The Finished Finials – finally

We’ve had a project in the shop I’d like to tell you all about.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades Department is working with The Museum of the American Revolution to construct a copy of George Washington’s wartime Headquarters- “The First Oval Office”.

For the Cabinetmaking shop, we were asked to turn 6 finials to go on top of iron rods made by the Blacksmiths, which were attached to mahogany poles fabricated by the Joiners.

Here’s a photo of the completed finials:

Tent Finials


The large ones are 4 1/2″ in diameter and the small ones are 2 1/2″. We  used the treadle lathe borrowed from the Joiner’s shop. It made more sense than setting up our Great Wheel Lathe and drafting someone to turn the wheel. The wood is beech and will be painted red as in this painting by Charles Willson Peale:


Yale University Art Gallery

I do enjoy these kinds of collaborations. However, I don’t envy David Salisbury who also had a turning project. When you go to the facebook page, check out all the buttons he had to make.

People often ask us, “What’s the biggest piece you can turn?”, or “How fast can the lathe go?”

I can say that for our treadle lathe, 5″ diameter was about as much as I would want to handle. When the crank shaft was at the apex of the rotation, it was like pedaling a bicycle uphill in the highest gear.

If you’d like some background about the project, go to That’s the Museum of the American Revolution’s site.

To see the tent in progress, will show the various historic trades and their contributions.

Brian Weldy

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1 Response to The Finished Finials – finally

  1. Tony Gangemi says:

    Hey, I live in Mackay and I love this blog about Cabinet Makers. it always inspires me to try new things. Thank you so much!

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