Three-piece decorations shaped and polished on the lathe
Synopsis: Ornaments turned in three parts save small pieces of figured wood from the scrap bin and help embellish a tree or window. Michael Sage explains how to make them, beginning with making a bell from a scrap 2-in.-sq. by 3 to 4 in. long. Then he adds a stem, and tops it with a finial crown. He polishes the ornaments while they’re still on the lathe or by holding them on a buffing wheel. He drills a tiny eyelet in the top of the finial for hanging them.
I turn wood for a living, and I sell just about everything I make. But there are a few things I like to turn just for family and friends. Wooden ornaments, turned from brightly colored or highly figured woods, are my favorites. They’re great for stocking stuffers or for dressing up a home during the holidays. These ornaments don’t take long to make, and they’re a great way to use up odd scraps of wood.
I make them in three parts: a bell, a stem and a finial. Each part is turned separately. Glued together, the parts make a simple, bold form that really shows off a beautiful piece of wood. I have used clear, solid woods as well as spalted, segmented, inlaid, dyed and bleached woods. I have even used Colorwood, which is a dyed plywood made of 1⁄16-in. maple veneers.
Start by making the bell
The bell begins as a 2-in.-sq. blank of wood 3 in. to 4 in. long. It’s chucked between centers on the lathe and turned to a cylinder with a 1-in.-dia. by 1⁄2-in.-long tenon on one end.
I remount this piece on the lathe for final turning with a glue chuck, which is nothing more than a scrap block, with…