November 2008

Here’s a great video on bottle stopper turning with a little something extra.  I hope you enjoy:-)


Bottle stoppers are a fun and inexpensive project for the wood lathe and are a great way to use up those fancy scraps of wood you’ve been saving.  Precut bottle stopper blanks can also be purchased for very little money and are a great way to get a variety of different turning woods.  


BOTTLE STOPPERS - Various Exotic Woods

BOTTLE STOPPERS - Various Exotic Woods



For this project you can use any type of hardwood, but in my opinion, figured wood, burls and highly detailed woods look the best.  Vedder Mountain Hardwoods has a good supply of figured and spalted maple as well as maple and birch burl available.   

Each stopper consists of three parts. A turning blank which is normally 1 1/2″x1 1/2″x2 1/2″, a 3/8″ piece of hardwood dowel and a stoppers cork with a 3/8″ hole in the center for attaching it to the turned top.  

The tools and equipment needed for turning bottle stoppers are minimal. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • A wood Lathe
  • Tools – a gouge, skew and parting tool
  • A chuck if you have one (otherwise you can turn the bottle stoppers between centers)
  • 3/8″ drill bit
  • Wood turning blanks
  • 3/8″ Hardwood dowel cut to 2 1/2″ 
  • Bottle stopper corks (can be purchased at most wood turning stores)
  • Thick CA glue or epoxy
  • sandpaper in a variety of grits
  • Friction Polish to finish your bottle stopper or Tung Oil works as well  


One you have all your materials, you can begin by cutting your blank to just a hair longer than the size of your finished bottle stopper. Next you can mark the center of your blank on each end.  Then you’ll need to drill a 3/8″hole in one end 3/4″deep.  Insert some glue into the hole and tap the dowel into the blank with a hammer or mallet.  Don’t worry about the dowel being to long… once the bottle stopper is finished, you’ll trim it to the right length to apply the cork.

Insert the dowel end of the blank into the chuck leaving 3/4″ of the dowel exposed (the 3/4″ is the part of the dowel that will be glued into the cork and you want to avoid damaging it in the chuck). Then bring the tailstock up and tighten it into place.

You can also turn these bottle stoppers between centers.  Tap the spur center into the marked end of turning blank using a mallet and insert it into the headstock.  Then bring the tailstock up and center it on the tip of the dowel and tighten it into place.  

Next you start turning just as you would with any other project. Be sure and keep your tools good and sharp while turning your bottle stopper and take your time … if you have a tool catch it may ruin your blank by snapping the dowel.  

After you’ve finishing turning your piece, you can start your sanding.  I recommend sanding up to 800 grit for a nice glossy finish.  Now you’re ready to apply your finish.  I like Crystal Caot frition polish as it’s easy to apply on the lathe and dries very quickly.  Another great finish is tung oil, but you’ll need to apply several coats to get a really glossy finish.  

You can now remove your bottle stopper from the lathe.  Measure the length of your cork to the dowel and make a mark. Trim off the extra dowel.  Once you’ve done this apply a small amount of glue to the wide end of the cork base and inside the hole in the cork.  Quickly slide the cork over the dowel until it’s snug against the bottom of the bottle stopper. When the glue has completely dried you can clean up the end of the dowel by touching it gently on a belt sander until it’s nice and even with the cork.

Bottle stoppers make wonderful unique gifts for Christmas or any occasion. They’re also a best seller at craft fairs if you want to turn for some extra money.

Happy Turning 🙂

Here’s a great gift idea for your Christmas turning.  This is everything you’ll need to turn a one of a kind ice cream scoop. Make it as fancy or as simple as you like 🙂

Brass Ice Cream Scoop Hardware Kit
Make your own deluxe dessert disher. Get creative with a custom-turned wooden handle, then attach this solid-brass scoop and ferrule for the perfect finishing touch. Instructions for turning a handle and assembling the ice cream scoop are included.

Brass Ice Cream Scoop Hardware Kit

Brass Ice Cream Scoop Hardware Kit

In addition to this kit you will need the following:

Wood: Approximately 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ x 6″ of a strong hardwood such as maple, cherry, walnut, oak, or yellow birch. Of the imported hardwoods bubinga, purpleheart, gongola alves and cocobolo make wonderful handles.

Ice Cream Scoop Wood Turning

Ice Cream Scoop Wood Turning

If you’d like to turn your handle out of highly figured big leaf maple, you can purchase the blanks directly from Christina at Vedder Mountain Hardwoods for $3.00 each by leaving a comment on this post.

Turning tools: Spindle roughing gouge, spindle/detail gouge, parting tool and optional skew chisel. A pair of outside calipers with rounded edges on the measuring points is helpful in fitting the ferrule.

Drill bit: 3/8″ brad point or regular twist bit.

Chucks: Depending on how you will hold and drill the piece (see below),you may need a scroll-type chuck for your headstock and a Jacobs-style chuck for your tailstock.

Glue and finish: The tang can be glued into the handle with epoxy or a thick type of CA (“super glue”). The finish could be with a drying type of oil such as pure tung oil or boiled linseed oil. An oil and varnish blend such as Rockler’s Nordic Oil also looks great. For a film type of finish (for extra protection against moisture and a higher sheen finish) try a wiping type polyurethane or a gel varnish.



