WoodCentral's video reviews
Elegant Finials

Elegant Finials
by Cindy Drozda

Cindy Drozda: 2006
DVD, 1 hr. 27 min., $26.95

    Whenever woodturners critique finial pieces or look for ideas for their own finials to cap their pieces, Cindy Drozda's work is the benchmark they usually refer to. Cindy's DVD, Elegant Finials, released in 2006 will also earn its place as the benchmark DVD on the subject.
    The DVD is broken up into 4 sections: Fitting the Lid, Basic Cuts, Turning the Final and Sharpening Methods. A slide show gallery of her lidded vessels with finials and a PDF copy of her Spring 2006 AAW Journal - American Woodturner article "Finial Design" are included on the DVD.
    Finials are a small delicate object requiring very close-up views to fully understand the intricate designs and the turning cuts that are required to produce them. From the very beginning of the DVD, the excellent camera work is obvious. The close-up shots and the camera angles are outstanding. Cindy's narrative is clearly presented in logical order and at an even pace. The design process and each of the cuts is carefully explained and shown. Nothing is rushed or skipped.
    In the first section, Fitting the Lid, Cindy explains how to choose the correct size of the finial using the Golden Mean. The 1/3 - 2/3 rule is used not only in choosing the size of the finial as it compares to the vessel but also for the proportions of the finial design itself. Cindy addresses how to shape the top of the vessel opening to accept the finial as well as how to fit the finial lid. Because the bottom of the lid and finial blank are reverse jam chucked before the finial itself is turned, the lid bottom must be finished before proceeding. As a nice touch, Cindy likes to put ornamental features in the bottom of the lid. Once the lid bottom is sanded and finished a jam chuck is turned and the lid bottom fitted to it. Masking tape is used as a safety net to insure the finial doesn't go flying off the jam chuck if something goes wrong.
    The next section, Basic Cuts, covers the three cuts used to produce her finials. To demonstrate Cindy methodically shows how she uses her specially ground spindle gouge to make "v", bead and cove cuts. The close-up camera shots really work well here showing each cut in great detail. Cindy also explains what can go wrong with each of the cuts if the tool is not handled properly.
    Once the basic cuts are understood, she begins Turning The Finial in the next section. The basic proportions are marked out on the blank before any cutting is done. Because the finial is so delicate, Cindy starts at the very top and works her way down to the base. Once the top ornamentation and upper spindle are completed, she carefully sands and applies the finish before moving down to the main body of the finial. The finial is sanded to 2000 grit. Because the edge of sandpaper tends to dig in, Cindy holds the paper at an angle so the edge is never running perpendicular to the rotating finial. With the top complete she starts with the middle feature section. The close-up camera shots clearly show each of the cuts. It was interesting watching her work and hearing her comments as she made small adjustments to the design. She would verbally critique herself as she worked giving the viewer an example of the creative mind at work. Once the bottom part of the finial is completed, it is sanded and finished. She applies a wipe-on poly first and then puts a neutral shoe wax on top of the wet poly and buffs it with a paper towel. She does not use cloth rags because of the danger of having them get caught in the turning or chuck and pulling her hand into the lathe.
    Throught out the presentation her specially ground spindle gouge was clearly demonstrated. In the final segment, Sharpening Method, Cindy explains how she grinds the gouge to the shape she uses. She shows how to set up the grinder using a bevel gauge and how to hold the tool to achieve the proper grind angle. She also grinds away the bottom the gouge behind the tip which allows her to make tight cove cuts with the tool.
    The overall production of the DVD was very good. At the beginning of the presentation Cindy did not appear to be fully at ease. This could be excused as Cindy is an artist, not an actor, but once she became engrossed in familiar territory she became more relaxed. The camera work was outstanding. Cindy's comments and instruction were clearly understood and heard. There was, however, an indefinable pulsating motor sound that occasionally could be heard in the background. It was mildly distracting at times, but it never prevented me from clearly understanding what was being said.
    In some of the DVD's I have seen, the demonstrator took shortcuts or ignores basic safety precautions. I was pleased to see that Cindy always wore safety glasses and a turners smock to cover any loose clothing and protect herself.
    As I stated at the start of the review, Cindy Drozda's Elegant Finials DVD will become the how-to benchmark for finial design and production. It's hard to find fault with an artist of Cindy's caliber and the sharing of her talent will enlighten those of us who seek to improve our skills.

. . . Bill Clark