My First Spindle Turning

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Project by Russel posted 01-12-2009 10:19 PM 1766 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I bought a small lathe a couple months back mainly because I wanted to turn pens. After watching the pen swap, it looked like a lot of fun. It is. However, since I’ve got the lathe and I primarily like to build furniture, I thought I might try my hand at turning a post for a small tea table. I made this one earlier, but didn’t have a lathe at the time, so I took a trick from CharlieM1958 and fiddled with the corners on the post.

Click for details

This current table is made out of ash, sits 26 inches tall and the top is 19 inches in diameter. It provided a few learning experiences.

First, was turning the post which is rather simple in design. The key for me was getting a reasonable shape and a little visual interest. It’s certainly no masterpiece, but it’s a start. I think I’ll make the next one a bit beefier as this one looks a bit fragile.

Second, was redoing the feet. I wasn’t happy with the earlier version because they seemed a bit over-powering. I’m more satisfied with the feet here; they seem to flow better.

Third was placing the feet. With only three, it meant making sure they were 120 degrees apart which gets a little tricky without an indexing lathe. But with a protractor, pencil and a good eraser I got them in the right place. Once the location was set, I needed to flatten each place so that the feet would fit flush against the post. It did this with a rasp and some sandpaper. I need to get better at this because a flat surface against a round surface doesn’t look as good as a flat surface against a flat surface.

Finally, the biggest challenge was mortising the post for the feet. Because there are only three feet instead of four, I could not cut the mortises before I did the turning (at least I don’t know how if you can). Thus I had to build a quick jig to hold the post in place while I ran it through my mortising machine. It’s not an easy thing to mortise into round stock. But, I got them done and they’re even straight.

There are quite a few skills I need to develop to work with round parts. Flat is so much easier, but round is very interesting. So here it is, my first table with a turned post.

-- Working at Woodworking

11 comments so far

View jnimz's profile


35 posts in 4398 days

#1 posted 01-12-2009 10:52 PM

Looks awesome, and let me tell you….you are your own worst critic. I’ve made several things so far that I personally would have elected to throw in the trash, but were “saved” by the encouragement of my wife. Well, those same things that were mistakes to me are cherished by the recipients of the items.

My biggest challenge at the moment is uniformity and symmetry of design.

-- Jace - - - --

View eklectic's profile


26 posts in 4741 days

#2 posted 01-12-2009 11:01 PM

Hi Russ,

this one looks a bit fragile. I would say delicate!

I really like it! I like the fact that it is not overworked!It really gives it a nice finish!

-- Eklectic, Follow my Bliss!

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4934 days

#3 posted 01-13-2009 12:04 AM

Russel, I think you’ve done a great job for you first attempt. On a constructive note, I think I would make the top of the legs a little narrower. They seem a little heavy when viewed with the delicateness of the spindle and the feet. Now do some more, you’re on your way.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 5049 days

#4 posted 01-13-2009 01:18 AM

Nice work on the turning there bud. The legs fit really well against the spindle.

After reading Thos’ comment I wonder how the legs would look if the centers were cut out. Im sure I could describe it better, but the brain is still cold from our shovelling. :-) You would keep the overall shape while at the same time making them more delicate to go with the spindle.

Just a thought.

-- BLOG -

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4911 days

#5 posted 01-13-2009 01:30 AM

Jnimz – Thanks. I am my own worst critic, but too often, I am also too forgiving. But the folks here keep me wanting to do better.

Lady Eklectic – Thank you as well. I think I like “delicate” better than “fragile”.

Mr. Angle – I really like the legs, so do you think they might look more balanced if I were to make the spindle thicker? I agree that they are a bit heavy, but I really like them.

Zuki – If you’re suggesting what I think you are, it sounds interesting. However, I can’t visualize an appropriate cutout. I’m definitely open to suggestions. And you don’t have to tell me about snow. My snowblower died last year so I’ve been pushing a shovel. Unfortunately, the trade-off for not having grass to mow in the summer is there is more snow to shovel in the winter. Oh my aching back.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 5049 days

#6 posted 01-13-2009 01:55 AM

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4911 days

#7 posted 01-13-2009 02:08 AM

Zuki, I just took a look at the link, but apparently, I was not thinking the same way you were. I was envisioning a “hole” in the wider part of the leg that followed the slope.

-- Working at Woodworking

View griff's profile


1207 posts in 4734 days

#8 posted 01-13-2009 05:15 AM

Very nice Russel. I really like this piece. Very good build.

-- Mike, Bruce Mississippi = Jack of many trades master of none

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4911 days

#9 posted 01-13-2009 12:56 PM

Thanks Griff. I appreciate the comment.

-- Working at Woodworking

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4846 days

#10 posted 01-13-2009 02:39 PM

Russel, I think it is a wonderful turning. And considering it is your first, you have much to be proud of.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4911 days

#11 posted 01-13-2009 03:52 PM

Thanks Rikkor, I always appreciate you stopping for a look and comment.

-- Working at Woodworking

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