First project of the year.


Nearly a year ago, not long after I had my lathe set up, I was looking around for a turning project, and I stumbled across some plans for a candlestick telephone. At the time, the project was far beyond my capabilities, so I only got as far as picking out the timber before shelving the idea until I had more practice under my belt.

Well, as 2017 arrived, I decided that I was proficient enough to give it a bash, so I dug out the timber, walnut I think, and set to work.

My design sticks fairly close to the original, but my shapes and dimensions are slightly different. This is due in part to some intentional design decisions on my part, as well as a few cock-ups unforseen design opportunities. All of the turned components are finished with Yorkshire Grit and Hampshire Sheen. The other wooden components just have the Hampshire sheen.

I began with the base and the stem. The base looked a tad bulky, so I ended up making more of a sweeping round over after this picture was taken.

The mouthpiece is made from two parts: the bowl and the cone. The bowl was turned first, with a recess that will accept a tenon on the cone. The recess also meant that I could flip it round and finish the bottom. I also bored a small hole in the bottom to accept a connector piece that will join it to the stem

I then turned the cone piece, forming the tenon first and checking for a tight fit with the bowl. I made another recess that would accept a brass disc later on. Then I could flip it round to hollow out the cone itself.

Next came the receiver, which was again made in two parts: a ring cap and a cone. The ring cap was turned first, with two recesses – one to accept the cone, and another to accept another brass disc. Then I turned the cone, first creating a tenon for the ring cap, and then hollowing out and shaping before flipping it round, boring a hole for the cable and finishing the end.

On the side of the stem I drilled a hole to accept the cradle. I then turned a matching tenon on a block of walnut before removing it from the lathe in order to shape it. I bored out the bulk of the waste and then broke out the saws, chisels, rasps, files and sandpaper. This part of the project was a real ball-ache.

The wood working for this project was almost over. The only part left to make was the small connector piece that would join the mouthpiece to the stem. I turned a ball and small tenon on the lathe, then removed it and removed the sides of the ball to create a disc. I cut out a corresponding slice in the top of the stem and bored a small hole in both components to accept a small brass pin, so that the mouthpiece could pivot.

Moving onto the brass components, I cut out some discs for the mouthpiece and receiver, and drilled some holes in them. I cut a small pin for the connector piece and then readied the brass plugs that would provide an interface between phone and cord. The plugs are small brass inserts for compression joints on small bore gas pipes. I hammered some walnut dowel into them and drilled a small hole to take the cord.


With all the pieces complete, it was time for assembly. I decided to line the base with a piece of leather, which was spray mounted into position and attached with brass pins. I used a guide to help me position the pins evenly.

And here we have it: The Candlestick Telephone. First project of 2017.

6 thoughts on “First project of the year.

Add yours

  1. Love it! I did one when I first started turning, making the usual beginner errors of too many beads/coves etc. I always said I would revisit it.
    I was going to give the shed a miss today because of the weather. You may just have tipped the balance with this.


  2. Very well done. Nice grain and matching of grains. Brass inserts are a nice touch. May do the same on mine in progress.


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