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Project: Woodturning Offset Candelabras
By Ray Bissonette
Snyder, NY

I recently used my Highland Woodworking store credit from my Show Us Your Woodturning submission in the June 2013 issue of The Highland Woodturner, which featured multiple turned candelabras.

I used the credit toward the purchase of two Crown Turning Tools, a Heavy Duty Bowl Finishing Scraper and a 3/8" Spindle Gouge to replace my shrinking original gouge.

The gouge is narrower than I expected but does marvelous work in tight spots. However, extra care is critical because of tool vibration — considerable tool extension over rest and narrow stock conspire to cause this. I can't get as close as needed with the the toolrest because of the wide arc of the offset rotation.

Curious, I tried it on some multi-axis offset candelabras to achieve an effect I had been considering but was unsure if I could do it. The effect was to emphasize and elaborate the fins where the axes shift along the stem. Doing the underside of the fin worked well but the top and more visible surface was a bit daunting. The Crown Gouge was the answer. I went from my usual method of de-emphasizing the fin to adding underside and topside detail achieved with the new gouge, as well as broader bases to allow for longer pieces.

Other factors remained pretty much the same: I use scraps and cutoffs (often branches) for stock; my chuck is a standard scroll Stronghold and work is freehand without tailstock support (I suspect this accounts for the total lack of kindred spirits in Western New York). To achieve adequate balance, functionally and aesthetics, I often laminate or bond scrap stock to the base before rounding. Wood is green, dry or somewhere in between. Lamination is sometimes an expedient to gain thickness, but invariably presents surprise outcomes in appearance because of the offsets. I measure very little except for the cup size to accept a tea light, the base for stability, and the stem widths for aesthetic purposes. A spindle speed of 1000 rpms seems to work for me. My finished pieces range in length from 8 to 13 inches (each increment in length, holding speed and stem diameter constant, increases whip and risk of snap exponentially).

Wood stock in the photos below includes, cherry, oak, walnut, mahogany, maple, lacewood scraps, green sumac with decayed core (not recommended), dyed laminates, Rose of Sharon, and, most recently, mahogany and baltic birch segmented plywood. Current experiments include embedding the shaft in a separate base to achieve sufficient weight and diameter for stability. This enables me to work with longer stock without sacrificing balance and/or simulating the appearance of a crankshaft. To compensate for added length, I slightly thicken the axis diameter to prevent centrifugal force fracture and (not infrequently) careless tool presentation.

I profiled the edge of the gouge to my version of an Irish grind.

A friend of mine helped me make a video to demonstrate my method for off-center spindle turning, which you can view here: Multi-Axis Spindle Turning.

You can email Ray at rbissone@buffalo.edu . You can also see more of his work at his personal website, bevelrider.com .

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