Popular Woodworking 2007-12 № 166, страница 57

Popular Woodworking 2007-12 № 166, страница 57
At the Lathe


Finger Tops

Fun to turn and pretty to look at, these little spinners will enchance your skills.


ops are the atoms of woodturning; so simple, yet you can do so many things with them. Simple or fancy, they are fun to make, and wonderful gifts for anyone, on special

occasions or no occasion

at all.

Method One

There are at least two basic ways to make a top. You can mount a single piece of wood, about 2" square by 21/2" long, and turn the entire top, disc and stem from this one piece.

Small limbs, cut to length, also work well, as long as the pith is not exactly in the center. The advantage of this kind of top is that there is virtually no prep, and the turning is simplified in that all cuts are made from large to small diameter, as with any other spindle.

Disadvantages would include wasting a good deal ofwood, as most of the piece would be turned away. And because this kind of top is generally turned between centers, it's not possible to part off both points cleanly, so you may have some shaping or sanding to do (to make them sharp and concentric) after the piece is off the lathe.

Method Two

The second major category of tops is made by gluing a dowel through the center of a flat disc of wood, then mounting the dowel into a chuck for turning. Advantages include getting more tops out of a given amount of wood, the pleasing contrast between the different woods (of disc and dowel), and ease of mounting and parting off.

Disadvantages would be having to turn the disc from the center out (if the grain of the disc runs perpendicular to the axis of rotation - and the dowel- as described here) but the stem from outside in. Also, there is some prep involved. For me, this kind of top is better because I get many more tops out of a given

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Spinning tops. There are a vast number of decorative and material possibilities when turning finger tops. Exotic woods, bone, antler, plastics and even countertop composites can be turned into these fun little gifts. To add an extra decorative touch, consider gluing up contrasting woods for blanks, adding beads around the edges, or burning a design the wood.

amount of material, and it's how I've always made them.

To make these tops, you need scraps of wood about V2" thick x 2" wide x 2" long. Thicker scraps can be sliced on the band saw to appropriate thicknesses after drilling the holes. The grain runs lengthwise in the scraps; i.e., they are just very small boards, not crosswise slices of thicker boards, the grain will be perpendicular to the stem of the top.

After drilling and trimming the pieces, glue a piece of dowel 3/s" diameter x 2V2" long through the hole in the disc. Then mount this on the lathe and turn as described in the photos on the following pages.

Plethora of Possibilities

Once you have mastered the basic procedures, many variations are possible. I've made tops larger and smaller than these, double- or triple-decker tops, tops with beads, painted or woodburned tops, and tops made of all kinds of odd materials including bone, antler, horn, plastic, countertop composites, glued-up stock with contrasting woods and more. See how many you can come up with; they will provide you with hours of fun both at the lathe and afterward.

Judy, author of two turning books and many articles, has been turning since 1985. She teaches and demonstrates her skills throughout the United States and Canada.

82 ■ Popular Woodworking December 2007

photos by al parrish

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