How to Make Wood Finials

What You'll Need
Wood lathe
Wood-turning tools

If you are undertaking an intricate woodworking project, you may find yourself needing to make your own wood finials. Finials are the decorative knobs or shapes that often adorn the tops of banisters, flagpoles or fence posts. Finials can be as simple or intricate as your imagination dictates, but the most common wood finials will be geometric, usually rounded, shapes. In order to produce these shapes, you will need to be familiar with the use of a wood lathe.

Step 1 - Make Sure All Tools Are Sharp

One of the most important things to check when you begin any woodworking project is the sharpness of your tools. Dull wood-turning tools can easily catch on the pieces of wood you are working with. Consequently the dull tools can damage your project and potentially injure you.

Step 2 - Hold Your Tools Properly

One of the golden rules of working with a wood lathe is that you should never grasp your tools in your left hand. Always hold tools in the right hand in a firm but not overly tight grip. Your hand should grasp the back of the tool along the handle.

Step 3 - Position Your Left Hand

On your wood lathe, near the center, you will find a tool rest. On this, you will rest both the back of your left palm and your left little finger. Position the remainder of your left hand above the tool held in your right hand. Use your left hand to guide the tool down onto the piece of wood you are working with.

Step 4 - Begin Cutting Your Wood Finials

You will want to position your tools on the tool rest with the blade angled above the cylinder. Remember that when you are cutting a piece of wood with a lathe, it is best to allow the wood to come to the cutting blade instead of lowering the blade onto the wood itself. Remember to always support the tool firmly with both hands while you work. When making your first cut, always be sure to start at least 1 inch from the end of the piece of wood. This position will prevent the wood from splitting, or the tool you are using to be thrown from your hand.

Step 5 - Shape Your Wood Finials

The final shape of your wood finials depends on your own imagination. Finials range from very basic bulb shapes to more intricate designs resembling ornate candlesticks. Before you began cutting, you should have developed a good idea of what you want your wood finials would look like.

A predetermined vision will allow you to focus all of your attention on the actual woodcutting process. Your focus is important in order to avoid injury to yourself or damage to your piece of wood. After finishing the woodcutting portion of your project, you may want to sand the wood finials down and stain or paint them to suit your needs.