Turn, turn, turn

So the next project I have in mind is in a new discipline: woodturning.  My lathe is an old Delta, circa 1935.  It was, in the hoary past, mounted on a shopmade stand, but it still has the original 1/4 hp motor which is plenty of power for the projects I make.  The only modification I’ve made to it has been to replace the drive belt with a Power-twist belt.  It slips a lot less under load, and gives me more torque.  So let’s stop talking tools and make something!  In this case, a rolling pin.


Start by finding the centers of your billet (by going across corners), and mount it between centers.  I prefer to use a live center, but a well-lubricated dead center works too.  I usually use a drive center on the headstock, because it’s lighter and easier on my old lathe than a scroll chuck.  This blank we’re using is cherry, and about 2 1/4″ square.  Using a roughing gouge, turn it down to a cylinder.  Once I’ve got that done, I’ll go ahead and make the knob on one end before I have to move the toolrest.  On the headstock end, I leave a sacrificial bit about 5/8″ long.  Turn that down to as small a diameter as you can, but be careful not to hit the drive center!  From that new shoulder, I make a mark 2″ in, and turn that section to about 1 3/4″ in diameter, and freehand a knob shape.  No pattern for it, but mine frequently resemble the front knob on my smoothing plane when I’m done.  Leave a fillet about 1/8″ long where the knob meets the main cylinder.  It gives it a more defined look.


Once that knob looks okay, I’ll move the toolrest down to the tailstock end.  I usually leave the sacrificial bit around 3/8″ down here.  Just be careful when forming your knob that you don’t go too far down in your shaping, or that little stub will break off and the workpiece will go flying.  It’s impressive, but best left unrepeated.


Now, the fiddly bit here is making sure that you have a consistent main cylinder so your dough is flattened evenly.  I size a couple of places to the smallest diameter on my rough-turned cylinder.  Then, I’ll gingerly touch off the high spots with a skew.  Check yourself with a straightedge to make sure there aren’t any low spots left.  Since we cut the knobs already, those areas shouldn’t be in your way. Once that’s done, go ahead and sand it on the lathe.  Make sure there aren’t any torn spots before you get done with the coarse grits.


Now, take the rolling pin over to the workbench and cut off the sacrificial stubs that the lathe was using to run.  I saw, then pare smooth, and sand to the right contour.


Finally, rag it with some mineral spirits to get the dust off, and once that’s dry, apply your finish.  Then you can try to use it for leverage for pie.  Why pie?  Because according to the Backroads Diner in Attica, Ohio, pie fixes everything.  I’ve not tried it on everything just yet, but I’m working on it.