I've been turning wood for a while and I'm still in the practice stage of developing my wood turning skils, so I thought I would begin to turn my own lace bobbins.  The journey began on 2/26/2021, I am continuing to invest the time improving my lathe skills.  

I'm turning Cherry as it is plentiful in our wood pile.  I may use other woods in the future, but I have enough cut for 35 pairs and this did not require any shipping time or cost.

I usually finish on the lathe with a hand rubbed oil finish, but since these will be used with cotton and/or silk in the future, I thought I would ask for some opinions.  I don't see any reason I can't use my standard oil finish that dries so beautifully, but thought I would get some opinions as I have no experience making lace.  (I do own a decent amount of antique hand made lace though.) My oil finish dries hard.

Are there other wood turners who can advise which finish to use on my bobbins.  I work full-time so this is going to take me at least 3-6 months of weekends to turn enough bobbins to actually start using them.

I am planning to flatten one side of the ball on our disc sander.   With only 1 weekend into this project, I am enjoying the turnings and looking forward to the continued challenge that I have set for myself.

FYI:  I  generally, don't use a duplicator and I don't sell, as I take my time; to learn and enjoy the process of wood turning - this is part of my journey as a wood turner.  If I spent time to create things to sell, I would never be able to do anything I want for me...  and I don't want identical bobbins, as this is the first sign of an experienced wood turner that a duplicator was involved.  While there is nothing wrong with duplicating a turning, its kinda like buying beautiful machine made Japanese lace, and I have some of this too, but I definitely know the difference!

I would not be able to afford to sell a bobbin now matter how plain or ornate for $1.75.

Thanks in advance for any feedback - Tamra

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I made a bunch of bobbin way back, soon after I started bobbin lace. The finish I like best was a polyuerathane oil based varnish. But I am not sure they are still making that. Something about the fumes it gives off as it dries. I liked it because it hardens the surface very effectively, and the bobbins make a nice clinking sound. And they are washable (if that is ever an issue). I took a workshop where the teacher recommended Minwax.

Whatever you use, I found the major issue wasn't just the varnish, but carefully sanding the little hairs that stand up after the varnish is applied, especially the first application. Once it dries, very gently sand the bobbin smooth using a very fine sandpaper, a 400 or 600. The bobbins will feel like silk when you handle them. 

If your oil finish really does dry hard it might work. You definitely don't want residual oil getting picked up by the thread wound around the neck.

By the way, some of the bobbins I turned were made of cherry wood. I found it very nice to work with: smooth even grain with no variations in density, and relatively soft. Oak and zebra were both a nightmare to work with. The variations in density meant that the same pressure with the tool dug into the softer areas and felt like the lathe was grabbing the chisel. Every time I sat down to make bobbins I would have nightmares, literally, that first night. Nightmares about the lathe grabbing the chisel and the wood exploding. Which never actually happened.


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