I’ve seen several articles on the internet or in turning magazines on how to turn bracelets or bangles and have also seen a number of books on turning jewelry. They all have their value but like most topics in turning, there is no “one and only” way to do something.
Although I did get something out of most of these articles, it wasn’t until I put the bits and pieces together did I come up with a way to make bangles that I was comfortable with. So, I’ll feel I’ve done my part if you just take one idea from my method.
Here’s what I do. I start with a blank about 3 1/4 inches square and cut out a round. In the center of the round, I drill a 1 3/8 inch hole with a Forstner bit about 3/16 inches deep. The 1 3/8 bit makes a hole just right for my chuck jaws to expand into. You may have to adjust your hole to accommodate your chuck jaws.
I use long nose jaws. It helps to move the piece away from the chuck and they were the best jaws I had for this purpose. Although I’m not working on the back side of the piece, the long nose jaws do give you a little more working room.
True up the diameter of the blank. Since I use dimensioned lumber for my bangles, I don’t worry about truing up the face. Most of it will disappear eventually anyway. Since this is a face grain piece, I use a bowl gouge.
Using the 1 3/8 bit, I drill another hole on the face of the piece. Now I have two holes centered on the piece so I can flip the piece from front to back and maintain centering.
Now I mark a 2 3/8 to 2 1/2 inch circle on the face of the piece with a compass. I do this with the lath off. Place the point of the compass in the dimple made by the drill bit and rotate the piece by hand.
I find that these measurements result in a final bangle that fit the majority of woman and has nice proportions (the bangle not the woman). There will be some variation anyway and I’m not absolutely critical about getting things exactly the same every time.
Using a parting tool begin to form the shape of the bangle at the piece where you made the mark. You can flip the piece from front to back and back to front a few times to get things even. Don’t part too far; you want to sand and finish the piece at this point.
When you’re satisfied with how things look, you can part through the piece. Be careful; go slow and listen for the change in sound as you’re about to cut through.
Here’s where I kind of departed from what I saw in the various articles and made my own version of a “chuck” to hold the piece so I could finish off the inside.
Using my mini-cole jaws, I attached a ring of 1 1/2 inch stock and turned a recess to hold the bangle. The recess was smaller than the bangle would be. I took the ring off the cole jaws and quartered it on the band saw.
You now have access to the inside of the piece and you can flip the piece any number of times to finish the inside.
Since the piece has a geometry similar to the top, inside opening of a box, I use my box scraper to true up the inside of the bangle. You can sand and finish the piece in these jaws.
Here’s the final piece.