Turning Archive 2005
>Sorry for the delay, just got my computer up and running again....Joel had an interesting post concerning finials. I will give you my opinion on the subject.
Joel, you are correct; most turners focus on their bowl-turning skills, and neglect their spindle turning skills. Therefore, an attempt to create a spindle turning , such as a finial usually is a disappointing experience.
I will attempt to give a few suggestions. First, and most important, practice your spindle turning technique every time you turn. That way, when you need to make a spindle turning, it's a skill you are familiar with.
Second, spindles, especially finials, can be broken down into their basic elements. Use the "golden rectangle" as a guide when designing the overall shape of a finial; the result will be pleasing to the eye in its dimensions. If you study an attractive finial, you will see it can be divided further into a series of these golden rectangles, each with its own pleasing form.
I think a finial should have one prominent feature, which in most cases may mimic the overall form of the piece it sits upon. Form is important here, just as it is in a hollow form or a bowl. Another important consideration is what I refer to as "definition", the various components of the finial vary in size from large to small. This adds interest to the piece.
Last, study the classical forms. The finials on a Queen Anne highboy or period clock are some of the best examples to be found. The secret is the use of well formed beads and coves. V-grooves are not a substitute for these elements of a finial.
A bonus....these spindle techniques can be used in bowl turning, such as taming a difficult piece of wood, or forming beads on the rim or foot of a piece. Practice, Practice!