Stateline Woodturners
By Jim King

An interesting and attractive woodturning can be achieved by laminating various
species of contrasting stock prior to turning. The effect is further enhanced if the
wood stock varies in thickness. Figure 1 shows an example of a peppermill turned
from such a laminated “billet.” The individual pieces of wood are laminated
together at a slight angle to improve the appearance of the finished piece. Figure 2
shows the “billet” after it has been glued together and trimmed on a bench saw
(although a band saw can be used just as well). The “billet” shown in Figure 2 has
the edges trimmed at a 45 degree angle in order to reduce the severity of the
wood chipping/splintering during turning because of the orientation of the grain.

Prior to laminating, the various pieces of stock are all cut to the same size, in the
case of the peppermill, approximately 3” square. Since the pieces of stock are
laminated at an angle, it is almost a necessity that a fixture be used to hold the
“stack” of pieces during the gluing process so that appropriate pressure can be
applied to minimize the glue lines. Figure 3 shows a fixture designed by the author
for this gluing process. The individual pieces of wood can be stacked in the fixture,
and switched around as needed to obtain the desired contrast between the
individual pieces of wood stock. The pieces are then removed (and kept in order),
and the fixture lined with waxed paper (unless you want a monolithic block of
fixture and wood pieces at the end of the gluing process). Wedge pieces, as
shown in Figure 4, are used at each end of the billet to equalize the pressure
across the entire surface of the pieces being glued together. The glue is applied to
one side of each piece of stock as it is placed in the fixture. When all of the pieces
are in place (including the end, wedge shaped pieces), the nuts on the threaded
rods are tightened down. A great deal of pressure can be applied in the fixture
shown in Figure 3, thus resulting in very fine glue lines. The author has found that
the best results are obtained by tightening the fixture, waiting for a few minutes,
then tightening again, and repeating this process several times, as the glue will
slowly squeeze out of the joints due to the pressure applied.

Once the glue has set (I allow about 8 hours for Titebond II), the nuts are removed
from the threaded rods, the fixture endpiece removed, and the billet removed from
the fixture. A small prybar is handy for prying the billet up to get it out of the fixture.
The angle of the wood pieces, along with the clamping pressure, causes the wood
pieces to press against the sides of the fixture, resulting in a very tight fit! A final
word of advice with respect to the fixture: if building a fixture similar to that shown
in Figure 3, use heavy wood (2X4’s, ¾” plywood), lots of screws, and heavy
threaded rod (1/2” or larger).
Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4