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Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair #2: Turning Long, Thin Spindles

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Blog entry by DustyMark posted 10-11-2012 12:07 AM 2340 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Reproducing a Design Part 2 of Building a Thos. Moser Design New Gloucester Rocking Chair series Part 3: Modeling a Seat Blank from Pine »

Stock Preparation
Run one face of the rough ash board across the jointer. Then run the opposite face through the planer. That should take some of the twists out of the wood. Rip ¾” square, 31” long spindle blanks on the table saw. Make several extra blanks beyond the 14 that are needed.

Mark the center of the tailstock end of the spindle using a plastic center marking gauge. Make a pilot with an awl. Drill the hole about ¼” deep with a 1/8” diameter brad point bit. This step helps center the live center of the tailstock on the spindle.

I like to secure these spindles in a heavy lathe chuck. Even if the spindle departs the tailstock, there is time to turn the lathe off before the spindle breaks. I like to use my Super Nova 2 chuck with pin jaws attached. This method seems more reliable than using a spur center on the headstock.

Center Steady
I’m a big advocate of using some sort of center steady while turning long, narrow spindles. I used to use an old Delta steady that had adjustable steel blocks and no bearings. Plenty of Johnson’s Paste Wax took the place of bearings. I made six bowback chairs using that steady. I replaced my old Delta lathe and the swing is higher on my new Jet 1642. That put me in the market for a new center steady. I selected the

Oneway because of its great adjustability and quality wheels/bearings. It does a great job of steadying these chair spindles.

Turn the center 4” of the blank with a roughing gouge until it is round. Secure the center steady wheels to that portion of the blank.

Use a parting tool with a gauge set to 15/32” on each side of the steady’s wheels. This helps ensure a continuous taper on the final spindle.

Turn the rest of the spindle to final dimensions on either side of the steady.

My Secret to an Excellent Taper…A Sanding Block!

The rocker calls for 14 spindles for the back alone. Using the parting tool to set a reference depth at the midpoint of the spindle does wonders for uniformity. However, achieving a real smooth, even taper with a skew or gouge requires skills I don’t possess. Here is my secret method…

I use a Veritas sanding block with 100 grit sandpaper and the lathe turning at 1,000 to 1,500 rpm. It’s amazing how the sanding block evens out the bumps and voids in the taper. My lathe dust hood does a good job of keeping this a clean method.

Order of Cuts
Using a center steady makes the process of turning long, thin spindles a lot easier. However it does add extra steps. Here’s the flow of cuts that works for me.
1. I like installing the narrow end of the spindle at the headstock. The spindle runs truer at that end.
2. Round the middle several inches with a roughing gouge.
3. Install the center steady.
4. Round the rest of the spindle.
5. Set reference depth cuts with parting tool on either side of center steady and at narrow end.
6. Turn spindle to final dimensions.
7. Sand the spindle.
8. Move the center steady toward the tailstock.
9. Even the taper where the center steady had been.
10. Turn the tenon at the tailstock end.
11. Move center steady out of the way.
12. Sand the entire spindle to even taper.

I’ve completed 6 of the 14 spindles. I’ll complete the legs and arm rest spindles next. It might be over a week before my next blog entry.

Next blog…modeling a seat blank from pine.

-- Mark, Minnesota



10 comments so far

View cabmaker's profile

cabmaker

1311 posts in 1499 days


#1 posted 10-11-2012 02:28 AM

Thats a fine looking steady you have there. I ve looked at the one ways and was really impressed. I use a cheapy now with the tiny rollers. Very agravating at times. Your post just may motivate me enough to go on and buy one. Thanks ! JB

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 760 days


#2 posted 10-11-2012 02:38 AM

JB:

The nice feature of the less expensive model center steadies is that they can go to some small diameters that the large wheels of the Oneway model could never reach.

However, I have experimented with using two wheels (bottom and back) and basically pushing the spindle into them with gouge pressure and even a little hand pressure. That provides a lot of support when working less than the minimum diameter that can be achieved with three wheels in contact.

5-star rating for the Oneway in my view.

Mark

-- Mark, Minnesota

View Philip's profile

Philip

1139 posts in 1229 days


#3 posted 10-12-2012 12:54 AM

Looks interesting.

-- If you can dream it, I can do it!

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 760 days


#4 posted 10-12-2012 01:27 AM

Philip:
Thanks, I think I enjoy chair building the best. You’re rarely working in 90 degree angles and there are plenty of challenges to keep it interesting. A well-done final products screams comfort both when you’re looking at it and sitting in it…

-- Mark, Minnesota

View stefang's profile

stefang

13304 posts in 2024 days


#5 posted 12-31-2012 02:48 PM

Good work sequence Mark. I haven’t seen a dust hood like yours and I’m thinking it wouldn’t be to hard to build one for my lathe out of ply. and some plexiglass.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 760 days


#6 posted 12-31-2012 05:14 PM

Mike:

I’m considering running a 4” hose with a small sub-hood from inside the main hood when turning shorter items. That would out the suction closer to the source. It would friction fit into the 5” dust port. Always tinkering…

-- Mark, Minnesota

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112335 posts in 2267 days


#7 posted 12-31-2012 05:17 PM

Nice equipment and nice work.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View stefang's profile

stefang

13304 posts in 2024 days


#8 posted 12-31-2012 05:35 PM

My interest in the dust hood is mainly because my shop is so small that and swarf and dust that gets airborne winds up under all my other power tools and dust collection is difficult for a lathe. My other machines are all on wheels, but it’s a chore and time consuming to move everything every time I clean up.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 760 days


#9 posted 12-31-2012 06:40 PM

The hood does well with the pesky dust and not as well on chips which are easy enough to sweep up.

-- Mark, Minnesota

View DustyMark's profile

DustyMark

271 posts in 760 days


#10 posted 01-05-2013 08:06 PM

I no longer move the center steady. That was a waster of time and effort. I am careful to get the part under the steady to the mid-taper diameter and even sand it a bit before lowering the steady into place. I leave about an inch on each side of the steady smooth. I then blend the turning into that from each side. After turning, I sand on either side of the steady, raise the wheels out of the way, and sand the area under the steady. At this point the wood is smooth and I’m able to support the spindle with my hand as I sand the center of the spindle.

-- Mark, Minnesota

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