Turning Archive

Wandmaker - my favorite pastime! *PIC*
Response To:
Infamous Wandmaker ()

John K Jordan
>>>Wondering how you hold a thin spindle and turn without whipping, Mr. John. Or is this one of the wizard's secrets (chuckling)?

It's a big secret! I've made 100s of the wands and developed a combination of several techniques. Another example of thin spindles are these blackboard/whiteboard pointers, I forget, maybe 30" long. The light-colored one made from a piece of pine shelving board from Home Depot, tapering from 1/2" down to about 1/16". I don't use or even have a steady rest.

One "trick" is to turn a short morse taper on the end to hold in the spindle. This is a lot better than holding with a chuck for several reasons, for example there is no chuck to get in the way. A big bonus is I can take the spindle out off the lathe and remount it a month later in perfect registration - try that with a chuck!

When turning wands on a Jet mini lathe there is not enough bed length to allow a chuck for the lengths I like. I rarely try to sell anything but I did accidentally made a few thousand dollars when the Harry Potter books came out. Some of these kids waited several hours for a custom-made wand made to fit their hand, from wood they picked out.

Another "trick" is holding the skew/gouge with one hand while using the other hand to steady the work.

I do support with the tailstock until the end but when the spindle gets very thin that can get to be a problem so I sometimes remove the tailstock and hold the piece in the headstock with a drawbar to finish up.

Some wands.

Here is a relatively thick thin spindle - a handle for my favorite shuffle hoe, hickory, no steady rest, between centers. (A chuck would have made it easier but I was pushing the length of the lathe to the maximum - with the bed extension and the head and tailstock almost off the ends the handle was still not quite as long as I wanted it and a chuck would have made it even shorter.)

The secrets are so big I wrote a 10-page document for a handout out for when I did some demos on this. It's on two or three club websites (I could look for the URLs) or send me your email and I'll send a PDF.

Have skew, will travel (if you want a demo at your club). I may even pass out wand blanks. :) Or if driving through E. TN one day drop in and we can make wands!


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