1) Submitted by Phil, from Newman Lake, WA on 11/24/2008

Customer Rating: 
Initial order was for a dozen…handles turned from various exotic woods (Christmas gifts) will soon order more…good product.

2) Submitted by Steve, from Fort Wayne, IN on 11/20/2008

Customer Rating: 
First class all the way! These are solid and blemish-free, and the instructions were concise and easy to follow. I’ve already ordered more.

3) Submitted by Chuck Daggs, from Mesa, AZ on 11/11/2008

Customer Rating: 
Solid, defect free brass casting, with highly polished scoop and ring. Instructions useful and complete. Expect a lot of happy recipients this Christmas.

4) Submitted by Bill Nash, from Kingsport, TN on 11/10/2008

Customer Rating: 
I turned handles for the Brass Ice Cream Scoops. They turned out great and will make excellent Christmas gifts.

5) Submitted by N, from Springfield, VA on 9/21/2008

Customer Rating: 
Top quality and great instructions.

This is a gift that is destined to become an heirloom and will be loved by everyone! Enjoy 🙂

Every wood turner knows that Robert Sorby tools are among the best for turning.  If you’re looking for a great gift idea, here’s one you won’t be able to resist. A 6 piece Robert Sorby tool set for only $149.99… 50%off regular price. There’s not many of these sets left, so get yours while their still available.

6 Piece Sorby Turning Tool Set
We have a limited number of these top-quality Robert Sorby turning sets at a great price. Contains all the essential tools for spindles and bowls, making it the perfect set for beginners and veterans alike. Highly polished flutes ensure a smooth finish, while precisely profiled edges provide the best possible cutting characterisics. Each Sorby tool is carefully hardened and tempered to its specific set of needs, and the handles are guaranteed to never loosen. Includes a 3/4″ roughing gouge, 3/8″ bowl gouge, 3/8″ spindle gouge, 1/2″ round-nose scraper, 3/4″ skew with oval shank and 1/8″ parting tool. Made in Sheffield, England.
Limited Quantities! While supplies last!

6 Piece Sorby Turning Tool Set

6 Piece Sorby Turning Tool Set

You can also find new and used Robert Sorby Wood Turning Tools at Woodturner Supply

Spalted maple has to be one of the most beautiful woods available for both wood turners and luthiers.  It’s unique characteristics make each piece a treasure.    


Spalted Maple Guitar Top Bookmatched Set

Spalted Maple Guitar Top Bookmatched Set


What is spalted maple?

Spalted maple is created when the wood is infected by a variety of fungi.  Each unique fungus creates a different effect in the wood during the natural process of decay. If the wood is caught and processed at the right time, before it gets soft and punky, it can create a stunning mosaic of light and dark areas most often bordered by dark lines (inklines).  This provides a striking visual contrast.

Is spalted maple foodsafe?

After researching this topic in great length… this is what I found.  If the wood is kiln dried, the fungi will go dormant or die.  As long as you apply a durable foodsafe finish to your turning, the wood should be foodsafe. However, after having said that, I could not find any research with a solid conclusion either way.  I also could not find any reported illnesses from using spalted wood in this manner. The only cautions I could find regarding the use of spalted wood were workshop related. The dust from the spalted maple and the warm damp climate of your lungs make for an ideal breeding ground for the fungi to come back to life.  When you’re cutting any kind of spalted wood, please protect your lungs and use a respirator mask for your own health.

Here’s a list of some foodsafe finishes you may want to try:

Pure Tung Oil.  Tung oil comes from the nut of the china wood tree. Requires many coats and provides good water-resistance. 

Walnut Oil.  This oil is pressed from the nuts of the walnut tree and is sold as a salad oil in health food stores or grocery stores.  It’s easy to apply but requires frequent reapplication.

Mineral Oil.  This oil is available for sale as a laxative in drug stores and as a wood finish in hardware stores. It’s simple to apply but requires frequent reapplication and is not very water resistant.

Beeswax. This wax can be mixed with an oil like lavender to create a pleasant smelling finish. This smells great but is not very water resistant.

Carnauba Wax. This wax is from the Brazilian palm tree. It’s a harder wax than beeswax and a little more water resistant.

Shellac.  Harvested in India, shellac is a secretion from the lac bug. The most waterresistant variety is super blond shellac in flake form and can be found in most hardware stores and woodworking catalogs.

Raw Linseed Oil. This oil is pressed from flax seeds. It has a very long curing time and low water resistance. Linseed oil also requires frequent reapplication.


Spalted Maple Bookmatched Set

Spalted Maple Bookmatched Set


Quality spalted maple can be very expensive and is getting harder and harder to find.  Vedder Mountain Hardwoods has a good supply of both turning blocks in spalted curly maple and spalted maple guitar tops available. You can purchase direct through their website or from their eBay store.

As another Thanksgiving Day approaches, we have so many things to be thankful for. Personally, I have my wonderful husband Mike who supports all the crazy things I do, our precious 9 year old daughter Anna-Marie who was born 3 months early weighing only 875g and is a true gift from God, and my health.

Mike and I would like to wish all of our readers a wonderful thanksgiving filled with peace, hope and change for the upcoming year.

All the best,

Mike and Christina

This is the final part to this series of videos. This section covers drilling and hanging the Christmas ornament. I found the instructions in these videos to be very clear and concise. I hope you enjoyed them.

Happy turning 🙂

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