Turning The Cardboard Bottle Stopper

Turning cardboard on the lathe. I needed a quick project after a failed larger project. This started out as an experiment, but I have to say I really like the look of it!

I not sure if another cardboard project is in my future but for now, I'm just happy to follow up a failure with a success!

I simply took an old HP printer box from the

office and cut some of it into strips.

It's interesting because cardboard had a pattern similar to wood grain.

I really liked the way the "end grain" of the corrugation appeared, so I tried my best to preserve that.

I cut five pieces into 1 1/2" discs for placement into a mold. Exact fix is not required as you'll be turning most of it down anyway.

I was looking through my PVC pipe collection for a 1 1/2 to 2" end cap for the casting. What I found was this reducer. So I put a couple pieces of masking tape over one end and got out my epoxy.

In the shop I use West System epoxy. (105 resin with 207 hardener) It's pricey at $70 a quart but not the only option.

 I've also had good luck with Super Glaze and I've heard good things about a Polyester Resin called Castin' Craft. Amazon Affiliate Links

I mixed in about 2oz of resin with the 5 cardboard discs and let them harden over night (a couple nights in truth)

Now, right behind me this whole time was a bottle of mold release that I bought just for this reason, but in my haste I completely forgot it.  As such removing the casting from my mold took quite a bit of persuading...

What was interesting was that most of the epoxy wicked into the cardboard, leaving the holes open, and just adding rigidity to the cardboard.  I really liked this idea and decided to try and turn away as much of the epoxy as possible to reveal this look.

Now, I've turned a lot of bottle stoppers on the lathe, so forgive me but the steps are rather second nature, and I have all the parts required. Lets talk about what it is you'll need.

First you need a hole 3/8" drilled in what will become the bottom of your stopper. I do this in my with my drill bit in the tail stock. You could do this with a handheld drill, or at the drill press if you have one.

I have a bottle stopper mandrel, but it is basically just a 3/8 bold held in the head stock. You could accomplish this my hacking off a 3/8 carriage bolt and holding it in Jacobs chuck. Before I bought my mandrel, this is what I did.

It turned easily enough with my spindle gouge, though I did have to stop and sharpen it twice during the process!

 I then sanded it with 400 grit and gave it a few spray coats of lacquer.

After the lacquer dried, I used an tooth pick to pick all the loose bits out if the holes. You can see and blow air right through all the holes! In fact it just looks just like cardboard, but it is rock hard like epoxy. An interesting little artifact.

The stopper assembly is simple. The corks come pre-drilled. You just cut a 3/8 dowel to length and glue it into the stopper and add the cork to the end.

Done. Now you've got a cardboard bottle stopper, well, at least I do.

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