Snowman Quoits


Snowman Quoits:
Mark Baker shows how to turn these fun Christmas quoits.

Mark Baker shows how to turn these fun Christmas quoits

This project has three freestanding columns, which can be moved to any position and distance. To reflect the love all children have for snow, I have designed the columns as stylised snowmen. These snowmen need to be stable and to remain standing when hit by the quoits, so I have given them square bases. The snowmen can be made out of any suitable hardwood, and I used sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). It is durable and easy to turn, paint and colour as required. The rings were problematic in terms of their strength. To create something in solid wood that is not prone to snapping due to short sections of end grain might mean that they become too heavy if you increase the thickness and width of the timber to counter this problem. So, I decided to use high-quality, laminated birch-faced ply. It is strong and, because the ply is made of layers of wooden veneers presented at different angles to each other, it won’t break, even in smaller sections, as long as the laminates are orientated in the right direction. Just cut the rings from the face of the ply and the laminates will lie across the ring, giving the ring excellent strength.

Things you will need
• PPE: facemask/respirator
• Drive spur and revolving centre
• Chuck
• Beading and parting tool
• Thin parting tool
• Spindle roughing gouge
• Spindle gouge
• Abrasives, 120–400 grit
• Bowl gouge
• Skew chisel
• Disc sander (optional)
• Random orbital sander (optional)
• Paintbrushes
• Primer undercoat
• Gloss or satin paint
• Toy-safe pens

Making the snowmen

1. Working with a square section of wood, cut just over length to allow for a spigot to be cut at one end. Mount between centres. Use a beading and parting tool to cut the spigot on the tailstock end to fit your chuck. Then, measure up to the height required for the square, lower section of the snowman. Using a thin parting tool, cut into the square corners and down through them, stopping when you meet the solid inner section

2. Stop the lathe, remove the wood from the lathe and mount the spigot in the chuck. Use a spindle roughing gouge to block in the shape to the widest diameter required for the snowman, leaving the square base section alone. Note the square shoulders at the lowest part. Be wary of these when working. Once you have a cylinder, make a parting cut where the top of the snowman’s body will be. Cut to a depth that can be deepened later on, but shows clearly where you need to refine the body and head section

3. Use a spindle gouge to reduce the top section. I am using a pull cut here rather than a push cut. This is crude and may damage the surface, but it removes wood quickly

4. Measure and mark the position of the head section. Use the spindle gouge to roughly shape the head

5. Use the beading and parting tool to make a parting cut to the depth of the widest part of the snowman, in line with the mark on the toolrest

6. The body and head need refining according to the pattern, so I marked the relevant positions on the toolrest. Refine the body and head forms so that everything works in balance and proportion, and then sand

7. Remove the tailstock, and remove the waste wood not needed for the hat. Then, use the spindle gouge
to clean up the top. Multiple light cuts are best, due to the extended overhang of the work from the chuck

8. Remove the piece from the chuck, reverse it and hold the hat gently in the chuck jaws. Bring up the revolving centre to centralise everything and lock the piece in place. Undercut the base, leaving a solid outer rim so that the snowman is stable when placed on a surface. Remove the snowman from the lathe and carve off the pip left under the centre. Sand the underside smooth. Now make two more snowmen to match the first

Making the quoits

1. The block of ply for the quoits is laminated so that the ply is mainly faceplate-grain orientated. Mount between centres. (You can instead drill a hole and mount the block on a screwchuck or faceplate, using the tailstock to provide extra support.) Use a bowl gouge to true up the face and edge

2. Cut from both sides on the edge, so you don’t break off any splinters on the top and bottom faces. Reduce the diameter of the block to the size needed for the quoits

3. With the block mounted between centres, use the thin parting tool to make a few plunge cuts to create
a spigot that fits in the chuck. Once cut, remove the block from the lathe and mount on the chuck

4. Using the tailstock for support where you can, measure and mark the thickness of the rings required
for the quoits

5. Use the thin parting tool to part in to about 25mm depth on the first ring

6. Lay a skew on its side and use a scraping move to create a pronounced ‘V’ chamfer on the two corners created by the parting cut. I also chamfered the top corner

7. Repeat the process to make as many ring sections as required. In this case, I thought five rings would be enough.

8. Clean up the top face with a little skim cut, and sand the outer ring edges. You could round them over,
but as long as there are no sharp corners this shape will work fine

9. Once sanded, use the thin parting tool to plunge cut just enough into the face of the ply to release the first ring

10. Sand the flat face of the next ring, then release the next one, and so on, until you have your complete set of rings

Safety note:
Although this game is for children above toddler age, always make sure you use ‘child safe’ paints and varnishes. There is much written and legislated for on the subject of toy safety.  If you are using a string cord and small handles, there is a strangulation and choke hazard that should be considered, making it not suitable for children under three years of age.  

Top tips
Since the quoits will hit the snowmen, make sure you use dense, close-grained material for the snowmen
to minimise any damage and splinter risks.
To further minimise splinter risk and damage, don’t have any fine detail on the snowmen. Keep everything
a good size and boldly shaped.
Instead of making snowmen, you could make Christmas trees. Round the tops slightly to make sure there are no sharp points. Experiment with the shapes and make something unique.

Finishing off

1. Take the snowmen and sand the square shoulders on a disc sander or by rubbing them on an abrasive strip on a flat surface. I am using 320 grit here

2. Sand the top of the hat, but be careful, because if you get the angle of attack wrong, you will end up with an irregularly shaped hat

3. Sand the non-sanded face of the quoits by using a random orbital sander, or by hand

4. Coat everything with a primer undercoat before applying gloss or satin paint as desired. I used toy-safe pens for some of the fine detail.


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