Canadian Woodworking

Exotic wood dusting brush

Author: Paul Ross
Published: August September 2006

This handy brush is great for getting at any hard to reach places, and is especially suited for dusting your computer’s keyboard. It is a simple spindle turning project that becomes extraordinary when you use any one of a variety of beautiful exotic woods.


So far, I’ve created eleven different shaped brushes, from eleven different exotic woods, including. vermillion, calantas, ebony, tigerwood (also known as goncalo alves), angigo, zebrano, niangon, kingwood, greenheart, rosewood, and purpleheart. All of these woods are available in 1″ square lengths at very reasonable prices. Using such exotics make this brush a delight to look at and to hold.

Drill center (smaller than hole) with saw tooth bit

Present gouge with flute in upwards position

Present more metal for a smoother cut

Cut with toe of skew chisel

Size brush end with skew

Shape with roughing out gouge

Use skew to roll bead

Use skew to make V-cut

Trim end with skew

  • Cut a square piece to a 6″ length. Bristles are available in 5″ length. This ratio makes for a nice balance.
  • Drill the hole (to mount the bristles) before you begin turning, because if you shape your piece to a finished diameter first, and then try to drill a hole in the end, chances are the piece will split.
  • To drill the hole, I used a ¾” saw tooth bit in a drill press. It could also be done on the lathe by holding the wood in a chuck, and drilling from the tailstock end with a Jacobs’s chuck. I also use a smaller center than the hole. That is so I can cut right to the end, without hitting the center. If you don’t have a smaller center, just flip the wood with the hole onto the cone of the live center, with the drive center in the other end. The only disadvantage of this is that you will loose some wood at both ends.
  • Cut the corners off. There is a fair bit of resistance at this point, so I present very little metal from the gouge to the wood. For this cut I presented the gouge with the flute in an upward position. With the corners cut off, there is less resistance. I can also present more metal to the wood to obtain a smoother cut.
  • With the toe, or long point of the skew, I cleanly cut the end were the brush will sit. If done properly, this will not need to be sanded. The key is to make a light cut, with a sharp tool. Simply lower the handle so that the toe is almost touching the wood. Then lift the handle so that the toe falls into the wood, making several little cuts, as opposed to one heavy, disastrous cut. With practice, the skew can be used for many different cuts. In fact most cuts can be performed more efficiently with a skew than any other tool.
  • Instead of using a 3/8″ inch beading parting tool to size the diameter of the brush end, I used a skew. Place the skew on its side, flat on the tool rest, in the same position used for a beading parting tool. Then lift it into the wood to produce a peeling cut. At the same time, use calipers to size the diameter.
  • You can do much of the initial shaping with a 1-1/4″ roughing out gouge, layed on its side, to give more of a shearing effect. In fact, as long as you can get the gouge into the shape you want, it can be used for initial rough turning of the shape. It is also effective for fine finishing cuts. When done properly, a fine turning cut (such as shaping a ball on the end of a piece), usually requires very little sanding.
  • I use the heel (or short end) of the skew to shape or roll the bead. I use the same tool to make the V-cut. The V-cut is just repeating an end cut, on left and right sides. You can do a small V-cut, or repeat the cut over and over to obtain a fairly large V-cut.
  • There shouldn’t be much finish sanding to do, because of the fine cuts taken. For the finish I used Mylands Friction Polish. A high polish can be obtained with three or four coats. The trick is to apply many thin coats rather a few thick coats.
  • Finally, the end must be dealt with. For this I ‘dampen’ the bite of the jaws on the chuck with a cloth so as not to mark the end of the wood. Not a lot of holding power is needed here, because I am just taking light cuts at this point. I then trim the end of the piece using the skew.

This is a great exercise for honing your spindle skills, as well as creating both beautiful and functional pieces.

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