Some discerning person has bought my remaining stock of wooden cones, leaving me sold out. These cones are decorative items, non functional except perhaps as paperweights, but I think they look good. A while back I took one to the woodturning club show and tell, and other members made some for the following meeting, so they must have something to recommend them!
Now I have to replenish stock. The difficulty is finding suitable blanks, they need to be well figured and of suitable size. I found several nice bits of pear wood with some ripple grain and darker patches. I’ve used this for making bowls previously and know it finishes well. I also sorted out some spalted sycamore and horse chestnut, but this is too wet to use at present. I spalted it myself, simply by wrapping it up in plastic bags for about a year. It certainly is heavily spalted, some of it too much so, but I won’t really know till it’s dry. I roughed out some cones from the spalted wood and put them aside to dry. The pear is good to go now, so I made a couple of cones with that. More tomorrow I expect.
Turning wooden cones is fairly simple. The blank goes between centres and I turn the taper with the point on the left. There is a knack to turning tapers fluently and I am a bit rusty, so the first ones went slowly. You have to slowly lift the tool handle as you go down the taper and coordination needs practice. The bottom is undercut a little with a small gouge so the cone stands straight, and then sanded with a small padded disc sander. The point is finished with a chisel off the lathe and then sanded.
After I had made the first few, I found it was easier to use a bowl gouge with a pulling cut to develop the taper, and finish with a large straight chisel. Few turners use straight chisels nowadays, they are almost extinct, but a dinosaur like me still finds them useful sometimes.
Here are some of the finished cones after polishing. From the left, they are pearwood, pearwood, burr acacia and spalted hornbeam. The plainer ones remind me of tusks.