Anyone ever tried lathing their own sticks?

KalashnikoV

Member
Hey; I'm thinking of a potential summer project for myself and was wondering if anyone has any experience with it. My father possesses a lathe and I was going to give a whack at using it to turn my own sticks, if possible.

I've found a couple suppliers online from whom I could buy bulk hickory dowels—what I would figure for the best raw material to start with. I planned on getting a few such dowels from Home Depot for experimentation first (the online retailers seem to generally only sell in bulk, and I want to be sure I know what I'm getting into before making a nearly $200 investment in wood!) but they only had Oak and a mystery "hard wood" for choices. I knew some people find Oak preferable for sticks, and the "hard wood" dowels seemed softer and were noticeably bent or warped down their length, so I went with the Oak (though the stick-crafting capabilities of these particular shafts seem a bit dubious. I hope they're durable and playable.) I'll tell you how my early attempts turn out.

Anyway, any one have any good advice to give on the matter? Preferred woods/suppliers? Recommended lathing tools and techniques?
 

razorx

Platinum Member
Using a lathe is a very testis process. It's hard ( for me anyways). You need allot of practice to be consistent, especially if you are making sticks. Shaping the tip of the stick is going to be challenging. If your not careful the stick will fly off the lathe and be a missal. ( i know from experience) I think that you would have to use a belt sander to shape the tip. I'm pretty sure that when they professionally make sticks that they just stick the top of the stick in a jig and it cuts it out. Good luck and remember to be safe.
 

KalashnikoV

Member
Well, I gave the lathing a quick run to see how I would fare. I didn't have much a design or plan beforehand, I just ran a first stick simply as proof of concept. I turned the lathe at 900 rpm and shaped the stick entirely by file and sand paper (coarse, followed by fine grit.) I then gave it a quick hand sanding after removing it from the life. Mind you, I am faaar from any sort of master wood-worker, but I imagine this process would take much too long for any sort of mass production. However, I imagine the use of a jig or shaped knife/cutting implement in conjunction with the lathe would make for a fine means of both producing consistent sticks and producing them quickly.

Anyway, here's my results thus far (apologies for the fuzzy image.) My stick is the redder one on the right, the comparison stick on the left is a Vic Firth American Hickory 5B.



Tomorrow I'll try to get some better pictures as well as some statistics like the weight of the stick and it's diameter as measured by calipers (should still be roughly 5/8" though slightly smaller from sanding.)
 

razorx

Platinum Member
Don't make the circumference exact with the chisel. Are you using a gouge? . Leave it big and sand it down.
 

Customdrumstix.BIZ

Junior Member
we lathe our own sticks 1 by 1 from square stock
and can turn out 1 stick off the lathe every 2min.... we are able to sell pairs at $5 with these times.... it took lots of trial and error to be able to turn sticks at that rate...
if your looking to save even more money from having to buy dowels, you should get a quarter-round blade for your router put some square stock through it until you rounded all four corners.

www.customdrumstix.BIZ
 
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