Midnight Woodworking


Single piece crosier – part 1

I have had a request for a single piece crosier. The previous two croziers that I made were designed to be separated into three pieces so that they could be transported easily in a case. This one will be a single piece, about 80″ tall. This will be a challenge since the long part of the staff will be too long for my lathe. It will also have a curve at the top that will cross the grain of the wood so it will be very weak. On my first crosier the last few inches of the top actually broke off. On my second one, I created a cross-lamination in the curve to strengthen it considerably.


The original request was for the entire thing to be made from olive wood. Unfortunately olive trees do not grow straight or tall enough. I can find thin straight pieces but they are only about 12″-24″ long. If you want something longer, you would have to buy a slab but it would be so twisted and gnarly that you would have to cut it into small pieces to be usable anyway. Instead, I proposed a wood with a complimentary grain and color, and I will use thin pieces of olive wood through the center of the crosier to create the cross-lamination to strengthen the entire thing.

There are a couple of options that come close to the appearance of olive wood, like Elm, Hickory, Ash, etc. When I was at my local lumber dealer, I looked at each of these. The hickory would have been too heavy, the Elm just wasn’t straight, and the ash was too plain looking. I finally decided on wormy maple. Maple is strong, but light enough. It also has a grain pattern very much like the olive wood, but the wormy maple has dark streaks running through it. They should compliment the darker parts of the olive and give it a unique character at the same time.

I found two pieces that were 1-1/8″ thick. One was 15-1/2″ wide and the other 10-1/2″ wide. They will work perfectly for what I need.

I had a piece of olive wood but it was mostly brown and not big enough, but I found a 4″x4″13″ block of it at the store so I grabbed that as well.

Since the olive wood could dry out quickly and crack, they encase it in wax to ship it overseas. This prevents it from drying too quickly or reabsorbing moisture in a humid location.

The wax gives is a yellowish tint so I ran it through the jointer to clean off a face and see the true color of the wood.

Now it matches the grain color a lot better than before.

These maple boards are too large to safely run through my jointer to clean up the edge so I pulled out my track saw and cut a straight line along one edge.

That worked great.

I went ahead and trimmed the edge off the smaller board as well, then cut a parallel edge on the opposite sides with the table saw.

I cut the wide board down to the 13-1/2″ I needed to carve the head of the crosier, then went over to the miter saw to chop a couple of pieces down to a more manageable length.

I ran the boards through the planer, using a couple of very light passes.

I took the boards down to exactly 1″ thick. I was hoping for a little more color, but the wood is very pretty.

I loaded the first board into my CNC and started carving half of the top curve of the crosier.

The software estimated that it would take 5-1/2 hours for it to carve.

Took me all day to carve out both halves.

Since the CNC did not carve all the way through, I finish cutting out the tops on the band saw.

While I still have a straight edge, I cut off the end on the miter saw so that I have a square face to attach the lower part of the staff later.

Then it is back to the band saw to cut away the outside.

Since both pieces are mirror opposites, the flat sides mate together perfectly.

They will need a lot of sanding later, but there is no point until it is all glued together. I cut the smaller board in half , then planed it down to 1″ thick as well.

You can see in the picture below that the maple and olivewood compliment each other well. I think a stripe of olivewood running through the center will look really nice.

Now I have to select a 60″ long section from my board for the best grain match to the upper curved section. I would prefer not to have any of the darker sections butt to a white section at the join. I selected the best area and cut away the pieces I did not need, then I loaded it into the CNC.

My CNC is different than most out there because it can cut up to a 12′ long piece by rolling it back and fourth. There is more cleanup involved after the carve, but It doesn’t take up much floor space.

The software estimated that it will take about nine hours to carve, so I fired it up and went to do something else for the rest of the day…


One comment on “Single piece crosier – part 1

  1. Pingback: Single piece crosier – part 2 | Midnight Woodworking

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