One of the more unusual jobs that I’ve recently been asked to do is to turn a matching pair of post-topping acorns, a traditional design for a decorative finial on large gate posts. The customer had kept the excess timber cut off the posts after the gate was fitted, and they were made of larch, which is extremely durable, so they made the ideal starting point for turning and carving two enormous acorns.
Once mounted between centres on the lathe, they were each turned down to a cylinder, then a chucking tenon cut on what was to be the bottom end.
The next step was to set the acorn into a chuck, mark out the line between the acorn-cup and kernel, then shape the top of the kernel to the familiar rounded shape with that little projecting point at its tip.
Then with the top shaped, the acorn cup could be shaped as well, leaving a small flat area on the underside for it to sit well on top of the gate post.
Marking out the carving came next and, as I’m quite a novice at carving, I decided to keep this quite simple, just dividing the perimeter into 12 equal points at both the top and bottom of the cup, then joining criss-crossed lines between the 24 points before chiseling each line to a depth of about a centimetre.
Following the carving, they were carefully cut off the lathe and the bottoms cleaned up before drilling a 3cm diameter hole up into the underside, to insert a 3cm oak dowel.
As with any job which involves matching one or more item, it pays to set-up carefully and slowly if the pair is to be a good match.
Now, if there’s one aspect of a woodturner’s life that the customers rarely think about, it’s the mess that their commissions make when they’re turned, and two huge lumps of larch, such as these, make a lot of mess…..here’s a before and after photo…..it took an hour to clean up and remove all the gooey sap from the tools!
So here’s the finished pair, set into their post-tops. The customer will leave them for a few days for the adhesive to fully cure, then they’ll be treated with preservative to match the the gate and the posts.