Woodturning Segmented Christmas Ornament

Woodturning Segmented Christmas Ornament


Hi, Alan Stratton, from As Wood Turns. (www.AsWoodTurns.com)
The Christmas Ornament Challenge for this year is in full swing. The submission period
is the month of November. And, I have time for another Christmas ornament for the challenge.
This one is with the died FrogWood, cherry. Those are both segmented. With solid walnut
and maple veneer and spalted box elder for a nice accent for the top and bottom finials.
In the midst of all the busyness of the Christmas season, please take time to remember the true
spirit of Christmas. Take time with your families to celebrate and to remember what is most
important during this Christmas season. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas and have a good
turning. The first thing to do in most segmented projects
is to cut segments. I like a Wedgie sled on my table saw for sawing segments. The board
on the left is a segment length stop that is clamped to the rip fence. This provides
consistent segment lengths. Notice in the throat of the saw, a plywood zero clearance
plate that has a fall off ramp. When cut, segments fall away from the saw blade and
don’t get nicked. The cut segments always have some wood crumbs
around the cut surfaces. A light rub on each edge against a sanding board gets rid of these
pesky things. Theoretically, a wedgie sled can cut perfect
segments. However, in practice for me, they are near perfect segments. Slight variations
creep in from the saw blade, wood crumbs, variations in the wood, variations in how
I hold the wood, etc, etc , etc. So I rarely glue up an entire ring at once. In this case
I want a piece of maple veneer between the FrogWood segments. This compounds variation
even more. So, now, I’m gluing one piece of veneer between two segments and clamping
them. My preferred glue for segmented work is TiteBond Original Extend for a less gummy
glue line and a little more open time. After a few minutes to dry, I’m gluing pairs
together, again with veneer between the segments. I cannot clamp these – rubber bands will
provide the clamping presure. I’ve given extra stretch to the round side. A piece of
oven parchment paper keeps glue from getting all over.
Next, I can complete the half rings. Each half is 8 segments and 7 pieces of maple veneer.
I use a bolt for its parallel sides between the half rings. This permits the segments
to pivot together for best glue contact. After this, I will take the half rings to a disk
sander to slightly sand the segment faces for a perfect joint.
The final glue takes almost no time at all. Just a little glue and clamps. The most important
thing is to remember to insert the remaining maple veneer between the segment joints. After
a little dry time, I can clean up the surface to prepare to glue the rings together.
For this project, I have a ring of cherry segments left over from a previous project.
This will provide a backdrop to the FrogWood. The cherry is already mounted to a wood faceplate.
For now, I need to use the lathe as a big clamp to center and provide pressure on the
glue. Again, I’m putting a piece of maple veneer between the segment rings.
While the glue dried I worked on something else. After about twenty minutes at my cool
shop temperature, I can do some light clean up on the lathe and cut a small mounting tenon
on the FrogWood. I’m going to split the cherry ring. It is
too tall to serve as a single ring. I’m parting it in half so that I can glue it onto
the other side. Then dress the face to ensure it is flat.
Next, I’m mounting the FrogWood to a chuck with that little tenon I just cut. I’m dressing
the cut face of the cherry to prepare for the next glue stage. And, cut a small tenon
on the cherry side with my skew. Now reverse the wood in the chuck and glue
the cherry onto the opposite side from before. Just remember the maple veneer. I now have
a ring of cherry on both sides of the FrogWood with veneer between each segment ring.
Now to glue solid walnut to my stack again with maple veneer between the segment rings.
The glue is dry enough. I can trim back the walnut and, what else, cut a small tenon and
dress the face. I’m also drilling a 3/8” hole for the finial mount.
I’m now parting off the project wood from the faceplate. I’ll dress the faceplate
and use it again later for another project. Finally, dress the face and glue on the matching
walnut and maple to the other side. And, trim back the new walnut layer. So far, I’ve
rushed the glue dry time, doing light tooling after only 15-20 minutes at the current temperature
of the shop. Then, only between centers. I’m now going to let the wood dry at least overnight
so that I can have confidence in the glue holding under stress.
Now that the glue is well cured, I’m mounting the stack on a pen mandrel. A couple of spacers
turned from HDPE take up the slack from the ¼” mandrel to the 3/8” hole in my wood
stack. A couple of old spacers take up the remaining extra room on the right. On the
live center is a cone to capture the end of the pen mandrel without putting pressure that
could bend the mandrel. Now for final shaping. But a couple of the short plywood spacers
split under pressure. I had to replace them with a longer spacer. I previously had measured
the inside diameter at key points. I’m using those measurements now to guide how much wood
I can remove. I want the radius on the FrogWood to show off the layers in that lamination.
That’s why I had rotated the FrogWood strips 90 degrees way back when I cut the segments.
The FrogWood is much harder than the cherry. But eventually, the design evolves and looks
good to me. After a thorough sanding, I’m applying shellac
friction polish and giving it a good rub with a dry paper towel. Wow! The color is really
popping now. It’s time to turn a finial. This will be
the bottom finial. This is spalted box elder. It is already rough turned and ready to go.
To me, turning a finial is a process of finding a balance between chunky, fragile, and beauty.
As Christmas ornaments, they will be handled by children. I cannot stop that. The precludes
sharp points and extremely thin sections. The shape has to evolve as I remove wood to
expose the finial within. At first I have a fat carrot. So, I keep turning. Then the
end shatters due to a worm hole. it will be shorter. That’s okay. I decide to cut a
bead section. Then, the wood on either side seems fat. I keep at it. After sanding, I
give it shellac friction polish. Nice! Finally, the finial for the top. This will
be shorter and simpler but plus it needs a hole for a hanger. I make hangers from thin
craft wire around 20 gauge. A couple of inches looped around a drill bit and twisted into
a spiral does the trick and looks much nicer than a screw eyelet. This time for this finial,
I decide to have the finial mimic the shape of the ornament’s body. Then sand and apply
friction polish. Christmas ornaments are great projects. This
one has the unique color and figure from the FrogWood. The other wood is leftovers and
remnants from other long forgotten projects. This one will be a welcome addition to our
Christmas tree and remembrance. Please give this video a thumbs up, subscribe
on my website, tell your friends and send me your comments and questions. Every week
I make a new woodturning video. Please wear your full-face shield – anytime the lathe
is running. Until next week’s video this is Alan Stratton from As Wood Turns dot com.

30 thoughts on “Woodturning Segmented Christmas Ornament

  1. That’s a beautiful ornament Alan. I really like the shape and that Frogwood accent in the middle is beautiful.

    I have some Frogwood that I’ll be turning sometime soon. Your comment that it is harder than cherry was helpful. It really looks like it will be fin to turn.

  2. Wonderful, just wonderful Alan !!! Don't you love it when you can expose the wonder inside ? Or put another way – Don't you love it when a plan comes together ? -Mike

  3. Great description and video of the process! I especially like the gluing up pf the segment pieces explanation, particularly the use of the bolt. Do you have a link to making the twisted eyelets?

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