Woodturned Globe Ornament

Learn how to make this fantastic holiday gift

Woodturned Globe Ornament

Step by step procedure

Woodturned Globe Ornaments are a great gift for someone during Christmas or really any holiday or special event.  They're also a challenging project for most woodturners.  You can make these as difficult as you'd like.  While you can follow this article to the letter, there's no need to!  Don't have any tools to hollow the 'globe' out with?  Don't!  Just realize, that your ornament will be a bit heavier.

The point is ... just adapt this project to your skills, tools and what it's going to be used for.  Here we go ....

The Globe

IMG_0109.JPG (38774 bytes) I start out by roughing a piece of wood (Kentucky Coffee tree here) to a cylinder and putting a tenon on one end.
IMG_0110.JPG (42196 bytes) Then turn the wood around and put that tenon into a chuck. I'm using a scroll chuck here but you can use a jamb chuck if you want or whatever else you can dream up to hold the wood securely.
IMG_0111.JPG (38155 bytes) I pull the tailstock up to support the wood whenever possible.  I've formed a rough "squashed" globe shape on the end.  This shape lends itself to easier fitting of the cap and drop finial (described below) to the globe as you don't have to undercut those 2 other pieces as much to fit well.
IMG_0112.JPG (38285 bytes) Pulled the tailstock out of the way and have drilled a 1/4" hole all the way through the globe.  Use whatever size hole you want to fit your hollowing tools and how large of a cap and drop finial you'll be making.
IMG_0114.JPG (39070 bytes) I'm using a homemade shear scraper hollowing tool here.  This tool get things started...
IMG_0115.JPG (42809 bytes) .... and this other tool finishes up the hollowing.  It doesn't take much to hollow these things out. Get it as thin as you dare.  It's just to lighten the thing up so it doesn't weigh down a tree or whatever it'll be hanging from.
IMG_0117.JPG (31505 bytes) Hollowing complete, I sand the outside up to around 600 (for this wood).  Do as much of each side of this globe as you can.  You can always hand sand it later but that's a pain.
IMG_0118.JPG (32547 bytes) Put some finish on there if you want right now.  This is a friction polish.  You can always just wait until everything is complete and the ornament is glued together by using a spray finish if you want too.
IMG_0119.JPG (34620 bytes) Here's the backside (what will be come the bottom of the ornament) of the globe.  I'm showing a thin 1/16" skew here (also commonly called a "parting tool") that I'll use to cut down until I get into that hole we drilled earlier with the 1/4" drill bit.
IMG_0120.JPG (40368 bytes) I'm going at a slight angle to match the curve of the rest of the globe.  I do want the top and bottom of the globe (where the holes are) to be close to flat so the cap and drop finial will sit well.
IMG_0121.JPG (44521 bytes) What will become the top of the globe.  Notice that the hole is a little larger than when we first drilled it.  That just happens sometimes when hollowing through it.  So plan for that.  You'll ream it out.
IMG_0122.JPG (41529 bytes) What will become the bottom of the globe.  There's no finish on the very bottom but that's not a problem. The top of the drop finial will cover that much.
IMG_0123.JPG (34683 bytes) A side view.

The Drop Finial

IMG_0124.JPG (44590 bytes) On to the cap and drop finial.  I'm using some spalted maple here.  Rough to round and put it into a chuck as well. Don't have to use a chuck but it's sure easier!  Again, I use the tailstock as much as I can as you can see here.
IMG_0125.JPG (32481 bytes) I've started at the "end" or what will be the bottom of the drop finial and just making shapes.  I almost exclusively use a skew for such things but you can use whatever you want.  A small shallow-fluted gouge (commonly called a "spindle gouge") works well here too.
IMG_0126.JPG (33638 bytes) Do a little bit, sand it, and put a finish on it as you work up the drop finial.  That is, if you're not just going to spray a finish on it later or perhaps dip the whole thing into a finish and then let it drip dry.  Almost to the top of the drop finial here so I have to take a measurement....
IMG_0127.JPG (36377 bytes) I'm measuring the hole in the globe that the drop finial will insert into.  It should be 1/4" because that's the drill bit I used.  However, that's not always the case because of blowouts and the thing chipping or etc.  So, be sure to measure it AND the flat-ish portion around it that doesn't have any finish on it.  You'll want to cover that with your drop finial as well.
IMG_0128.JPG (29796 bytes) Transfer the measurements to your drop finial and form your tenon.
IMG_0129.JPG (29044 bytes) It looks like in this picture that I went too far.  I guess that's because I don't have the calipers very close to the tenon I made.  You want the tenon to fit snugly into the globe hole but not tight.  Different rates of expansion/contraction between the two woods can cause cracks!  It's not the tenon that's going to hold the thing together. It's the glue.  The tenon just aligns things.
IMG_0130.JPG (33937 bytes) Showing the use of a 1/8" skew (again, commonly called a "parting tool") that I used to form that tenon.
IMG_0131.JPG (28680 bytes) Making my careful cuts.
IMG_0132.JPG (28346 bytes) I switched to the 1/16" skew again to form my undercut.  It doesn't take much for this kind of globe design.

