1 Making the columns
Cut a blank several inches longer than the finished length of the columns, and wide and thick enough for the number of quarter columns you need. Rip the blank into quarters, joint the inside surfaces of the pieces, then glue and clamp them back together with newspaper in between (inset, top). This will enable you to pull the columns apart easily. Once the glue is dry, mount the blank on a lathe. Mark two lines on the blank for the length of the column and indicate the waste with Xs (inset, bottom). Drive screws through the waste sections to hold the quarters together. Adjust a set of outside calipers to the desired diameter of the column, then turn the blank into a cylinder as you did for the finials (page 131). Periodically turn off the lathe and use the calipers to check the diameter of the blank (right). Once you have reduced the blank to the correct diameter, turn two beads at each end using a skew chisel and a fingernail gouge. Then cut the flutes in the blank, either by hand using a gouge or with the router and jig shown on page 135.
Separating and installing the columns
Once all the flutes have been made, cut away the waste on the ends of the blank. Then use a wood chisel to pry the glued-up quarter columns apart. Holding the blank upright on a work surface, work the chisel tip into a seam on the end of the stock. Push the blade deeper into the seam (left) until the blank separates in half. Pry the halves into quarters, then use a scraper to clean the glue and newspaper from the columns. To install the columns on the chest, spread some glue on their inside surfaces and clamp them in place.
With the box-like jig shown below, you can rout flutes in a quarter column blank while it is mounted on the lathe. Cut the parts of the jig from %-inch plywood, except for the top, which is made from К-inch clear acrylic. The jig should be long and wide enough to support the router and high enough to hold the tool just above the column blank when the jig bottom rests on the lathe bed. Once the top, bottom, and sides are assembled, add two vertical braces to make the jig more rigid. Rest the jig on the lathe bed.
Install a double-bearing piloted fluting bit in your router, drill a bit clearance hole through the jig top, and screw the tool’s base plate to the jig. The router should be positioned so the bit will lie alongside the column blank when the jig is used. Next, mark cutting lines for the flutes on the blank, then mount the blank on the lathe. Be sure all tools are unplugged during setup. Adjust the cutting depth on the router so the bit is aligned with the cutting line at the midpoint of the blank. Tighten a handscrew around the lathe drive shaft to keep it from rotating. Clamp stop blocks
to the lathe bed so that all the flutes will be the same length.
To use the jig, butt it against one stop block, turn on the router and push on the side of the jig to feed the bit into the blank. Once the pilots are flush against the stock, slide the jig along the lathe bed until it contacts the other stop block. Keep the pilots pressed against the stock as you rout the flute. Turn off the router, remove the handscrew and rotate the blank by hand to align the next cutting line with the bit, and reinstall the handscrew. Cut the remaining flutes (below).