Finials for Mortals

Tall slender delicate finials are appropriate for many types of turned projects from Christmas Ornaments to hollow forms, to certain styles of lidded boxes to miniature bird houses and many others. They are typically made from ebony or African blackwood, but can be turned from just about any hardwood commonly used elsewhere it turning.

Many folks are intimidated when it comes to thin delicate spindle work. There is no need to be nervous and it is easier than you probably think when you know a few simple secrets. I will share a few of mine below.


  1. Tools
    1. I turn delicate finials with only two tools, ˝” spindle gouge and 3/8” spindle gouge. I do often rough down with my speed gouge, but you don’t have to if you don’t have one. Use any spindle roughing gouge you already have.
    2. I use a fingernail grind with the wings pulled pretty far back. That way they will clear when I apply my “Steep and deep” cutting methods.


  1. Special techniques
    1. It is much easier when both ends are supported. Some turners remove the tailstock completely and although it can be done that way, most of us will produce better results with less broken finials when we can turn between centers with both ends supported. Sometimes with particularly short finials (less than 4”) use of the tailstock is unnecessary.
    2. Using a cup center is all you need. Virtually all stock live centers come with a removable point. Use a knockout bar to remove the point and you have a built-in cup center. Or, if you have an accessory cup center that will work as well.
    3. Support, don’t compress. First turn a taper on the tailstock end of the finial blank which will fit into the cup center. Remove the point if you haven’t already, and bring it into contact with the wood. When everything is firmly in contact, back the tailstock off ever so slightly so that the work piece is still supported but not being compressed.
    4. Work from the tailstock end (thinnest most delicate part) toward the headstock. As a general rule, finish turn and sand as you go leaving as much thickness as practical to the left of your work for support. It is difficult to return to a delicate section to make more cuts once you have removed a significant amount of material to the left. You will generally encounter excessive chatter and vibrations resulting in rough cuts and broken spindles when attempting to go back.
    5. When I have completed almost all of the turning and sanded the entire piece, a small waste piece will remain inserted into the cup center. I turn it through (parting cut with my spindle gouge) with everything in place, then remove the tailstock and finish sand the tip to its final shape.
    6. If I’m applying finish on the lathe, I would do it now.
    7. I would have turned the mounting tenon (I like 3/8” diameter most of the time) next to the headstock and all that is left to do is part my finial off.
  2. Here is a YouTube video I prepared some time ago which will help you with these methods. https://youtu.be/4o4_4ARtsOc Anyone should be able to create stunning finials with a little practice using these methods because wherever you go, there you are.


More related stuff for your consideration. http://www.coolhammers.com/new_page_15.htm






Writing to you this week from just outside St Louis, Mo. preparing for yet another woodworking show. If you are in the area, Sweet Janice and I would love to say hello when you stop by the booth at The Gateway Center in Collinsville, Il. It was a very long drive from the Washington, D.C. area on Monday, but we made it in one piece. We did encounter some slippery conditions in Illinois and managed to turn sideways a couple of times as relatively high speeds which earned a “Nice Recovery” from my sweetie, at least that is what I remember her saying. The first incident occurred just after passing a wreck with the victim on its roof in the median so it could have been worse. We resolved a small mechanical issue when we arrived at our destination. Thank God for Ford dealerships.


Here is my inspiration for this week’s message:

Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.



This Week's Sale Items-

10% off entire web site.

Must use coupon code

"feb10" at checkout



If you are able to visit us at the Woodworking Show, we have added approximately 100 new turning items in our booth this year. I have finished samples of the Laser Cut Kits, etc. I have samples of Edge Lit Signs I will be adding to the line in May 2016

Show Sweepstakes

I would like to announce that this year for the first time, Ron Brown’s Best, LLC will have a monthly sweepstakes drawing specifically for visitors at the various shows. You will have to enter at the show in our booth. Ask Sweet Janice for an entry form. First Prize is a $250 Gift Certificate for anything on our web site (we will have over 50 new items by the end of the show season). Second Prize is a $100 Gift Certificate for anything on our web site. Third Prize is a $50 Gift Certificate for anything on our web site. You need not be present to win. We will have different drawings for January, February, March and April. We will announce the winners on the web site and in one of the following newsletters.


As always there are tons of free stuff in the FreeDownloads section. Wishing you a Happy, Prosperous and Blessed New Year,


Ron, Janice & Chris Brown


  We will be leaving our Internet business in capable hands as we hit the road for 13 weeks beginning January 8th in Baltimore Maryland.  Here is a link to The Woodworking Shows schedule www.thewoodworkingshows.com

You may have noticed that some items have disappeared from www.ronbrownsbest.com, in the last week or so. I hate to admit it, but we cannot keep up with the demand for certain items and since it is the show season, we had to remove them temporarily. We will re-list those items and many more when we can fill your orders in a timely manner.

"Free Downloads HERE"