Canadian Woodworking

Napkin rings and stand

Author: Paul Ross
Published: June July 2004

These napkin rings and stand make an attractive table piece. They also fit nicely together for easy storage when not in use.


Depending on the look you want, you can do the entire set out of one type of wood, or use two contrasting woods. I chose to use walnut for the rings and stem, and boxwood (from France) for the stem’s cap.

This is a relatively easy project requiring mostly spindle work, with some faceplate work for the base.

The set is comprised of a turned base and three turned cylinders. One cylinder is used for the stem. The other two are divided to form the four rings. The rings are done two at a time to reduce overhang. If four rings were turned from one piece of wood, there would be too great a distance without support when the tailstock is removed.

Turn the three cylinders starting with wood 2″ square by 6″ long. The extra material gives you enough to turn a spigot on one end to grab the piece.

Mount between centres and rough down the cylinders with an 11/4″ roughing out gouge. Then square the ends with a 1/4″ parting tool.

Next, plane cut to dimension with a skew. Doing so gives an extremely smooth cut that only needs 220 grit sandpaper to finish it off. Pay special attention to the position of the skew as you use it. The skew leads with its heel (the short end of the skew) and travels towards the headstock.

Hold the skew up on one side so that it is not held flat on the rest. Also make sure the rest is well above the centre of lathe.

Make a spigot on one end of each cylinder with a 3/8″ beading parting tool. Make the spigots at least an inch long and about 1 1/2″ diameter for a good hold. On the cylinder that will become the stem, make the spigot about 3/8″. That will be used to hold the piece. It will also be used for mounting the stem in the base.

Mount between centres and rough down cylinder

Skew leads with heel and travels toward headstock

Use beading parting tool to make spigot

With stem in chuck, cut end with toe of skew

Drill out middle of rings with saw tooth bit in Jacobs chuck

Use dividers to ensure all rings are same length

Cut bead with fluted parting tool, while holding end of ring for support

Use hand to support and hold ring as it falls off

Fasten boxwood to stem, mount in chuck and shape end with spindle gouge

Shape base with bowl gouge

Drill tenon hole with brad point bit held with vise grips


Place the stem in the chuck. To glue the boxwood cap onto this stem you will need a square clean surface. Get that surface by cutting the end of the stem with the toe of your skew.

Napkin Holders

In turn, place each of the two cylinders that will become the rings into the chuck. Drill the middle of each with a 1 1/2″ saw- tooth bit held in a Jacobs chuck in the tailstock.

To get the rings all the same length use a pair of dividers. To give the rings some character cut little beads in the middle.

Use a small fluted parting tool to create an effect you like. Be sure to use your hand to hold the end of the ring for support.

Sand the ring to conclusion. Then, use your hand for support as you separate the two pieces.

Attach the piece of boxwood to the walnut stem. Mount it in the chuck and shape the end with a 1/2″ spindle gouge. Sand the stem complete.


Glue a waste block onto the piece and put in the chuck. Shape the base with a 3/8″ bowl gouge. Then use a 3/8″ brad point bit and drill a hole for the tenon of the stem. Hold onto the bit with a pair of vise grips.


Sand and assemble all pieces. To finish, try using a finishing oil by Liberon. It is an easy to use finish with a tung oil with a dryer added.

Make a few of these napkin holders and use various combination of woods. They make great gifts for people who love to have dinner parties. Let your friends know that you take these wonderful gifts to dinner parties that you are invited to. Then sit back and let the phone ring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


More Turning/Carving/Intarsia projects to consider
Username: Password: