Strawstem Goblet


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Straw stem wood goblet project


Of all woodturning projects I enjoy doing wood goblets the most.

This article shows how to turn a basic straw stem wood goblet. The stem on this piece is about 3/16". Thats pretty thin but I have done them thinner. The reason I no longer turn them under 3/16" is because someone always breaks them.

I turned about a dozen straw stem goblets a while back and brought them to a family party. I set them on the coffee table and while the people were admiring them I said. " If anyone wants one just take it." They were gone in 10 seconds. :-)

To start the project choose a piece of wood with straight grain. This is very important if your going to turn the stem very thin. Reason being you need to keep a couple grain lines the length of the stem. If you ended up across the grain the stem would be very weak and would more than likely break before you were finished turning.

The picture below shows the blank mounted on my lathe. You should start with a blank about 2" x 8" for a straw stem. Longer is better. Square both ends of the blank then mark the center on the end you'll be using for the top. Put one end in the chuck and bring the jaws up to just touching the blank. Now bring up the tailstock and have the live center dig in just enough so the blank doesn't move. Now tighten the chuck. This will center the blank. This isn't critical but gives you a good starting point.

If you don't have a chuck round the blank between centers. Remove the blank and mount a waste block on a faceplate. True up the face of the block then turn a recess the size of the outside dimension of your blank. Glue the blank in the recess using the tailstock method described above. If you use CA (cyanoacrylate) glue you can start turning in a couple minutes. If you used wood glue you need to wait a minimum of 24 hours.

It's interesting how most new turners look for a chuck as soon as they have a lathe. A chuck is a luxury and really isn't needed. Anything you can do with a chuck can be done in other ways. I actually prefer a faceplate mounting as it is much more solid but when turning goblets I use a chuck. Why? Because it's convenient.



The next 2 pictures shows the cup of the goblet turned to it's final shape and hollowed. At this point you need to sand the cup to final. You won't be able to sand it later. Also If your going to use a wax finish now is the time to do that also. The reason you need to do these things now is because when the stem gets thin any lateral pressure will break it. I'm going to use spray lacquer so finishing won't need to be done until the end.





With the sanding completed on the cup you can continue turning but as the picture shows below the piece must be supported by the tailstock. I have used a piece of styrofoam to support the piece. This is important. Wood moves as you turn it (even kd wood) and it becomes less concentric. This in itself has no effect on the finished piece but it does cause problems when your turning. As the stem gets thinner the the cup has less and less support. This can make the piece break very easily. Especially when you add in the fact that your exerting laterial pressure on the stem during the turning process. A paper towel in the cup can be used in place of the styrofoam but I feel I get better support with the foam. I have also made a V cut with a skew chisel between the bottom of the cup and the stem. The skew is the best tool for this job as you can make a tight transition. A spindle gouge will work but its difficult to make it as tight as a skew will. A bead also looks nice here if you feel so inclined.





The picture below shows the stem being turned. As you can see I'm only near the right diameter at the top of the stem. Here its best if you turn to final diameter a little at a time working your way toward the base. Don't go backwards. You'll always have support if you work from cup to base.  Go slow and use a light touch.



This last picture shows the finished goblet final sanded with a couple coats of Qualalacq lacquer.


As to food safe finishes. All common finishes are food safe after 30 days. This doesn't mean you can use any finish. Alcohol will affect some finishes. If you absolutely need a finish that is food safe and is unaffected by alcohol use an epoxy finish. Personally I turn goblets for decoration and not for use. If I want a goblet to use with a liquid I use glass. Bob

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