Walnut Russian Spindle

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Project by Lisa Chan posted 10-22-2009 09:31 PM 2243 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Walnut Russian Spindle
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This is my first experience working walnut. It was really clean and easy to cut. However, it wasn’t as dense and sturdy as Bocote. Towards the end of the turning, the shaft started to bow a bit which caused wobble. This made finishing a pain in the bum.

Also… I have not perfected making the point for the spindle and parting at the end of the project. I’m sure this has to do with needing more experience with my tools. I’d like to be able to make finer points (like I see on other production spindles).

I would also like to find out if there is a more efficient way to turn down the shaft. It can take me as much (or more time) finishing (smoothing out the the uneven places) as it does to create the point. My final goal is to turn out a spindle in under an hour. I am averaging about 1 hr and 45 minutes.

I also need to research my finishing oils/finishes. Spindles can not be slick and they should not be tacky to the touch. However, because the shaft will come in contact with dyed wool yarn, it may discolor and soak up errant dye. This creates a sometimes unwanted patina to light colored spindles. I think the bocote spindles should be fine… even the walnut… it’s the blond woods I am concerned about.

I am considering trying Orange/Wax oil. Currently, I am just using a mineral oil wipe.

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-- Lisa Chan, custom cafts and yarn accessories,

5 comments so far

View hairy's profile


2783 posts in 3737 days

#1 posted 10-22-2009 11:14 PM

Very nice! I should be asking you for advice, buy you are right about experience will solve your problems. The experienced turners can get a ready to finish surface by using a skew chisel. I’m still trying ti get there.

-- My reality check bounced...

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3531 days

#2 posted 10-23-2009 12:50 AM

Really cool – you can move into magic wands… I have not lathed yet so I have no idea how hard this is… but getting anything symmetrical is a challenge.

View lew's profile


12446 posts in 3961 days

#3 posted 10-23-2009 01:25 AM


You may have to make (or buy) a device called a “steady rest”. It is a device that mounts on your lathe and keeps longer turnings from wobbling or moving off center. Someone here at LJ’s posted a picture of a home made one the other day.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3636 days

#4 posted 10-23-2009 07:17 AM

Great job Lisa. You are learning fast. A Steady Rest might be the way to go. It will help keep your workpiece from flexing. Also make sure your tools are sharp. If not REALY sharp they will have to push against the wood more in order to cut. That will cause more flexing.

When useing walnut, get your cut close with the gouge then switch to a SHARP skew and VERY light touch. You can sneak up on the final size and end up with a very clean cut before sanding.

Good luck and keep it up.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3782 days

#5 posted 10-23-2009 07:21 AM

looks great

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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