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.