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Turning A Bottle Stopper

Posted by Jason Jones on

  1. In the ever expanding quest to turn square things round I recently decided In the ever expanding quest to turn square things round I recently decided to try something new. I drink wine, and sometimes don’t drink the whole bottle.Whatever are you to do? Why, turn a bottle stopper, of course!

    Materials needed:

    • 1.5×1.5×3 inch block of wood. Can go bigger, but much will be trimmed down for the final stopper. Your wood supply store might already have some that are about this size that are easy to work with.
    • 5/16 inch drill bit
    • 3/8 inch tap and die set
    • Bottle stopper chuck (1 inch x 8 tpi)
    • Bottle stopper kit (make sure to get the ones that fit you chuck. I get mine at PSI)
    • Sandpaper
    • Micromesh sanding pads
    • Boiled Linseed Oil
    • CA
    • Denatured Alcohol
    • Vise
    • Drill press
    • chisels
    • Lathe

    Turning a bottle stopper is relatively easy, you just have to find the right profile you want.

    1. Mark the centers on both sides of your block of wood (long ends)
    2. Compare the screw end of the chuck system to your drill bit and the tap and die to see  how far you need to drill. Place tape around both bits to let you know when to stop.
    3. Put your wood in the vise
    4. Drill down using the 5/16th inch drill bit into the wood, going as far as your tape


      Drilling out the blank

      Drill down using the 5/16th inch drill bit into the wood for the bottle stopper

    5. Assemble the tap and die set and place in your hole. Start turning it clockwise to create the threads. Back it out every few turns and clear out the shavings. Go until it stops or you’ve reached your tape (they both should happen at the same time).


      Tap and die the blank

      Assemble the tap and die set and place in your hole.

    6. Back out the tap and die set by unscrewing counter-clockwise.
    7. Blow out the shavings from the hole. I’ll usually use compressed air on this, but you can also just blow it out.
    8. Place a layer of thin CA in the hole and let it set for 24 hours. This will help set the threads so that you don’t strip them.This step is mostly optional, but I’ve found when I don’t do it that at least 50% of the time I end up stripping the threads and have to throw it away.


      CA on the threads

      Place a layer of thin CA in the hole to set the threads so that you don’t strip them.

    9. Thread it onto the chuck to see if you created it long enough. It should go all the way down.
    10. Mount the chuck onto your lathe.
    11. Use your tailstock to stabilize the turning. This is especially needed until you’re round.


      Mount on lathe

      Bloodwood bottle stopper blank on the lathe

    12. Using your roughing gouge, turn the stock to round.
    13. You’ll want the bottom of the stopper to be flush with the bushing on the chuck system. This will ensure the bottom profile fits in line with the actual stopper.
    14. After that, you can carve to your hearts content. I’m silly, so I like the top hat bottle stopper. A round ball is also a good choice. Just google “wood bottle stopper” to get some ideas of the shape you want. The better you get at it, the fancier you can go.
    15. A lot of people go for a tapered bottom that flares out to give you a little more room to start with (i.e flare the bottom to fit the bottom of the kit, then it gets larger to create a round base). After that is done you’re not constrained by the size of the kit. Similar to how you do your ends on a pen kit, where you get it to meet and then flare it out.
    16. Once you’re happy with your shape you can separate it from your tail stock and finish turning the top. You should be stable enough at this point.


      Carve to final shape

      Separate it from your tail stock and finish turning the top

    17. Now that you’re all done, you can finish it. I like mine to be really shiny, so anymore I go the boiled linseed oil (BLO) and CA route.
    18. First, you’ll want to sand up through the grits. Start with 150 and work your way up to 600. Sand with the lathe on working up and down the wood, then turn the lathe off and work crossways with each grit as you go up.
    19. You’ll want to clean it with the denatured alcohol. Just put a bit on a paper towel and rub it down to get rid of some of the dust.
    20. After this, get out your micromesh sanding pads and a bowl of water and wet sand up to 12000. I’ll dry the wood off between grits to get rid of any of the yuckiness.
    21. Once you’re done with sanding you can clean it again or go straight to finishing. I honestly usually go straight to finishing at this point.
    22. Placing a liberal amount of the BLO on a paper towel, turn the lathe on and rub down the wood. Once it’s saturated and dried in a little, place some drops of the CA on top of the BLO-covered towel and rub the wood down with that. Don’t move too fast with the CA, but don’t stop either. Just do steady strokes down the wood. You’ll want to repeat this at least 2 or 3 times to ensure a good sheen. Lately I’ve been doing 3 or 4 total coats of the BLO+CA.


      Sand and finish

      Bloodwood bottle stopper after several coats of BLO & CA

    23. Let it dry.
    24. Once it’s dry, unscrew from the chuck and screw onto the stopper kit. Easy-peasy.


      Bottle stopper

      Finished Bloodwood Bottle Stopper

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