For years, one of the great mysteries to me was, how did artisans of the past make those spectacular decorative twist finials often found on the most elaborate grandfather clocks, highboys, and other high-grade period furniture? In this video, we meet Irion Company staffer Brad Ramsay, an accomplished cabinetmaker and highly skilled carver who shows us the fundamental approach used to carve these flamboyant furniture elements. It’s a technique that can be used to carve spirals in any wood project, be it a finial or even a twisted table leg.

Learn the core skills used including how to secure the workpiece to the workbench, how to start the carving, and how to rough-carve to the layout lines. But most importantly, in my view, Jeff explains how carvers — and all woodworkers — need to read the grain of the wood for feedback. The take-away lesson: let the wood speak to you whether you are carving the twist of a finial or tuning the fit of a dovetail. — Keith (10 Minute Woodworking Video) For more in this series go to: The Big Payoff: Finish Carve a Decorative Spiral (Part 3 of 3)

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The Irion Company specializes in the restoration, conservation, and hand-made reproduction of American antique furniture from the 18th and 19th century. Brad Ramsay is a cabinetmaker and he specializes in period correct carvings.

(10) Comments   



I just found your website and all I can say is WOW! This is just unreal what you are providing us and for free no less. I just wanted to thank you and I’ll pass the word about your site! — Don

Keith’s Note: Thanks Don. I hope you feel right at home here.


I’ve had the pleasure of watching Parts 2 & 3 of the hand carved twist finial. Where can I find part 1?

Keith’s Note: Hi Donna. The best way to keep updated is to sign-up for my email updates or you can subscribe via RSS free. (Update – That video has now been released and is available here

Maria João Lopes

Very interesting this blog. I will learn a lot and congratulations for all the work.

John Marshall

Very informative. Will hope to view more thanks

Charlie Yates

I’ve been looking for a site like this for ages. Thanks, you now have a regular viewer. Great site.

steve corry

I want to make spiral walking canes. I have one made by an Amish man, but these folks keep things rather close to their chests, so I don’t think I could get instructions from him. My thought is to buy them from him and resell them via the net, but it would be so much more fun to make them. I want to view your videos and receive your email updates. Thanks, Steve Corry.


I also just discovered your site and, thank you. I’ll tell my friends. Tom


In watching the twist finial video, I’d like to offer an idea. Modify your jig to use two knobs, rather than the two screws. You can then lose the screwdriver. Tom


Man thank you for this website and your videos. This is great stuff!


Great site.

Only other comment is I have a hard time understanding some of the presenters as either my hearing is gone or they mumble in hushed tones. Hmmm…does that make this a secret society? :)

Keith’s Note: Hmmm. I went back and listened and I’m not hearing issues on this video. We go to great lengths to mic the presenter correctly, monitor audio levels and mix the audio carefully during the edit. I’ll keep an ear open to hear if others are having similar issues. It might be something regarding your network feed or device.