Ornament beads

I’m starting to get back into the swing of making Christmas ornaments again and am remembering the hardest part finding really cool wood to work with.  I found a piece of spalted oak, I think, that I decided would make really cool looking beads for my ornaments.  I did an overview of how I make ornaments last year, http://wp.me/p1C0zs-3J.  I think I have gotten a system down for making the bead portion so I thought I would share.

Progression from chunk of random wood into shiny ornament bead!

As always I started with a chunk of wood that I thought looked interesting.  Thankfully it wasn’t too cracked so I didn’t have to worry about that.  The spalted outside was a little bit softer so I had to be a little bit more careful while shaping.  After rounding the blank between centers I cut a foot onto both sides of the blank so that I could cut it in half later and have less wood to work with.  With the ends taken care of I marked out varying bead sizes and started the general profile.  Once I was happy with the shapes I took it off the lathe and cut it in half on the bandsaw resulting in the 2nd to left part.  Using my 4 jaw chuck and a 1/2″ drill on the non driven side of the lathe I generated the part 3rd from the left.  I have found that it is much easier to drill the hole through the entire blank before I start to do the final shaping.  I had lots of beads drilled a little off center when I tried to drill the hole on the drill press after it was shaped.  Once I got a shape that I was happy with and did final sanding on all of the surfaces that I could get to I put a friction polish on the bead and then parted it off.  I had to make sure that my hand is holding the bead as I am cutting because it is really hard to know just when it is going to be seperated.  The bead is almost done at this point, there is still the one side that hasn’t gone through all the steps.  Last year I made a simple wooden drive cone that I stick in the hole along with the live center on the other side to help me finish off the remaining sides I couldn’t get to before.Once you get going it doesn’t take too long to kicked out several beads at a time.  So far I am really happy with how they are “turning” out and know they will look great with the rest of the ornament body.