Cutting Flutes on Small Diameter Turnings

When cutting flutes on small stock of from 3/4 to 3 inches in diameter, there are some special considerations.

Core Box Router Bits:
 You might want to consider 3/8 to 1/4 inch router bits on these small diameters.This allows more flutes and a better perspective.

Depth of Cut Roller:
Proximity Depth Guide bridges across uncut wood and makes it better to cut flutes closer together. 

Short Length Flutes:
 If cutting flutes of short length it might be necessary to shorten the length of beginning and ending stops, or to cut the inside of flute stops on angles. Stops are expendable and you can cut short-length stops in order to give clearance for movement of the Flute Master. Tip: drill a hole halfway between the hole in the center of a stop block and the end (1/4 of the length of the stop block). Then bolt the stop block to the lathe bed so the Flute Master has more room to swivel).

Using these methods you can cut 8 flutes on a 3/4 inch diameter piece with a 3/8 inch router bit (maybe 10 flutes if you are venturesome). See the candle holder in the Gallery for an example of a small-diameter turning.

Flute Math:
If cutting flutes on a piece of 3.25 inches in widest diameter, using a 3/8 inch core box router bit:

3/8 bit plus 1/8 inch between flutes, the total width per flute is 1/2 inch.
The circumference is 3.25 X Pi (3.1414) or 10.20955 inches.
10.20955 divided by 1/2 inch equals a possible number of flutes of 20.42.
Because the diameter at the small diameter of curved piece is less, 18 lutes is probably the right choice.

When calculating the number of flutes, remember to calculate both the largest and smallest diameters of your piece.