Archive for February, 2009

A local residential light company asked me to turn these columns for them. They make custom chandeliers for local builders and residents. They have artisans that finish them to make them old looking. The column on the left was finished by them. Pretty neat I think. They asked me to make 10 more based on the original.
I had to glue them in halves with a 1/2″ chase through the center for wiring. They will add the protruding arms for the lighting fixtures at the base of the column – about 6 feet in diameter.


I really love working with mahogany. It is one of the classic woods for fine furniture and millwork. Unfortunately South America has poorly managed its resources and world wide demand has overtaken supply (my take). Consequently the quality of South American Mahogany has gone down while the price has continued to escalate. I paid dear for for the wood that went into the newels below and treated it like gold. These went to a stair company in North Carolina for their customer. They found a picture of a stairway in a magazine. We up sized what was in the magazine and came up with these.

mahogany newels

The larger size is 7inches at the squares.

Alder has become more and more popular in the last few years. I suspect it has to do with the price increases and limited availability of other more common domestic wood species. Some have called alder a cherry substitute. I suppose that is possible – they both are pinkish in color. There is little resemblance after that, however. Alder is softer and even the select grades are prone to have small knots. Many customers like the rustic look of Alder and specify the cheaper knotty grade (larger and more plentiful knots). Alder turns quite well and has a really nice fragrance. I’ve included an image of a few alder island legs that I made for a customer some time back.

alder island legs

In this little video I am turning two different large (2 1/2″) stair balusters. the first was for a customer in Mississippi. I really love the heavy vase shape with the one inch pin tops. They are in poplar.
In the second part of the video we are turning red oak balusters for a customer near New Orleans. The red oak used was from his own property. He had been saving it for some time to use and finally got around to bringing the wood to me. I had turned a similar pattern in 1 3/4″ but modified the pattern to accommodate the larger 2 1/2″ size.

A customer in California ordered these newels recently and I thought they were an interesting combination for his stairway. The larger (8 inch newels are my design N108 on my Architectural Turnings site). The pin tops are mine as well (the newels with the 3/4″ dowel). The one inch tops though are his adaptation. They will be inserted directly into the handrail. I’m hoping to get a few pictures of the finished stairway.

oak newels

These stair newels were turned for a customer in Aspen, Colorado. I know they look like Greek columns. But this is what they wanted. The flat tops will make a nice place for the things you should be putting away somewhere else. The challenge for the installer is to cope the handrail to the round column since there is no where else to attach it to. Sometimes can be impractical

Greek Column Stair Newels

The 8 inch X 8 foot fluted columns are crafted in poplar. Pictured with my youngest son, the columns went to a home in the Baton Rouge area.

Fluted Columns


Columns can make a strong design element to your home. Interior Columns like these can be used to visually separate and define spaces.

I found Google Sketchup a few years back and was impressed with the short learning curve and functionality for a free 3d design software. Did I say it was free? There is a paid version with more punch but the free version has proved to be all I need.
Below is a mantle surround I designed using Sketchup. Mantle surrounds like stairways are a fun way to create “show stoppers” for your interior spaces. There are lots of things in mantel designs that can be done to impress family and friends. This mantel surround wraps around a bump out in the wall presumably as a chase for the fireplace flue.


These columns were contracted by an architect in North Louisiana. They were to replicate the columns on an old Acadian cottage in my area (Baton Rouge). It was convenient for me to cross the Mississippi River and go there. The cottage had been restored and placed on city property as a small museum.


An image of the Acadian Cottage.

Acadian Cottage Columns

Acadian Cottage Columns

You may know from history that the Acadians were the French that were run out of Canada in the 19th century by the English. Many moved to to South Louisiana.

I made these mantel columns for a friend a few years back. He was in the middle of renovating an old house. The fireplace is actually not functioning anymore. It was originally a coal burner. He probably put books or flowers in the fireplace to decorate.

fireplace columns

fireplace columns

The columns are 6 inches X 50 inches high and are salvaged cypress (very popular in our area). They are barley twisted left and right handed. FYI cypress is often salvaged from old house and warehouses in the South.