Rotary Spoon Stand


Rotary Spoon Stand:
Lee Stoffer, our very own ‘Mr Spoons’, takes a bit of a funny turn when he comes in from the cold to use his powered lathe.

Lee Stoffer, our very own ‘Mr Spoons’, takes a bit of a funny turn when he comes in from the cold to use his powered lathe

A bit of a break from the norm for me, but a good excuse to fire up the electric lathe for an interesting project for you to try. I adapted a French design for a porte cuillère, which would traditionally have hung above the dining table on a pulley, with a counterbalance weight to allow it to be pulled down to select spoons at meal times. I’ve designed this one to stand on the table, making a nice centrepiece which can be rotated to select your favourite spoon. Being a spoon carver, I’ve always got a good selection of wooden eating spoons to populate the stand and really enjoy using them. If carved spoons aren’t your thing, you could adapt the design to hold cooking utensils or cutlery. 

• Brown burr oak (Quercus robur) – one blank 220mm diameter by 45mm thick; another 130 x 35mm
• Laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides) – four blanks 40 x 180mm
• Rippled ash (Fraxinus excelsior) – one billet 250 x 60 x 60mm

Tools and equipment
• Electric lathe
• Chuck
• Turning tools
• Scraper
• Abrasive
• Ball bearing
• Raw linseed oil
• Plane
• 12mm and 25mm auger bits and drill
• Masking tape
• 12mm spanner
• Soft-faced hammer
• Cyanoacrylate and hot melt glue
• PPE – dust mask

1. I’ve chosen to use brown burr oak, laburnum and rippled ash for this project, which complement each other well. I harvested and processed these some time ago so they are all well seasoned, hence the need for power turning. Greener timber could of course be turned on a pole lathe, but some of the smaller parts would present an interesting challenge


2. First up for turning is the base of brown oak. Starting with a blank around 220mm diameter by 45mm thick, rough turn a domed shape and cut a mortise to accept the ball bearing that will give a smooth rotary action

3. Check the bearing fit then finish the base with a scraper and a light sanding. Apply a generous coat of raw linseed oil to bring out the colour of the grain. Wipe off any excess oil then burnish with a handful of shavings

Centre column and finial

4. Prepare the ash blank for turning by planing to around 55mm square then remove the corners to produce an octagonal blank. Mount between centres and turn a tenon on each end: one should be 25mm and the other to fit tightly into the inner race of the bearing, any access length on the tenon can be trimmed after test fitting

5. Turn the detail for the column, then re-cut the facets on the narrow end to maintain the octagonal detail. Column length (excluding tenons) is 150mm to accommodate eating spoons, but may be varied to suit other sizes. Turn a 25mm diameter section between the column and what will become the finial. Make it long enough to part off, leaving a 15mm long tenon on each piece. Sand and oil the column taking care not to oil the tenons

6. After parting off the column, you should be left with a short blank for the finial, with a 25mm tenon on each end. Chuck mount the tenon and round off the back of the octagonal shape back to the opposite tenon. Invert the blank in the chuck then turn the ball detail, sand and oil

Top hub

7. Now turn the top hub, from a 130 x 35mm blank of the brown burr oak. This is where the holding pegs will be mounted. Start by boring a 25mm hole through the blank that will accept the tenons from the column and finial; use this as the chuck mounting. Leave at least 18mm of flat area in the centre of the circumference to accommodate the mortises for the pegs and mark a centre line. Divide the circumference into 12 equal sections and mark the centre line on each of these sections to give drilling positions for the peg mortises. If your lathe has an indexing function, this will be easy. I lined up a reference point marked on the lathe, with the index marks on the back of a chuck by eye, using the toolrest set on centre to guide the pencil mark

8. With the positions marked, 12mm holes can be drilled to accept the peg tenons. Hold the hub in a vice using a rag to prevent marking it with the jaws. Take care to ensure it is held vertically and that each hole is drilled in line with the centre of the hub


9. The trickiest bit comes next: the turning of 12 matching pegs from laburnum to fit into the hub.
The contrast between the heartwood and sapwood looks good, so try to include a little bit of both in each piece. Three pegs can be turned from blanks roughed out at around 40 x 180mm. Allow a length of 50mm for each peg plus spare for parting and holding. Make sure you wear a good dust mask when working with laburnum as it contains nasty toxins that could cause serious health issues

10. Draw the profile onto some masking tape which has been applied to the toolrest. This acts as
a guide to help maintain consistency

11. First, tackle the tenons, making them long enough to part off and leaving at least 12mm length on each. Use a 12mm spanner as a quick check for sizing

12. Next, cut the trumpet horn shape into the blanks, keeping the end with the widest diameter at 35mm, with 5mm of thickness then tapering to leave a 1mm step down to the tenon

13. It’s prudent to turn a couple of extra pegs so the best matching set can be selected. After the initial shaping, mount each peg individually to cut a nice concave profile into the face and bevel the front edge. Sand and oil at this stage; the tenon being in the chuck helps keep the oil from contaminating it for gluing later

Final assembly

14. When the oil is finally dry, the completed parts will be ready for assembly

15. Set the bearing first with light taps from a soft-faced hammer, then tap the column into place and  add the hub, ready to receive the pegs

16. Use a set screw through a hole in the base, which is drilled on the lathe to ensure centre alignment. This screw keeps the column in place and makes it possible to service the bearing if necessary

17. Add a drop of thin cyanoacrylate (CA) glue to each peg before setting them into the hub

18. Finally, glue the hub and finial in place. Hot melt adhesive works well as a gap filler if the fit isn’t tight enough for the thin CA glue to secure the joint. Epoxy resin or PVA could be substituted if you prefer

19. The finished article, pictured with a taller version utilising the same timber combination. This project provides plenty of elegant storage for your favourite spoons


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