Turning Tapered Spindles

“I need to turn several tapered spindles to create karate staffs. They are 1/4″ wide at one end and 1″ at the other end. Each staff is 36″ long. I will connect them with pool cue connectors in the middle. They need to be consistent in weight and taper. Any ideas?”

Submitted by: Bflodder

WWGOA Editor Response:

The first question is material selection. Research into what is used for commercially made karate staffs will help you. I’d think hard maple would be a good choice.

In order to turn a spindle this long and thin, you’ll need a steady rest on your lathe. This is a device that provides support for the turning so it doesn’t flex away from your cutting pressure. You can find a commercially made one at Woodcraft Supplies, but it may or may not fit your machine.

Since the finished spindle will be so thin, you’ll need to make sure the grain is running straight through the blank and do a finicky job of setting up your headstock and tailstock centers. If you don’t, the staff will easily break.

To keep each spindle consistent, set up your taper using a parting tool and calipers. If you own a completed staff, you can take your dimensions from it. Measure every two inches or so, along the length of the staff, and check the diameter at that position. Use a ruler and calipers to transfer that to your turning.

Make the tailstock end the thin end of your staff and start your shaping there, working your way up to the headstock.

Have fun and sends us pics of your completed staffs.

George Vondriska

Managing Editor

Got a woodworking question you need answered? Comment or Email us at editor@wwgoa.com

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3 Responses to “Turning Tapered Spindles”

    • WWGOA Team

      Cool project. I haven’t made one, but I was actually thinking about doing so recently. This would be a great topicfor a future WWGOA video. In terms of materials, I would use the straightest grain material that you can find to maintain the stability of the cue. I would also suggest getting an additional support for the middle of each piece, to minimize vibration as your turn such a long narrow spindle. Something like this:

      In terms of hardware components, I’m not sure what the best source might be. One that I found that seemed to have everything necessary for the project is here: http://www.cuecomponents.com/
      Good luck, and please send us some pics when you complete this project

      • Roger

        I completed one cue stick, it turned out pretty good so I will make more. I have people wanting me to make them custom cues.
        What makes it even better is that my lathe is a DIY homemade from scratch machine. And I have no actual lathe chisels.