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 🙂