My wife was conscripted to create the wedding topper for her brother’s wedding cake, which was to be button themed. This quickly turned into a request for me to provide a 6” button for the couple to stand on. I was originally...
My wife was conscripted to create the wedding topper for her brother’s wedding cake, which was to be button themed. This quickly turned into a request for me to provide a 6” button for the couple to stand on. I was originally intending to carve it on a router table with round-over bits, but I struggled with how to make the inside profile. Because I lack the artistic ability, regardless of tools involved, to turn a block of wood into something recognizable without detailed plans, I pulled out a caliper and measured and sketch-up’d a button, then scaled it up. At this point I realized that the curves weren’t even close to full round-overs, and this was unquestionably a lathe project.
But I don’t have a lathe. I’ve never turned anything. Rather than listen to my internal this-is-probably-going-to-end-poorly-o-meter, I grabbed my workmate, an old craftsman motor with a threaded spindle adapter, some clamps, and a plug from a 3” hole saw. I cut out a disc of poplar with my scroll saw, and screwed it to the plug with a pair of cut-down screws. I managed to attach it in such a way that the screw holes eventually were drilled out to become the button holes.
Next problem—no lathe tools. I had some fairly sharp carving tools that were so cheap that I didn’t care if I destroyed them, but the “pop” when I barely touched one to the spinning wood told me to put them away. Next up, some worthless chisels I picked up at the dollar store for sharpening practice (well, someday). These had enough metal in them that they didn’t scare me to try, but I didn’t expect much because they’re completely dull. Surprisingly, shavings started coming off, and I quickly saw how so many people can get addicted to turning. It ended up a little rough in spots, but honestly I expected much less from my first attempt.
The only thing I really was a little disappointed in was that I was hoping for a little more of the poplar green. The finish is clear spray lacquer, but it seems to have hidden the color completely. I was trying to keep the color lighter and brighter to match the cake.