Crucial shop improvisations
Workshops are very similar to kitchens: both rooms house limited tool collections and woodworkers and chefs alike must improvise if key tools are missing. This project is a great example of this maxim. Don’t have a lathe? No problem-here’s a technique for occasional small-scale wood turning.
For smaller projects such as this, a drill lathe works well so long as it’s properly positioned. Place a 3/4″ thick scrap onto the left front corner of the workbench as a base. Then put a handscrew clamp flat on top of this with the jaws opening to the right to cradle the drill. Sit the drill on its back with the handle sticking straight up and the chuck pointing to the right. Clamp it down with a handscrew. Position the drill as close to the front edge of the workbench as possible, leaving room for the lathe tool rest. Clamp the woodscrew to the bench with both clamps. Make sure the drill is angled to spin the ring holder parallel to the tabletop. Chuck a bit into the drill and measure the distance from the bit to the bench in two spots. Adjust the drill until the bit is perfectly straight.
Grab a piece of scrap wood and hold it against the drill chuck on top of the bench. Draw a pencil line to match the chuck centre. Drive a finishing nail smack into the mark and cut the nail head off, leaving an 8″ stub. Bull-nose or chamfer one edge of the scrap piece for the tool rest.
Prepare the Blank
Begin by drilling a 3/8″ hole into one end of the 3″ walnut piece approximately 3/4″-deep. Drill a matching hole into the other piece of walnut and glue the pieces together using 1 1/2″ of a 3/8″ dowel. Make sure the pieces fit together tightly.
Once the dowel joint is dry, drill a 3/8″-dia.x 3/4″-deep hole into the base. Glue a 1 1/2″ dowel inside the hole. After the glue dries, remove all the corners with a rasp.
Next, tightly wrap the dowel stub with some electrical tape. Drill a hole into the ring holder at the other end. The overall size and length of the finishing nail stub in the tail stock determines the diametre and depth. Use a matching finishing nail as a bit.
Chuck the ring holder into the drill. Set the tail stock and screw it to your work surface. Then set the tool rest the same way, making sure it is square with the tail brace.
I wrapped a small piece of wire around the drill trigger and handle to control the speed. Tighten the wire one twist at a time until you get the right speed. Also, it’s a good idea to plug the drill into an extension bar with an on/off switch so you can easily control the power.
Turn the ring holder and slightly taper it. The base should be a little wider than the rings it will eventually hold. Don’t put your fingers between the spinning piece and the tool rest because your fingers can get pulled into it.
Finally, measure and cut a small, 2 x 2 square base and chamfer the edges. Attach it to the ring holder with glue or an embedded dowel.
Tools required: 1 3/8″ variable speed, reversible drill; 3/8″ bit; a wooden hand screw; two F-clamps; screws; hammer; pliers; saw; rasp; sandpaper; a face shield; lathe tools.
Materials required: a 3″ piece of 1″ x 1″ walnut stock with the grain running parallel to the length; a 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 3/4″ piece of walnut; a 3/4″-thick piece of scrap; a 4″-long piece of scrap wide enough for a tool rest; two pieces of scrap for the tail stock; approximately 4″ of a 3/8″ dowel; a finishing nail; screws; beeswax or any finish of your choice.