Tea Lights - The Process

A Thing Of Beauty is a Joy Forever!

the woodturning of Jason Smith R.P.T.

How is a Tea Light Holder Turned?

Below this you will find further information giving you a more detailed understanding of some of the processes I use to make woodturned art.


It all starts hereā€¦.


I select a piece of wood usually about 2" deep and 6-8 inches round, normally I will try to use a plain wood. I use plain wood because I often use T lights to trial different finishing techniques, what works can then be used on larger gallery pieces, what doesn't work doesn't matter as I have wasted very little wood on a relatively cheap piece of treen work.


The blank (unturned disc of wood) is then put on my drill press and a 2" diameter by 1" deep (approx 50mm x 25mm) hole is drilled in the centre of the blank.


The blank then mounts straight on to my 38mm O'Donnell jaws on the lathe. The Blank is trued up at lowish speed

- approx 1000-1500 rpm and the underside shape of the T light is defined with a sweeping curve using the "Ellsworth grind" bowl gouge. With the weight reduced, speed is increased to 2-2.5k rpm and the chucking point on the underside is then developed.


A dovetail recess 50mm x 3-4mm is introduced with a round 12mm skew chisel. The speed is then reduced to approx 1.2k rpm and sanding is carried out down the grits to 600 grit (for treen work like this). Most turners sand down to 400grit however I can still see sanding marks at 400grit and I'm never happy with this - by going one step further to 600G I can eliminate marks visible to the naked eye.


The blank is then removed from the Jaws, reversed, and re-chucked on the same O'Donnell jaws with the top now facing out. Turning at 2-2.5k rpm the face of the T Light is refined with the Ellsworth geometry gouge to produce a more gentle sweeping (flatter) face.


Speed is once again dropped to 1.2k rpm and any sanding that is necessary is done. If it is apparent that the wood has a lot of character I will continue to sand to 2500grit - as I will be leaving the wood without further embellishment; however normally, I will apply a decorative finish to the upper surface and therefore I will stop sanding at 400G. This is because the paint layer that I will apply next, needs some "tooth" to adhere to - if the wood is too highly sanded, materials have more trouble adhering to the wood, and in any case, the first paint layer obliterates any remaining sanding marks.


Further embellishment is then carried out such as painting, staining, liming, gilt work, etc.etc. I will often devote whole days to simply "playing" - creating and trialing different techniques and materials. Sometimes seeing a different artist's style will encourage me to try something similar - this often leads me off in what then becomes a totally different direction. One may start out with a heavy influence from an artist, and end up with a unique effect - far removed from the original influence. This is SO important for me - it is a vital facet to developing my own style of turning!


The T Light is then removed from the lathe (if I have not already done so in the course of my playing), sealed and finished - often with multiple coats of gloss acrylic lacquer.


A glass candle holder is put in to the 50 x 25mm hole that was originally done on the drill-press, this protects the wood from the heat, and that's it - Job done!