Ring Turned Flags

What do I mean by 'ring' turning? I am not turning rings for your finger. This technique refers to turning shapes in a ring form on the lathe and then cutting them out on a bandsaw.  I have done some ring turning previously and this idea came to me after reading a bit more about it.

As you can see if the photo above there are many flags. In fact, I got about 80 usable flags from this one turning. I decided to add magnets in the back so that they could be used as a fridge magnet or using a small strip of metal you can wear them as lapel pins. 

I then used GIMP 2.8, a photo manipulation software tool, which is open source and free. It is a full blown photo and image editing tool that rivals PhotoShop. It takes some learning to use it effectively. Next was to print out the pattern. The first step is to find or create an image. I pulled one off the internet of a US flag lapel pin. 

I used a block of the silver maple I harvested a couple of month back.  This blank was about 14" in diameter and about 4 inches thick. A seasoned piece of lumber (could be glued up) 10-14" in diameter and 2-2.5" thick would work. 

This kind of turning is hard to visualize and hence the need for patterns. You can hopefully see in the photos how this is going to turn. The patterns you create will help to keep you on track with where to cut next. They are also used throughout to mark dimensions of depth and diameter.

After some layout and planning here I am cutting the face which is actually the top of the flag.  The pattern templates are used very often during the turning. I must have stopped and check against the pattern more than 20 times throughout the shaping process. Here you can see that I am using the Elio-DR in faceplate mode with the drawbar kit to hold this work to the lathe. This is a large piece so I am using the 3.5" version.  It is critical to have the turning match the pattern so that it matches your image. In this case my plans are to apply an image to the final turning.  


In the photo here I have finalized the profile on both front and back so that the pattern templates match up.

Before I get ready to part the ring off the turning I sanded the form thoroughly and then proceeded to layout the radial segments using an indexing wheel.  In the next photos you can see my setup for the index wheel. I found out that 48 segments would be too thick for a flag, so I went around again at the half mark and made 96 segments. This seemed to work well. I made a small platform table with a one inch dowel that mounts in the banjo. Using a flat carpenters pencil makes it easy to mark the radial indexed lines. Of course, you must set the height of the table so that the pencil strikes at the center line.

So now comes the time to part the ring from the lathe. This is a large piece so use caution. 

My plan was to try to catch the ring by cradling it with my right hand as I parted it with my left. A better option was to cut almost through it and then stop and use a hand saw. As it turns out I parted it off and let it bounce to the floor. I always remember to stand out of the line of fire (watch the YouTube video to see the action).


There was a bit of hand sanding done to the ring and then it was off to the bandsaw.

I solved the problem of centering the ring by using some 1" think Styrofoam insulation board carved to tightly fit the middle. Then I put a center pin in the Styrofoam board and used my bandsaw cutting sled to cut out about 90 segments from the ring. I didn't feel comfortable cutting the last six or so segments from the small block that was left near the end of cutting. It will become a good tutorial piece.

The next sequence of steps is to power sand, hand sand, paint, drill holes for magnets, glue in the magnets, and apply the flag image.

And finally, sign the back and apply a finish topcoat.

I will be selling these for $10.00 each and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to a charitable organization supporting our US military and/or their families. I am not a veteran and have not served in the military but I feel the obligation to help support this country that has adopted me. This is one of the ways I will do that.

I hope you all enjoyed the article. See the YouTube video of this project.


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