-2009 12:33 AM

I wish I could turn as quickly as you. or turn at all. Another skill to master or at least become goodish at, LOL

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Jim's profile


254 posts in 4178 days

#2 posted 06-09-2009 12:34 AM

Nice job and thanks for the cool tip! I have to do something very similar in the coming weeks.

-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View jack1's profile


2131 posts in 4561 days

#3 posted 06-09-2009 03:36 AM

They look really good. I need to learn my lathe…

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View kenn's profile


813 posts in 4253 days

#4 posted 06-09-2009 07:10 AM

Nice job, it’s not that hard to turn one of something… it is another story entirely to turn multiples and have them look like an existing piece. You did a great job…I’m sure your friend will appreciate it.

-- Every cloud has a silver lining

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 4015 days

#5 posted 06-09-2009 02:51 PM

You were at an advantage in that all of the spindles had to be replaced, so if they weren’t exactly the same as the originals, then no one would know. But you did a great job, replicating is a very difficult thing to do.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3829 days

#6 posted 06-09-2009 10:14 PM

I breathed a big sigh of relief when he said they were all broken, you are right about that. It left me open to turning basically four of any pattern. I was also glad it wasn’t an intricate pattern that needed to be duplicated.
By the way, the original spindles were carved by hand on some of the originals the tool marks are faintly visible, now that’s amazing.


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View jack1's profile


2131 posts in 4561 days

#7 posted 10-13-2009 08:45 PM

Nice job. I really should try turning too. I have an old Armstrong Lathe in the corner but haven’t had it running for lack of interest. I’m still mastering the table saw…

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

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