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Ornament Stand as 4 page pdf


Ornament Stand



It was one of those forehead smacking moments.  I was taking the #2 jaws off my Stronghold chuck, to put on my homemade wooden two jaw chuck set-up.  For some reason instead of taking off the jaws in a clockwise fashion, I took off two diametrically opposite jaws.  I looked at the chuck at this point and said “Gee” (or words to that effect) “that would be a lot easier”.  Turns out it sure was.  I screwed some rectangular scrap to some round scrap and it works nicely.  Not as versatile as the wooden Two-Jaw, as you can only slide, not rotate, but it’s simpler, and gives more secure holding.  This article describes using a Sliding Glue Block and two #2 jaws to make a Christmas Ornament Stand.

Making the Sliding Glue Block

Make the Sliding Glue Block from two pieces of scrap.  There are only two components, a rectangular piece that the jaws grip, and a circular piece that you glue or tape the project to.


The rectangular piece needs to be a width that will hold the circular piece in a stable fashion, but not make the jaws protrude past the chuck body.  It needs to be long enough to fully engage the jaws as far as you want to slide it.  It must be thick enough that the jaws can grip it securely, but not so thick that it bottoms out in the chuck.  For the Ornament Stand I used a piece 2” wide, 4” long, and 7/16” thick.  I used maple.  But 3/8” plywood or other sheet goods would also work.


The circular piece should be about the diameter of the project.  Other than being thick enough to support the project in a stable fashion, material choice isn’t important.  I used a 3-1/2” diameter piece of 3/8 particle board.


Center the rectangular piece on the circular piece and join them together with wood glue and a couple of wood screws.


Fig1:  The Sliding Glue Block



Fig2:  The Sliding Glue Block from the back.


Fig3:  The Chuck with two jaws mounted.



Fig4:  The Sliding Glue Block mounted centered on the chuck.




Fig5:  The Sliding Glue Block mounted off center.



Making the Base

You can make the Ornament Stand from any wood you like.  I used maple.  For the Base, select some stock that’s ¾ to 1” thick and bandsaw a 3-1/2” disk.  To fasten the disk to the Sliding Glue Block you can use hot-melt glue, a paper joint, or double stick tape.  I used double stick tape.  Apply two strips of tape to the Sliding Glue Block and trim to fit.  Remove the backing and center the disk on the Sliding Glue Block.  Clamp the pieces together in a vise for a few minutes to improve the holding power of the tape.  They aren’t kidding when they call it Pressure Sensitive Adhesive.


Fig6:  The Sliding Glue Block and the Blank for the Base with double stick tape.



Fig7:  Clamping the Base to the Block for better hold.



Mount the Sliding Glue Block in your chuck and check to make sure it’s pretty well centered.  Adjust if necessary, and crank hard on the chuck key to make sure it’s held securely.  Turn the lathe on and use a bowl gouge to round the edge of the disk.  I used a home-made beading tool to add a bead at the bottom, and a shear scraper to reduce sanding.  When you’re satisfied with the shape, sand using progressively finer grits and apply your favorite finish (unless you want to use spray finish after the Stand is done) to the edge.

Fig8:  The Block and Base mounted on the chuck on the lathe.




Fig9:  Roughing the Base round.


Fig10:  Cutting a bead in the base with a beading tool.




Fig11:  Using a shear scraper to smooth the surface.


Fig 12:  The base after finishing the first turning.




Next loosen the jaw of your chuck enough to slide the Sliding Glue Block over about ¾” or so.  Tighten the jaws securely, turn the lathe on at a slow speed and mark the center with a pencil.  Stop the lathe and check to see if the center is where you want it to be.  To be stable when holding an ornament, the shaft has to be offset enough to keep the hanging point over the base.


Fig 13:  Checking the offset.



Start the lathe up again, and increase the speed as much as you and your lathe are comfortable with.  You want a speed that’s fast enough to let you keep the tool steady as the tip progresses from cutting wood to air, but not so fast that your lathe bounces about.  Take a bowl gouge and start to shape a dome.  Once the dome is roughed to shape, switch to a skew or V-pointed tool and make a dimple at the center to guide a drill.  Take a 3/8” drill and drill in about three quarters of the way through your base.  You can chuck up a drill in a tail stock mounted chuck, but I didn’t have my tailstock mounted when doing this project, so I used a long handled drill.  The starting dimple and the tool rest, when properly set for height, were enough to guide the drill.


Fig 14:  Starting the second turning.



Fig 15:  Cutting a starting dimple for the drill.



Fig 16:  Drilling the hole for the shaft.



Switch back to the bowl gouge and finish shaping the top of the base.  If you like, refine and smooth the surface more with a shear scraper.  Then sand through progressively finer grits.  You’ll have to use caution when sanding to avoid letting your fingers slip into the path of the base while sanding air.  I find it helps to use abrasive long enough to keep some of it on the steady part.  Apply finish, and then separate the base from the glue block using a chisel, knife, or sharpened piece of sheet metal like a cabinet scraper.


Fig 17:  Shear Scraping the base.



Fig 18:  The finished base.



Making the Shaft

Start by cutting stock.  Something in the neighborhood of 1” x 1”, and as long as you want the stand to be high plus the mounting tenon and some waste for mounting.  I used a piece about 14” long.  This qualifies as long and thin, so chatter suppression will be important.  It’s a lot easier to turn a diffuse porous wood such as maple thin than something ring porous like oak.  You can also cut down on chatter by mounting the drive end in a chuck, and by using some kind of steady rest.  Keep your tool exquisitely sharp.


Mount the piece between centers to begin with, and turn a round tenon suitable for mounting in a chuck.  I used a collet chuck, but #1 jaws in a four jaw chuck would also work. 

Fig 19:  The shaft mounted between centers.




Fig 20:  The shaft after turning a tenon for the chuck.




Remount the piece using both the chuck and tailstock, and rough the piece round.  At this point you can add a steady rest if you have one.  I used a MagSteady, an instant mounting two wheeled back steadies that mount with magnetic bases. 


Fig 21:  The shaft after turning round and mounting a MagSteady.



Turn a finial for the top end, and a flat part below the finial about ½” in diameter to mount a wire hanging hook.  Then start turning the shaft to the diameter you wish in sections.  Mount your center steady 3 or 4 inches down the shaft, turn the part between the steady and finial, then move the steady down to the next section.  Add another steady on the thinned section if you have one.  If you don’t have a steady, sharpen you tool, take light cuts, and use your fingers to steady the spindle.  When you get to the bottom, add a decorative detail if you wish, then turn a 3/8” tenon to mount in the base.  Sand and apply the finish of your choice.  Then cut off the ends and touch up the end of the finial.


Fig 22:  After turning the finial.



Fig 23:  Thinning the first section of the shaft.



Fig 24:  The finished shaft.




Find some kind of wire to make the hanger.  Thick copper wire, anodized aluminum, brass, what have you.  In the picture of the finished Ornament Stands, one has anodized aluminum, the other has brass wire twisted into a spiral.  I just took a length of brass wire, doubled it over, and clamped the ends in a vise.  Then I used a power drill with a steel wire hook as a drive to twist the spiral.  Cut a length and bend whatever shape for a hanger pleases you.  Measure the diameter of the wire (or spiral) and drill a hole part way through the flat area of the shaft.  Put a drop of CA glue on some masking tape, dip the end of the wire into the glue, then insert it into the shaft.


Test fit the shaft into the base.  Then glue the shaft into the base, making sure that the hanger points over the base, and that the hanging point is inside the footprint of the base.


Fig 25:  Two finished Ornament Stands.