The shape is what really dictates the outcome of the piece. With this particular piece I used flexulosa burl for the base, with a mid-section of African blackwood, and French boxwood for the spindle. Flexulosa is a beautiful wood that comes to us from a range of small pacific islands close to Vanuatu, located northeast of Australia. It is a lovely wood to turn and takes an extremely high finish. Because I value the flexulosa, I glued a waste spigot onto the base piece in order not to waste much of the wood.
Make outside cut with bowl gouge
Use parting tool to flatten face
Glue block of blackwood base
Drill tenon hole in blackwood
Shape base with 1/2" spindle gouge
Blend transition from blackwood to finial
Shape accents with small skew
Cut pip from end
Clean bottom with skew
• Using the tailstock for support, mount the spigot with the flexulosa in a chuck.
• Make an outside cut using a 3⁄8″ bowl gouge with the flute leading towards the cut. You could use a spindle gouge but you will get a heavier cut initially with the bowl gouge.
• Position the tool rest across the face and make a cut with the gouge. The face must be perfectly flat to accept the blackwood (which will be added later). To obtain a flat surface use a parting tool.
• Using the tailstock to apply pressure, glue a piece of blackwood to the base. There is enough surface to the flexulosa and blackwood that they will bond and hold quite well. However, the surface area of the boxwood is very small and not large enough to hold it properly. As this will be the area that is most in contact with the rings, a tenon will provide additional support.
• Cut the tenon on the boxwood and drill a hole in the blackwood. This way there is a lot of gluing surface in an otherwise small area.
• Shape the base with a 1⁄2″ spindle gouge. At this point, only roughly shape the base as the finial has to be added and blended into the piece.
• Use a 1⁄8″ parting tool to turn a tenon onto one end of the boxwood, sizing for the required hole that was drilled into the blackwood. It is very important that you get a perfectly square shoulder. Use the toe of the skew to cut this shoulder.
• Using the tailstock as a clamp, glue the boxwood piece onto the base.
• Shape and blend the transition from the blackwood to the finial with a spindle gouge. For the majority of the finial, a skew will give the best cut possible.
• Use a small skew to highlight the accents.
• When the piece is shaped to conclusion remove the tailstock and cut the little pip from the end using the toe of the skew.
• Sand and finish using your favorite finish (I used Craftlac Melamine for this project).
• With a 1⁄8″ parting tool, part away the bulk of the wood on the waste side of the base. I had to sacrifice only a little of the flexulosa because I had the waste block
glued on. With the bulk of the wood removed, I slightly undercut the base using a skew.
• If done properly, when you reverse the piece you will not need to cut on the outside surface – you can just sand it.
• Flip the piece into the chuck with the jaws padded with tissue. You don’t need much holding power so you should not mark the piece with the jaws. Cut the last of the bottom with the toe of the skew.
I signed and finished the bottom of this ring holder, and gave it to my wife for Christmas. She loves it!