What is a Bon-Q-Lator?
When I started doing woodturning about 10 years ago, I barely knew what I was doing. I practiced by making some of the simplest things you can make with a lathe like bowls, beer tap handles, and billy clubs. The word “billy club” isn’t a very positive word to use for a beautiful piece of wood, once carved and polished, so I started calling them “bon-q-lator”. I’m not sure where that came from, but it stuck.
Here’s the piece of wood I decided to use for the Bon-Q-Lator
I started with this piece of oak that looked pretty interesting and was more than big enough for the project. It was about 4′ long and had a couple of knots. The knots can be a problem, but they can also add a lot of personality to a simple piece like this. I’m not doing fine woodworking here so I can use all the help I can get from nature to make things look good.
How to section the log?
I decided to use the middle of the log, the part with the knot. It was about 18″ long and 6″ in diameter. I cut the log with my 14″ band saw and it revealed the log was made of pretty good wood, with some rot around the outside.
Here is what the piece looked like before I really did anything to it. It looks pretty interesting, like it could turn out with some interesting character.
It looks a little like something you would see in a Flintstone’s cartoon, but it’s still interesting.
After putting it on the lathe…
I turned it on the lathe and discovered some more rot around the knot hole, so I re-centered the knotty end of the club so there would be some bark left when the project was done. I’ve done this before and the results are generally pretty nice. Unfortunately, I did lose all of the “coolness” from the knot.
The club turned out pretty well… I think. I put a kind of geometric shape on the knob using the sander and it turned out OK. It’ snot my favorite, but there were flaws in the wood and this was a fairly straightforward way to remove them. You can’t see from this angle, but I drilled a hole through one side of the knob and out through the bottom so I could attach a lanyard. The bark turned out well, for now.
The East Tennessee winter really dried out the already seasoned wood. The bark separated from the cambium/sapwood and started to peel off. I went ahead and took it all off with a screwdriver. It still looks good, but not quite as interesting as with the bark.