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Architectural turning

I get asked to make all sorts of things, from coffins to houses, pepper mills to bookcases. I am more attracted to jobs that need an element of individuality - making stuff that you can't readily buy from a shop (or even worse, on Amazon). I generally think that we have far too much mass produced stuff in our lives, and having something special made for you adds so much more value and meaning, and also means you tend to look after things a little better.

One of my jobs last week was to make a finial - a piece of architectural woodwork for a house that was built in 1902. The finial serves no particular structural purpose other than joining the barge boards together, but it looks good and the quality of the ornamentation demonstrates the builders pride in the quality of the building they had made.

I think that in the modern world it is all too tempting when old parts of houses fall to bits that we should just replace them with bits of plastic, or maybe not at all, so it made me happy to be asked to turn a new finial to adorn the apex of the gable of the house. Keeping original features is often tricky - there aren't so many people left who can turn big spindles like this any more as a one off . It's often not economical for commercial turners to do single pieces, and the skilled turners who can do this work often don't have lathes that are big enough to turn 4 foot blanks. I'm glad that sometimes I'm able to fill the stranger gaps in the market!

A finished finial, complete with 19" through mortice to accept the ends of the barge boards.

Old and new. I'm not sure if the old one is original, but it certainly looks like it might have spent a century on a roof exposed to the elements!


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