Have yourself an eccentric little Christmas...

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Project by scottb posted 11-26-2008 06:29 AM 3530 views 7 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

An Eccentric Pine, but very Poplar.

I always made Christmas Tree ornaments as a kid, (that is ornaments representing the actual tree) mostly round construction paper cones, or clay. Something about the shape, the form… and the magic of the season that just resonates with kids. Look mom, a tree, in the house!

This turning is based on David Reed Smiths design in American Woodturner magazine (Winter 2008). The construction techniques and idea are all his, but it reminded me of a simple tree design I used to doodle on cards years ago (decades in fact) – by itself, as well as the smoke coming out of a pipe in Santa’s mouth. Both were sent out as homemade Christmas cards, and the tree was a simple go-to image when drawing in a fake stamp on an envelope.

That simple 2D design now has a 3D form, in the form of this svelte tree. Eccentric because it was turned with 4 different “centers” (as illustrated in the last photo, after the first turning before painting), so that the green portions are an asymmetrical element representing an evergreen. 5 inches tall, made of poplar, decorated with green acrylic paint, and buffed with wax.

Here’s David’s page for the how-to.

The link is a bit more thorough than the article in the magazine. He had some neat ideas for the top of the tree, stars, angels etc… I tried making tree and topper without referencing the article – was going for a star at the top. The wood had other ideas. So I ended up parting off the torn end and sanded down the rough wood, in what looks to me, like the top of an obelisk. The other difference is that I didn’t quite leave enough at the bottom for a stand and thin trunk, so I opted for a flat bottomed ball end – like a burlap covered root ball on a live tree one plants outside after the holidays.

This was a fun little project… and truth be told, I think the form looked better with more paint slathered on it. I may try another one, not worry so much about sanding it super smooth and just paint the whole thing. As a monotone form, I think this piece is a stunner. I may have to make myself a whole forest of these!

This is the 25th item in my 30 day project/challenge
& auction.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

18 comments so far

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4077 days

#1 posted 11-26-2008 06:38 AM


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View woodyone's profile


231 posts in 3591 days

#2 posted 11-26-2008 09:33 AM

clever idea, well done.

-- Woody, UK

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3874 days

#3 posted 11-26-2008 11:57 AM

Wonderful! The green is subtle enough to really give interest without overpowering. Great article, too. He really explained it well.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4246 days

#4 posted 11-26-2008 12:38 PM

How unique and unusual Scott, but beautiful. Great idea,

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3939 days

#5 posted 11-26-2008 01:16 PM

Slick. Turning off center can produce some pretty cool results.

-- Working at Woodworking

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4326 days

#6 posted 11-26-2008 02:29 PM

nice work scott & thanks for the link. I may have to try one of these myself.

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4400 days

#7 posted 11-26-2008 03:05 PM

Nice tree. A great design and execution.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3717 days

#8 posted 11-26-2008 03:15 PM

Cool. Nice.

-- Have a blessed day!

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3527 days

#9 posted 11-26-2008 04:53 PM

Very cool. Like it lots, thanks. Great what you are doing.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4218 days

#10 posted 11-26-2008 05:03 PM

Very nice, Scott!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Chris Cunanan's profile

Chris Cunanan

339 posts in 3480 days

#11 posted 11-26-2008 08:00 PM

how do you get the timing right on the pattern? I see that they’re obviously not all lined up perfect, but you did a pretty damn good job. I wish either of you had a video of it so I could see how quickly your hands move during the cuts. I still can’t believe the quality and diversity of your projects in this 30 day challenge….way to push yourself scott, I am inspired to do something similar I have been thinking about too much and not doing enough.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3874 days

#12 posted 11-26-2008 09:04 PM

So clever! I really like how it came out. Its a very unique decoration. I like it a lot.

-- Happy woodworking!

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4327 days

#13 posted 11-27-2008 12:13 AM

Thanks all.

Chris – you just try to lay out the lines as evenly as possible, without obsessing over it. nothing in nature is so anal in it’s uniformity. It probably took longer to turn it down to a cone than it did to make the plunge cuts for the ellipses. I started at the top where the wobble was the least and moved down toward the base where it was pretty hard to see where the “air wood” started. Then you just cut in with your skew at a slight angle until you reach the solid wood – slowly and carefully. Sanding was a little more nervewracking than the skew work. All told this was a very very quick project – apart from waiting for the paint to dry. Cut as far as you like, just not too far past “center” of the visible wood area… for the design, as there were 3 off center ‘centers’ I used every third line for each center, kinda uniform in that regard. I wonder how it would look and if I’d like it if I was more random with the lines. I suspect it would look wrong if two adjacent rings were the same. Next one of these I try will be a little shorter in relation to its height, and I think with closer spacing on the lines.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View woodup's profile


145 posts in 3943 days

#14 posted 11-29-2008 07:16 PM

Great Design!

-- Michael, Fort Worth, TX. "I wood if I could!"

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4405 days

#15 posted 12-01-2008 03:05 PM

this is pretty neat looking. I couldn’t get the instructions weblink to work, maybe just me.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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