Ray’s Balusters

A dozen porch balusters turned by Ray Schwartz in Western Red Cedar.

My friend and student at Alamance Community College, Ray Schwartz, has completed his project turning balusters for a home restoration. While working on this project, Ray mentioned that he had some trouble using the parting tool and roughing out gouge while making the cylinder between the square ends. He was working in Western Red Cedar which has a tendency to split under any circumstances, but which is fairly weather resistant making it a good choice for porch balusters. I made this video to give him some ideas on approaching these problems with different woods. I was using ash, a wood that presents different problems than cedar, but which is also challenging at times. Ray found that putting masking tape on the square before turning helped keep from breaking the corners off.

Techniques for using the parting tool, roughing out gouge, and skew chisel to make a cylinder between two square shoulders.

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