Turning a Finial



I initially learned the basics of turning a finial from Sir Myron Curtis, then took a class with Cindy Drozda, then by simply trying to see how delicate I could make them without being afraid of a few failures . . . just a couple of photos for now . . . I'll photo the process and tools the next time I turn a finial . . . I frequently African Blackwood - which I endorse as having earned its reputation as one of the finest - if not the finest - of turning woods . . . it's heavy and hard, but tough and ductile (ebony is much more brittle and open grained) . . . and with sharp tools, very little sanding is required . . . with it's closed grain and high oil content, you can burnish with a Scotch Brite pad or very fine sandpaper (1200 grit or higher) and get such a beautiful low luster shine that you'll find a finish unnecessary. I also use kingwood, tulipwood, desert ironwood or lately, Honduras rosewood burl for finial.


Some recent hollow forms with finials I turned


A finial in progress and the tools I use . . . a shallow fluted fingernail gouge with long shallow grind (~ 20 deg angle) and 2 drop nosed scrapers . . .

I use 4 basic tools (parting tool not pictured) . . . two shallow fluted spindle (fingernail) gouges with the heels ground off on my small belt sander (see above), one of which has a pretty long grind on it (approx 20 degree angle - I don't measure) . . . I sharpen freehand (minus any jig) and polish the back side on the sander . . . this is used for getting really sharp corners between elements. The other is closer to a standard fingernail gouge (with a little more of a flute) and again, the heel ground off. The other two tools I use are drop nosed scrapers - one larger (for the bigger finials) with 1/4" sqaure stock tool steel and a smaller one with 1/8" square stock.

I also use a much smaller spindle gouge ($3 variety at left below) and a single edge razor blade to get really sharp corners/elements


2 finial tools, single edge razor and homemade hollowing tools from drill rod (hardened) . . . not the best pictures since I was using the razor in one hand and taking a picture with my iPhone in my left hand, but you get the idea