DIY Texturing Tool

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Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2010
Saratoga Springs, NY
Normally, I tried to achieve smooth surfaces in the items I turn, and spend (relatively) lots of money on sandpaper to make the finished items as smooth as possible. But recently, I become intrigued with texturing, and opted to try to make some texturing tools.

My starting point was the excellent tutorial by Mike Peace on making a rotary texturing tool similar to the Henry Taylor Decorating Elf. Mike has posted instructions on line that include a complete parts list and directions on where to find the components. Mike also has a YouTube video on using the tool.

The components needed to make this tool are fairly inexpensive, but they aren't always easy to find. As Mike points out in his instructions, they can be ordered on-line, but the shipping cost adds up rapidly. I found that there are clever ways to source the components without paying for shipping.

Components such as the handle and ferrule are things that most turners already have around. You will also need a 1/4" rare earth magnet - I had some in the shop, but they are also available at both hardware stores and hobby/craft suppliers. The magnet serves as both a thrust bearing for the cutter, and the mechanism to hold the replaceable cutter in the tool. The shaft is made from a plumbing fitting - nominally a 1/8x4" brass pipe nipple. I bought mine at Homer's, and I suspect most any hardware store with a decent plumbing section will have them. By the way, a key component in the design is that the 1/4" rare earth magnet has to fit inside the shaft. While these nipples are advertised as '1/8"', the ID is actually quite a bit larger. It would be prudent to take along a caliper when shopping for the nipple so that you can actually measure the ID of the item you buy. You will also need a length of 1/8" hardwood dowel - which you can either buy locally, or make.

The cutter is a readily available Dremel accessory. You may be able to find it on the rack at your hardware store. I found that the selection of Dremel accessories is really random, and none of the stores in our area actually had this cutter in stock. Fortunately, it is possible to order it on-line from Ace Hardware for pickup at your local store without a delivery charge.

That leaves the sleeve bearing. Larger hardware stores often stock bronze sleeve bearings, but they may not have bearings with the 1/8" bore required to match the Dremel cutter. You can buy them on line, but that's where the shipping cost issue arises.

My workaround was to use a plastic sleeve bearing rather than a bronze bearing. HDPE and UMHW both make good sleeve bearings, and can easily be machined using a wood lathe. I used a scrap of HDPE salvaged from an inexpensive cutting board from the dollar store. I intentionally made the bore slightly oversized by using a #30 drill bit (0.1285"). Most glues won't bond to HDPE, so I machined grooves around the circumference so that the epoxy would cure to form ridges in the grooves that locked the sleeve into the shaft mechanically.

Bottom line: my total out-of-pocket cost for parts was less than $15 - for the brass nipple and the cutter. Everything else was made from stuff I had lying around in the shop.


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