This was a fun piece that I made for a friend. A lathe turned gavel is easy to make, and is a great project for the lathe. A lathe is a very interesting tool. It only takes a short time to become good at wood turning. However, there is so much to learn that you can spend a lifetime mastering it.
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Make your turned gavel in two pieces. The head, and the handle. For this project, I selected Oak, because it has good durability and detailed grain. The first step is to drill a hole for the handle in the middle of the head blank. I did this with a 5/8″ drill, knowing that I would be turning a 5/8″ tenon at the end of the handle.
If you have a chuck, you can turn a 2.5″ cylinder that is 4″ to 5″ long, and then use a parting tool to place your rings and other decorative features. Search online for gavel pictures for inspiration, and you will find many great examples of fine woodworking.
Select a design that you like, or piece together elements from a several designs. Draw out your measurements for the different sections on paper, and transfer that to your cylinder on the lathe.
Once you are done turning the head section, part it close to coming off, but leave a small section in place for finishing on the lathe.
Finishing Your Lathe Turned Gavel:
Finish the gavel with a contrast stain. First, apply a very dark brown or black stain to the entire piece. Then, after it dries, lightly sand or steel wool the piece to remove the coloring from the surface. This will leave dark coloring only in the grain and pores. An alcohol or water base dye stain is the best for this type of staining.
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Next, apply a lighter colored earth tone stain, like an orange, red, yellow, or light brown. This will coat the flake, and warm up the color. Now you have a piece with deeply stained dark grain, and a light stain on the surface. This is called a contrast stain, and once you finish a piece with the technique, you will love it.
Repeat the process for the handle. Turn a nice pleasing shape, and then finish the piece on the lathe before parting it off.
To assemble the wooden gavel, there is really only one thing to be careful about. Look at the end of the handle, and see which way the grain lines are running.
When you insert the handle tenon into the head, make sure that the grain lines are parallel to the head. Rotate the handle inside the hammer piece to ensure good glue coverage, and stop when the lines are parallel. The reason for this is because the wood is stronger with the grain vertical. When the gavel is used, there is a far less likelihood of the handle snapping.
My Free PDF, the 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing explains hand applied finishes in a way that anyone can use to become a great wood finisher. This is a free download, and it will make the process very easy for the beginning woodworker.
If you have any questions on this Lathe Turned Gavel, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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