Turning a wooden bracelet on the lathe is surprisingly easy. Once you have the chuck made (see here) it’s a matter of drilling your center hole and preparing the wood. I’ve found that most woman’s bracelets have an inner diameter of 2.5 inches, so this is the size hole-saw I use. This is a large hole, so take it slow and remember to hold on tight to the wood so it doesn’t rotate as you drill (clamping it may be smart)
Once the hole is cut, try and trim as much wood off as you can, especially focusing on the corners. Not only will this save time on the lathe, but it will also minimize chip out, the enemy of the lathe. Often while making these bracelets, especially with the more exotic woods (Rosewood is pictured), you have little control over the direction of the grain. If the length of your grain is rotating into you, that is perpendicular to the axis of rotation, you are especially prone to this. But, with the corners trimmed and sharpe knives, this problem will be minimized.
With the wood trimmed and the whole drilled, you’re ready for the lathe/the fun part.
Until you have a fully round shape, take things slow. Once you have a roughed out shape, feel free to let your creativity flow free. Round, flat, grooved, and even burnt lines are all great places to start. I like to have a simple, clean cut, shape and let the wood’s natural beauty come out. With good sanding on the lathe, this is easily accomplished. I like to use a very course sandpaper to get the shape exactly where I want it, then progressive sandings of 120, 220, and 360 grits to get a nice smooth surface. When it’s time to take it off the lathe, 95% of the work is done.
Once it’s off the lathe, take some time to really sand the edge and inside. While you can get most of the edge on the corner while it’s still in the lathe, you’ll inevitably have to finish it by hand. I don’t mind this hand work though, it allows you to take a good look at your new creation and enjoy the grain
With all your trimming, turning, and sanding complete you’re now ready for a finish. I like to use an oil based finish, largely because it allows you to build up multiple coats and increase natural luster without getting a think finish. With oily woods, however, take care to clean the wood immediately before applying a finish with Acetone or rubbing alcohol. This will greatly reduce dry times, increase penetration, and create a smooth finish. For a final coat I like to apply a wax based finish, this will allow it be buffed and shined as it is worn, pretty cool!