Strett Nicolson – Christmas Trees

Club Meeting:13th November 2019
Report by: Bob Yandell

In keeping with the run up to Christmas Strett demonstrated how to turn a Christmas tree and depending on size it could be an ornament to hang on the tree or a standalone item for the table or mantel.

The process was based on spindle turning with off centre stages. The use of offcuts or short lengths of large diameter, greater than 40mm, dowel meant no wood will be wasted.

The demo was based on a piece of scrap pre turned to a cylinder with a diameter of 100mm + and a length of approximately 300mm. Spiggots are turned on both ends to fit 50mm jaws. The cylinder is then mounted in the chuck and with the tail stock up a marked out. Ensure the chuck jaws are tight. The demo was turning a tree with an overall height of approximately 240mm. Based on 1/3rds the first 1/3rd started 30mm from the face of the chuck and this was to be the tub and trunk of the tree. The remaining 2/3rds will be the tree.

Using the Parting tool a gap of 10mm deep and 20mm wide (indicative only) was created between the base of the “tub” and the chuck and a similar gap created between the top of the tree and the tail stock.

Back off the tail stock and mark 3 location on the circumference of a circle of 10mm radius equal distance apart using the indexing facility or if using a spur drive count the impressions.

Turn the Tub and Trunk:

Bring the tail stock up to the centre and again ensure chuck is firmly closed. Create the trunk using the parting tool and shape the tub, half wine barrel. Decorate the tub with “hoops” scored with skew and burnt.

Shape the Tree:

Using the roughing gouge, spindle gouge and skew create a cone profile from trunk to tree top but ensure the treetop is 10mm, approximately, and up to the gap created at the tail stock. The gap was created to enable this to be achieved and the spigot untouched.

Prepare for off centre turning:

Mark the tree off in 10mm increments from trunk end. Because you will be cutting on each of the index marks you will be cutting every 4th line on each off-centre position you could indicate the line to be cut with a different coloured pencil.

Off centre Cutting:

Back off the tail stock and loosen the chuck to enable the live centre to be located in the appropriate location, either number or colour code to ensure increment to be cut matched location of live centre.

Using the skew with the point to make the cut at the first increment and positioned at right angles to the cone make the cut to a depth of up to 5mm. Withdraw the skew and make a second cut at the same location but an angle to the first coming from the tree top side of the first cut thus forming a vee. Repeat and the next increment,4th or same colour, and so on the top of the tree approx. 3 – 4 times.

Repeat process for each index/off centre mark.

Tidy and finish:

Re position to centre on tail stock and at this point you can paint the vees created in colours of your choice. When dry take a skim cut with the skew to clean up any paint on areas outside the vee.

The tree can be parted off remembering to undercut the base so it can stand and should you wish the top of the tree can be carved to create a star or what ever you wish.


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