Furniture turnings involve not only unique skills and technique used specifically for these projects, but also have to be clearly reproducible to make identical piece. Techniques that reproduce simple replicas is often undesirable when making unique art pieces, but when you have a need for four identical legs it clearly a useful skill. These is a large number of techniques and process for producing these piece, and an endless stream of new ideas and old systems available for woodturners.
Projects such as table legs or balusters require turning multiple pieces so that they appear identical to each other. This task can be sufficiently frustrating to inspire some turners to invest considerable sums of money in a lathe duplicator.
One of the more intriguing capabilities of the lathe is making half or “split” turnings that are most often used as decorative features on other projects. Split turnings can be stand-alone projects such as wall sconces, brackets of whatever you can imagine.
Wood columns are frequently made to simulate the ancient Greek and Roman stone columns. These architectural forms were perfected thousands of years ago. They fall into four basic styles or "orders": Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, but all designs consist of three main parts: a shaft (sometimes fluted), a capital, and a base.
From a carpenter/cabinetmaker I got an order to turn and twist 6 columns of oak. These columns were meant to be decoration parts on a great wall cabinet in a pub. This job took great strength of my knowledge and experience as well as the possibilities of my lathe.
The mention of this Instant Replication (IR) Method in the Tormek manual is rather small, and may escape the notice of some readers. The value of this technique is substantial in terms of time and tool life.
Although there are many types of furniture which do not employ turnings, the development of furniture design and the art of spindle turning are inextricably linked. Historically, before the use of rotating head planing machines, or even table saws, turning was perhaps a quicker way to produce a finished part. Some styles of furniture, such as Windsor chairs, do not require the stock to be squared, but I will primarily discuss the turning of squares in this article.
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