The undercut portion doesn't have to look pretty.  Just the rounded over portion (largest diameter of the drop finial here) needs to be looking good, sanded, and finished as it's the only part of it that's going to show.  The rest will be hidden and glued.

IMG_0133.JPG (29814 bytes) Yet another shot of it.  You could very well use a larger skew (1/2") to do this as long as you have enough room between where you're wanting to cut and the rest of the wood on the left side.  Just be careful not to take too bit of a bite at a time.  A full 1/2" cut at a time on this small of wood will easily rip it right off the lathe!

The Cap

IMG_0137.JPG (43949 bytes) I measure the diameter of that drop finial.  I want, normally, the diameter of the drop finial as it touches the globe to be the same for the cap too.
IMG_0138.JPG (36026 bytes) I transfer that diameter to the wood for the cap and make a sizing cut to that diameter (actually, it's just slightly larger so I can sand, etc. it down to exactly the same size).
IMG_0134.JPG (39702 bytes) On to the cap.  I measure the hole for what the cap will fit into.
IMG_0139.JPG (40052 bytes) I've cut away everything down to that sizing cut and made a rough cap "dome".  Now, I have to make that tenon that'll fit into the top of the globe.  You can do this with just a skew or a gouge.  Here I've used a gouge to get it rough.  I check the fit of that tenon by putting the globe up to it and trimming the tenon down a little if needed.
IMG_0140.JPG (37835 bytes) Once the tenon is the correct size, I start on the undercut.  It's easy to do with a small shallow-fluted gouge ("spindle gouge").  Again, it doesn't take much of an undercut here and it doesn't have to look pretty up in there for this kind of ornament.
IMG_0141.JPG (376304 bytes) You can either push the gouge from outter to inner like this.
IMG_0142.JPG (45221 bytes) Or use a pull cut from inner to outter.  Be careful with this cut.  Keep that flute pointing nearly horizontal or you'll get a good catch!  Some woods respond well to this and some don't.  Try either method to get the best cut you can.  If you want, you can simply put that globe up there to check how it'll fit and how tightly the outter part of that cap will sit against the globe. Adjust things as needed.
IMG_0144.JPG (33497 bytes) I finished the cap as much as possible and parted it off.
IMG_0145.JPG (36174 bytes) Checking how it looks.  Terrible, frankly.  I haven't finished the top of the cap yet, though!
IMG_0146.JPG (50211 bytes) Use the rest of the wood left in the chuck to make yourself a jamb chuck.  Just a hole the size of the tenon on the cap...
IMG_0147.JPG (38742 bytes) .... and press fit it in there.
IMG_0148.JPG (37456 bytes) If it is too loose or it loosens up, just put a paper towl around that tenon and press it into the hole again.  It'll be tight then.
IMG_0149.JPG (36025 bytes) Do whatever decoration you want on the top of the cap, sand and finish.
IMG_0150.JPG (33195 bytes) Glue it all together.  Here  you can see the cap.  It's a different style than the drop finial  (next picture) just to show that each style (among many styles) can fit fairly flush with the globe.  What you'll also see is that the cap and the drop finial are slightly rounded as it meets the globe.  This is by design.  It's a whole lot easier to get a good looking fit this way and it looks kind of neat too.
IMG_0151.JPG (35667 bytes) Here's the drop finial. Notice the difference in style from the cap.  The cap was replaced with a style that fits the drop finial after these photos.

That's it.  Making a few dozen more today.....