Cutting the flutes

Make a blank for each finial that is slightly larger than the finished dimensions. Mark the top and bottom of the pommel on the blank and use Xs to indicate the waste section below the pommel. Use the dado head in a table saw to reduce the blank’s thickness between the two marks. Set the cutting depth at % inch. Feed the blank with the miter gauge, cutting away the waste with overlapping passes on each face (inset). The flutes are cut with a core box bit in a table-mounted router. Set the cut­ting depth at it inch. Align the pommel over the bit for the first set of outside flutes and lock the fence against the blank. To ensure that all the flutes will be the same length, clamp a stop block to the fence at each end of the blank. Turn on the router and lower the blank onto the bit with its trailing end against the stop block closest to you and its edge against the fence. Feed the blank until it contacts the other stop block. Lift the blank, then rotate it and repeat the process until one set of outside flutes is finished. Reposition the fence once to rout the middle flutes and again for the second set of outside flutes (above).


1 Turning the cylinder

Cut off most of the waste section be­low the pommel, leaving a couple of inches for a round tenon. Mount the blank on a lathe and adjust the tool rest as close to the workpiece as possible without touching it. Use a roughing-out gouge to round the corners of the blank above the pommel. Turn on the lathe and hold the tip of the gouge against the rotating blank. Begin with the tip of the gouge tilted up, then gradually raise the handle until the bev­el under the tip is rubbing against the stock and the cutting edge is slicing into it. Work from the right-hand end of the blank toward the pommel, leaving a square shoulder above the pommel (right). Keep the tool at the same angle to the work­piece throughout the cut. Continue until the blank is cylindrical and smooth.

Shaping the flame

Leave the blank rotating while you mark the bottom ends of the urn and the flame with a pencil. Use a skew chisel to cut a notch separating the flame and urn, then begin shaping the flame with a spindle gouge (above). The process is the same as for the cylinder in step 1, but instead of holding the tool at a fixed angle to the blank, sweep it from side to side while angling the tip to cut a contour. Continue until the flame has the desired shape.

Shaping the urn

Shape the urn with a spindle gouge as you did the flame. Then use a skew chisel to cut a notch defining the lower end of the urn. Pressing the chisel firmly against the tool rest, hold the short point of the tip against the blank to cut the V-shaped notch; keep the bevel on the back of the blade rubbing against the stock to help control the cut (above). Then use the skew chisel and spindle gouge to shape beads below the urn.

4 Turning the tenon and smoothing the finial

Use a parting tool to turn a %-inch-long round tenon below the pommel, leaving a thin disk of wood against the headstock of the lathe. Then remove the tool rest and smooth the surface of the finial with sand­paper, using progressively finer grits. Fold the paper to reach around the beads and into crevices (left). To finish smoothing the piece, hold a handful of wood shavings under the rotating finial and allow it to rub against the shavings. Combined with your skin oils, the shavings will impart a smooth finish to the surface. Once the job is done, turn off and unplug the lathe, but leave the blank mounted on the tool.



Sketching the pattern

To help you carve the flame, mark a grid of ‘/-inch squares on the entire sur­face of the flame section. Then draw in four equally spaced spiral lines from the bottom to the top of the section to delin­eate the hollows you will carve in step 2; the lines should intersect opposite cor­ners of each square (right).

Carving the flame

Remove the finial from the lathe and saw off the waste disk below the tenon. Then clamp the finial to a work surface, using shims to hold it parallel to the benchtop. Carve the hol­lows between the grid lines with two gouges, starting with a wide-blade tool (above, left). Work parallel to the wood grain as much as possible; rotate and re-clamp the finial so that
you can reach the entire surface. Use a narrower gouge to carve a sharply defined ridge between each hollow (above, right). Work from the bottom to the top of the flame, bring­ing each ridge to a point. Then hollow out the top end to re­move the hole left by the lathe’s tailstock and smooth the flame with sandpaper.


Gluing the finials to the chest

For each finial, bore a hole into the top of the chest with a spade bit the same diam­eter as the tenon on the finial. Locate the hole directly above the quarter column (page 134). This will create the impression that the column and finial are a single piece. Spread glue on the tenon and the sides of the hole, then fit the finial in place (left). Use a clamp to hold it in position until the adhesive cures.

Updated: March 18, 2016 — 1:26 am