Turning a Light Bulb Ornament

This Christmas Light Bulb Ornament is a quick and easy project that you can make with figured scrap pieces of wood lying around your shop. It makes a great gift to family and friends during the holidays.

A turned lightbulb ornament with red bulb and gold cap.

Preparing the Blank

Select a blank 1-3/4″ x 1-3/4″ x 3-1/2″. Use a center finder to mark the center on each end of the blank. Mount the blank on the lathe between centers using a cone center and drive center.

Mounting an ash wood blank into chuck jaws.

Turning the Blank

Rough down the blank to round using a roughing gouge. Turn a tenon on one end of the blank to fit in the jaws of your chuck. Mount the tenon in a chuck, support the opposite end with a revolving center.

Using a spindle gouge turn the blank to the desired shape. Remove the tailstock and carefully turn away the waste material.

Turning the bulb shape with a spindle gouge.

Sanding and Sealing

Sand the ornament through 320 grit or higher. Finish the ornament with your choice of finish. We recommend using Deft Clear Wood Finish to seal and finish the blank. Apply the Deft to the ornament with the lathe stopped using a brush or rag. Apply liberally to the blank and wipe off the excess. Once dry, use a paste wax and Steel Wool while the lathe is running to smooth the deft, to leave a sealed and streak-free surface.

Decorating the Ornament

With the lathe running around 500 rpm, color the body of the bulb using a Tombow Marker with the brush tip held in a trailing position below center. You can also use a traditional dye for coloring the ornament body if you choose.

To make the ornament look genuine, use Gilder’s Paste and completely cover the “threaded” portion of the ornament keeping the wax as even and consistent as possible. Let the wax dry for 5-10 minutes, use a clean rag and softly buff the wax.

Hint: Wrap masking tape around the bulb section to prevent the paste from coloring the bulb.

Using a red Tombow marker to color the bulb.

Finishing the Ornament

  1. Finish the ornament using a spray lacquer.
  2. With the lathe running, use a parting tool or the long point of a skew and part the ornament from the remaining blank. Sand and finish the end of the blank.
  3. Drill a 1/16″ dia. hole in the end of the ornament and screw in the eye screw.
Holding a turned light bulb ornament.


4 thoughts on “Turning a Light Bulb Ornament”

  1. I have done this project in the past , it turns out cool.

    But why use such a big piece of stock to start with, start with a 1 x 1 x 3 and do not waste so much tree.


Leave a Comment