How to turn an oval

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Forum topic by grafiks posted 06-04-2014 07:59 PM 1705 views 2 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1084 days

06-04-2014 07:59 PM

I am new to the forum and have a project that I need some advice on. I am making some wooden tools to use making jewelry. Will be working with copper and silver mostly. This is a mandrel used to make bracelets that I want to duplicate out of wood

. I would appreciate any ideas on how to make this. It is 8 1/2” long, largest part of oval 2 1/4” x 2 1/2” and the smallest part is 1 5/8” x 1 7/8”. I want to use hard wood, persimmon or beech.
Banner Elk, NC

14 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3685 posts in 1399 days

#1 posted 06-04-2014 08:13 PM

Welcome to LJ’s. I doubt it can be done like that. You could make each individual ovals separately out of solid wood by turning the and then trimming the corners with a router.


View mtenterprises's profile


933 posts in 2324 days

#2 posted 06-04-2014 09:21 PM

I know there is a way to lathe turn it but i cannot remember where I have seen it. The only thing that comes to mind is Rose Engine Lathe but they are few and far between. I’m sure someone else on here will have the answer.

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View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2618 days

#3 posted 06-04-2014 09:36 PM

I think what you need is an oval/elliptical chuck.

More info on oval turning here.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View FellingStudio's profile


93 posts in 1314 days

#4 posted 06-04-2014 11:03 PM

This is not really that hard guys … it can be done with a simple spur drive.

Starting with a square blank, first mark the center of both ends by drawing straight lines corner to corner. Next mark points on one of your diagonals that are an equal distance from the center point. Mount on the lathe on the center points and turn the blank round. Mount on the lathe using one set of your off center points, and cut away half of the remaining wood. Mount on the lathe using the other set of your off center points, and cut away the remaining wood. You now have an oval.

Basically you are turning the wood three times on parallel axes.

-- Jesse Felling -

View grafiks's profile


4 posts in 1084 days

#5 posted 06-04-2014 11:47 PM

Thanks for all of the replies. Looks like a special chuck may be in my future.

View Wolfdaddy's profile


300 posts in 1466 days

#6 posted 06-05-2014 12:00 AM

There’s some great info about multi axis turning here:>

-- "MOM! I think there's something under our house! I'm gonna need a jackhammer, a fish bowl, some air tanks, and maybe a few pipes."

View REO's profile


908 posts in 1705 days

#7 posted 06-05-2014 12:15 AM

for one off jesse nailed it. unless you have an oval turning chuck (very expensive) or want to build one. the OT lathe will do it to but then that is an additional piece of equipment to buy for a one off.

View Mip's profile


453 posts in 1709 days

#8 posted 06-05-2014 12:59 AM

Vicmarc makes an oval chuck to fit on a lathe, but the downside is the cost: $2600! I think that would be an awful lot to pay to make one little oval mandrel. I would go with FellingStudio’s idea.

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4256 posts in 1983 days

#9 posted 06-05-2014 01:53 AM

FellingStudio nailed it, it can be done easily using a technique called offset turning, no fancy equipment required. Here’s a link to how Roy does it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Rick M

9226 posts in 2011 days

#10 posted 06-05-2014 03:58 AM

If I remember correctly, Roy also covers the math to get the oval you want rather than just guessing.


View TheFridge's profile


6869 posts in 1117 days

#11 posted 06-05-2014 04:39 AM

Damn. That is a good idea.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View ScrubPlane's profile


190 posts in 1827 days

#12 posted 06-15-2014 03:24 AM

I did one of these for my Mother a couple of years ago. Mine didn’t come out as good as the one in the video but the technique is fairly simple and doesn’t require any special tools or complicated geometry.

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4 posts in 1084 days

#13 posted 06-17-2014 01:56 AM

Thanks for the suggestions and youtube. My friend glued up some stock and turned an oval today. It worked great. He was going to try to build a jig and use a router but this is much easier. We want to sell these to people that make jewelry to use as a bracelet mandrel.
Thanks again for your post.

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Richard H

489 posts in 1312 days

#14 posted 06-17-2014 02:05 AM

The Woodwright Shop has a episode on turning oval mortise chisel handles that explains the layout really well. Check out PBS’s website, it should be there to watch.

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