Segmented spindles

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Forum topic by hairy posted 07-13-2014 01:56 AM 2152 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2826 posts in 3896 days

07-13-2014 01:56 AM

I’ve been all over the web, and I can’t find anything on how to make a segmented spindle. Lots of bowls, staved vessels, hollow forms, no spindles. Either that or I don’t know how to google as good as I think I can.

I have some ideas that need it. A solid spindle. To be turned between centers.

Let’s say I decide I need 12 segments, to run top to bottom in the finished project, headstock to tailstock while on the lathe.And I want this spindle to have a 6” diameter. So I use 3” stock, cut 30 degrees ( or is it 15?) on each side, into a wedge shaped blank as long as I want it. Is that how to do it? All the sides have to add up to 360. If I want to insert a veneer strip between segments, what is the effect? Does it change the angles?

I could glue up rectangular spindle blanks into a bigger, thicker spindle blank, but it will not have the look I am going for after turning. I want even spacing all the way around the blank.

Is that all there is? Divide 360 by the number of desired segments. Cut to that angle, add glue and clamps, then wait? Then get pissed and throw it at the neighbors cat? Help!

-- My reality check bounced...

9 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5637 posts in 4027 days

#1 posted 07-13-2014 03:27 AM

For 12 segments it would be 15 degrees on each side … the veneer strip doesn’t change the angle. Many turners do this for pepper mills, etc.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View dirtycurty's profile


44 posts in 1943 days

#2 posted 07-13-2014 11:31 AM

TheDane is correct!!!! The way to figure your angles is 360 (degrees of a circle) divided by number of sides (in this case 12) will equal the degree of each angle (this case 30). Now you have 2 pieces making the angle so you need to divide 30 by 2 which equals 15 (the angle that needs to be cut on the end of each piece). The length of each piece determines the over all diameter.

This part can get confusing without actually trying it to see the results, here it goes. If you add let’s say an 1/8” piece of veneer, this is gonna make the overall diameter of the spindle larger unless you make each segment an 1/8” shorter. You can turn the spindle down to the required diameter without altering the length of each segment, what will happen is you will end up with a hole down the center of the spindle. Now if you want to prevent a hole down the center of the spindle, the 1/8” veneer strips must have angles on them also so this will change the angles on all of your pieces. You will now have 12 segments and 11 veneer strips which equals a total of of 23 pieces. 360 divided by 23 = 15.6. 15.6 divided by 2= 7.8. So all of your pieces, including the veneer strips, would have to have a 7.8 degree angle.

Now, if you want to add veneer strips and not go through all the BS of weird angles and end up with a hole down the center, you can always drill a hole and plug the center with a dowel rod or turn a recess and make your own plug to cover the holes in the ends.

View lew's profile


12738 posts in 4119 days

#3 posted 07-13-2014 03:24 PM

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View hairy's profile


2826 posts in 3896 days

#4 posted 07-13-2014 03:38 PM

Thanks! I thought that was how it worked, but I was trying to complicate it, as usual.

Lew, that pic is it exactly. Thanks!

-- My reality check bounced...

View Woodknack's profile


12778 posts in 2744 days

#5 posted 07-14-2014 06:53 AM

I haven’t tried it myself but I attended a segmented turning workshop by a man who is extremely skilled, he told use that joining segments that meet in the center is extremely difficult. That’s it’s easier to leave a gap, drill out the center and glue a dowel in place. But that can be problematic due to uneven expansion. Just food for thought.

-- Rick M,

View hairy's profile


2826 posts in 3896 days

#6 posted 07-14-2014 12:34 PM

Thanks, Rick! That is one of my concerns. I’m thinking about making a jig, a cap for each end, to be put on at glue up. If it does as I hope, it will help keep it all together at the ends and provide a marked center, and it will just get parted off later.

For me, the hardest part that I can see, is cutting the wedges. It might wind up being something like the way people make cutting boards,( never done it but have seen the process). Cut some blanks, glue them up, cut them again and re-glue. Maybe that way I can just slice wedges off the end, flipping the blank over between cuts.

-- My reality check bounced...

View rick1955's profile


264 posts in 1795 days

#7 posted 07-14-2014 12:52 PM

Google isn’t the only search engine. Many colleges have a course on search engines. 20 years ago when I fisrt got on the web, I asked a queation and the answers were so bad I learned how to use search engines and never asked a question again. I just go to the answer. No new questions, just new people asking the same old questions.

You might try therming…

-- Working smarter with less tools is a true crafts person...

View TheDane's profile


5637 posts in 4027 days

#8 posted 07-14-2014 01:33 PM

hairy—Our local guild had a program a few months back by a guy that makes segmented peppermill blanks. This guy (sorry, his name escapes me) sells his blanks to a company that specializes in turning blanks, and his stuff goes for significant money.

He said he does all of his cutting on his table saw. He uses a Wixey digital angle gauge to set the blade angle. The trick, he said, was to dial-in the angle by using the gauge on both sides of the blade. He calculated the size of each wedge to allow for a 1 1/16” hole through the middle of the glued up blank, which for a peppermill is perfect.

I have not tried this yet in my shop, but one of the other guys in the group brought a bunch of glued-up blanks made using this technique in for the instant gallery at our last club meeting. He did 12 segments separated by veneer strips … looked great.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View hairy's profile


2826 posts in 3896 days

#9 posted 07-14-2014 05:56 PM

I want to make a glue up that looks like the picture Lew posted. With a veneer strip between each segment.

6” across x 12” long. 3/4” thick stock

I did a segmented hollow form once. That was pretty straightforward. I set the blade angle to 22.5 degrees. I cut off an edge, flipped it over and around to cut the other edge. No big deal, just make sure I don’t cut the same angle on each end.

I think it will take a series of glue ups and cuts, glue ups and cuts to do it safely. All that to make a 3” thick slab. Make a cut at 15 degrees with the blade 3/4” away from the blade, flip it over and make the last cut.It should work.


-- My reality check bounced...

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