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Making a batch of satinwood cord pulls – Woodturning by Terry Vaughan

Today I have been making a batch of satinwood cord pulls. Satinwood is a tropical timber, and I rarely buy such wood now, normally relying on old stock or reclaimed wood. This piece came from Axminster Tools. They told me that it is from India and to the best of their belief is sustainably harvested. It is quite hard, and smells of coconut. It has a golden-yellow colour and reflects the light like satin.

Making the blanks

I started by sawing the blanks, about 30 mm square and 60 mm long. I drilled the hole for the cord knot next, using a 6 mm drill and going about 45 mm deep. Then I changed to a 3 mm drill and completed the hole right through the blank. A normal 3 mm drill is not long enough for this, so I used a special long one. Long, thin drills like this tend to go off centre, which is why I drilled the larger hole most of the way through. Drilling deeper holes this size often makes the hole go too far to one side, and sometimes the drill bit even comes out of the side of the blank instead of the end.

Then I put the drilled blank in the lathe with the small hole at the headstock end, and quickly rough the square blank down to a cylinder, using a shallow roughing gouge. I normally rough down the whole batch before going to the next stage.

Shaping the satinwood cord pulls

Now I swap the drive centre (I use a Stebcentre) for an ordinary cone dead centre that drives the blank by friction only. This time, the larger hole is at the headstock end.

I can then rough out the shape using a small spindle gouge, and refine it with a small skew chisel. I like to use a 10 mm beading and parting tool ground into a skew.

Shaping the cord pull
Shaping the cord pull using small spindle gouge
Refining shape of cord pull
Refining the shape with small skew chisel

Then I use a very small spindle gouge that I made from carbon steel to cut the two tiny coves near the top of the cord pull. A gouge this size cuts very easily and doesn’t seem to need the complicated movements that a normal gouge requires to cut a cove without digging in.

Cutting coves
Cutting two tiny coves with very small homemade spindle gouge
using skew chisel on cord pull
Further refining the shape with skew chisel

The turning is done, including cleaning up the ends with the point of the skew. They are ready for sanding and finishing with Danish oil.

I used a different method for the next lot of satinwood cord pulls. Instead of using the small spindle gouge and skew as before, I switched to an 18 mm skew chisel. This did a nice job. I like to use different tools so I get the practice. But I had to take it slowly with the wider tool because the cord pulls tended to slip on the friction drive centre.

Here they are after polishing.

satinwood cord pulls
A batch of satinwood cord pulls


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