Mar 20 2012

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First Lathe Project: Toy Tree

My son’s wooden train set came with some lame 2-dimensional trees cut out of flat stock. I thought now that I have a lathe, I could make a much more aesthetic tree. I came up with the idea for the simple project after experimenting with the different tools on some scrap wood. I found the easiest tool to just pick up and start using was the skew chisel. The angled head lends itself to making straight and tapered shapes — a stylized tree just seemed like a natural first project.

I chucked some scrap 1″ oak dowel into the lathe and used a skew chisel to pare it down so the stock was centered in the lathe. Next I drew two lines that approximately trisected the dowel. Then I just started removing material until I got something that looked good. Once I was satisfied, I smoothed the surface by running the tree through 100, 150, 240, and 300 grit sand paper while it was still in the lathe. I removed the top bit of the tree with a hand saw and rounded the top over with some sandpaper. It probably took me 15 minutes from dowel to finished tree. Not bad for a first project.

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