How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

I turned my first ear plug purely as a challenge when the question was asked on a turning forum and nobody could provide an answer.  I didn't know much about them, only a general concept of the shape I was going after.

This method does use a chuck, but I'll go over how to do it without one, as well. Also, specific sizing won't be covered. 

Step 1 Choosing Your Wood Blank

I started this project with a 1¼"x 3" piece of cherry.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

I had to turn a tenon on this piece to get it to fit into my small chuck jaws. After it is in the chuck, finish turning a cylinder a little larger than your final size and don't forget to true up the end.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

Step 2 If You Want the Tunnel Type, Now Is the Time to Drill

If you want a simple flat, concave or convex face, simply leave off the drilling and simply shape the end as you wish.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

Step 3 Mark the Width and Shape the Inner Cove

At this point, I not only mark the width, but use a parting tool to take some of the wood away. That is because once you finish shaping the cove, it's sanding time. Depending on your lathe skills, you can determine what grit sandpaper you need to begin with.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

Sand to the marked edge and part the piece off and you have what you see below. We're halfway there.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

Tips

  • Your local hardware store will likely only carry sandpaper up to 800 grit. You can find higher grits at your local automotive parts store. If you really want to go super smooth, you can buy micro mesh sandpapers that pen turners use at woodworking stores either locally or online.

Step 4 Now for the Secret Weapon

It's a friction chuck.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

This is the tricky part. The recess is cut so that the half-finished plug is a tight fit, which allows you to work the other side. A piece of paper towel can be used to help get a tight fit and it protects the finished wood inside.

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

Go ahead and turn this side of the plug and sand. This can done using a faceplate as well.

Tips

  • If you don't have a chuck for your lathe, this is the part you really need. Simply turn a cylinder between centers and cut off short lengths for the plug and use the friction chuck to finish shaping them. Unfortunately, you will have to do all of the sanding by hand using this method.

The Finished Product

How to Turn Wooden Ear Plugs on a Lathe

Resources

1 Comment

Well this article about making wood ear plugs out of cherry wood was very informative and also helpful too. I would like to also say that the person whom did this article really took there time when putting this type of article together. You truly did a very nice job on it all and I just want to say thanks for sharing your expertise with all of us online....

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