Q: I would like someone to explain to me how I can create fluting on a circular or round wooden column. I read someplace that one way this can be accomplished is on a lathe that has indexing capabilities, but I could never understand how. I do not have an indexing lathe but would be interested in knowing if that is possible. I have routers, a router table and chisels.
A: There are two options for accurately laying out flutes or reeds on a column. You can create your own indexing wheel, or lay out your spacing flat and wrap it around your part. The first step in either case is to decide on the number of flutes. With the wrap method, mark the circumference of your column on a strip of paper, then divide that length into equal parts, and tape it to the cylinder. This is excellent for hand cutting reeds and flutes.
The wheel is great for indexing your column when mounted in a jig. Draw out a circle on a piece of 1/4″ ply, and use a compass (or a CAD program on your computer) to divide the circle by the number of flutes (360 degrees divided by 12 in this case is 30 degrees per index). This wheel can then be attached to your column to align it accurately for each flute. A 1/4″ bolt locks the wheel in place as each flute is cut.