Category Archives: Spindle work

A perennial favorite!

5snowmenWeb  Aspen Snowmen are a natural way to celebrate our native wood, and our famous winter sporting climate.

Dennis makes the snowmen in several sizes, as sculptures,  as 5″ tall upside-down salt shakers, and as Christmas ornaments.

The hats are turned from urban forest trees–primarily walnut.


Team Pepper


A classic peppermill shape with detail created by a laminated turning blank.  The shape is revealed when the curves are cut on the lathe.  They are rarely identical, but definitely members of the same team.

Dennis makes, sells, and teaches peppermills.   These are just one of several classic styles that he prefers.


Upside-Down Saltshaker class at Woodcraft 10/31


Dennis will teach a class for turners of all skill levels on Saturday, October 31st, at the Colorado Springs Woodcraft store.

Students will make one or more of the two-part salt shakers that continue to delight the public with the mystery of getting the salt in and out of a shaker with just one hole in the bottom.  It makes a great gift for family and friends who may not understand the woodturning obsession.

This class will also hone skills with the parting tool, spindle gouge, and even the skew, for those turners who have been primarily bowl makers.  Dennis will help you sharpen your own tools correctly if you bring them to the class.

Call Woodcraft to reserve a spot, or to buy a class for your own aspiring woodturner:  719-266-9889.   The class will be over in time for trick-or-treating.  Recommended costume is personal safety gear – safety goggles or face shield.


Dennis at work

Taking a break from the StoryTellers, Dennis works on one of his favorite subjects for stone inlay–the classical labyrinth.   In this photo, he is carving the channels for the lapis inlay with a small dental drill.

The Liggetts’ woodshop also serves as a classroom.   Dennis has a new demonstration of ‘Twistwork for the People’ ready for the Utah Woodturning Symposium.    The debut was for the Pikes Peak Woodturners.  In the follow-up class, several club members came by the shop to try their own hand at making the flame twist.

In the photo, Milo Scott helps Mark Harry sand his first flame twist.  Dennis is watching Robert Brewer (behind Mark) turn a pineapple.  Bill Smith and Lyle Wilgers also came over to learn simple twistwork.

Dennis holds training sessions throughout the year as part of his mentoring role for the Pikes Peak Woodturners.

Fire when ready!

Marion Blair has completed the model cannons from the HMS Victory!   In an earlier post, the cannons are pictured just off the lathe.  This has been a terrific collaboration for Dennis and Marion, who played high school football together a few years back in King City, Missouri.

Amazing wood! New challenge…

Working from photos, Dennis has turned a cannon for a model of one used in British naval warfare.  The most difficult part was cutting into the oak used for the project–a piece of wood from the HMS Victory, now in drydock in the UK.  This piece was painted on one side with multiple layers of the thick cream-color paint used in the interior of the ship.  The wood came with a certificate of authentication.   From time to time, portions of the ship are refitted, and a small amount of oak finds its way into special projects.   As you might have guessed, Stuart Mortimer helped Dennis obtain this piece to make the cannon model.

Among the oak trees

Dennis has been making acorn boxes just big enough to store a special piece of jewelry or any memento about the diameter of a quarter.

Acorn boxes benefit from a threaded lid, because the top is larger than the bottom.  Dennis cuts threads in the traditional English way, by using chasing tools and a good sense of rhythm.

Threads are always cut in very hard oily woods so that they do not crumble with use.  These bases are boxwood, and the tops are turned from blackwood, cocobolo, and mopani.

Remember: mighty oaks start as a small acorn.

Injury calls forth magic

cookingwandwebDennis has been on injured reserve since the Liggett family reunion in December 2010.  The grandsons proved to be remarkably capable tennis table players.   All woodturning projects are now on hold until the defiant rotators can be rewound this spring.

There is a video project waiting in England, fresh cherry logs on the ground in Missouri, and numerous masterpieces locked in the wood shop’s lumber supply.   Nevertheless, Dennis has figured out that he can still do some small diameter spindle work.   Magic wands, to be exact.  Two grandchildren had broken their Harry Potter wands (made last year for Halloween), two more had wands on order, and then son James requested a gift for a co-worker with a difficult new assignment. Instructions for the Harry Potter wands are vague enough to allow changes in wood and general design.  The photo is an early prototype which has found a home in the Liggett kitchen as a general purpose cooking wand.

Pepper Mill




Dennis makes an English-style pepper mill learned from Allan Batty.  This shape allows a good grip for grinding when held either vertically, or perpendicularly to the food.   Maple is a good choice for tableware because of its hardness and durability, as well as its non-aromatic character.  This is a lovely piece of tiger-striped maple.

The upside-down salt shaker  repeats the shape of the pepper mill.

Peppermill    11″ tall

Salt Shakeer  3,25″ tall