“Natural Edge” Napkin Holders

tree-to-napkin-holderOne of the benefits of being married is that I now have knowledge of a whole range of implements that were previously entirely foreign to me.  Although some might claim that for me these included sponges or cleaning products other than Greased Lightning*, today I’m referring to napkin holders.

After observing the little wooden plant pots that I made, as well as my (nearly identical) pencil holder, my wife suggested that “napkin holders” could be made in a similar way.  After procrastinating for a while, I decided to give it a try.

Taking a piece of wood that I slaughtered from my backyard several months ago, I cut it into pieces around one and a quarter inches long with my miter saw.  From here, I drilled a  one and a half inch hole in the middle of the pieces using my small mill/drill press.  This turned out to be slightly too small, so it was made larger with a 1 3/4 inch hole saw.  See below for lots of process pictures:

Unlike my pots/pencil holders, the drilling operation was done before placing it on the lathe.  This allowed me to chuck my workpiece up from the middle ( this is the first time I’d tried this) and turn the whole outer diameter.  I made sure to set the stop up so I didn’t crash my tooling, using leftover links from a link belt to keep it separate from the chuck before locking the workpiece down.  This belt runs my lathe, so use as a spacer was a cool secondary use for the extra pieces.  After some lathe turning and sanding, the napkin holder was made round.  Some bark was left of the edge for an interesting effect.

natural-edge-napkin-holder-in-useAfter two coats of eurethane/stain (Minwax Chestnut, available from Amazon), it looked quite good and held a napkin/knife/fork well.  This picture is actually of the holder at 1 1/2 inches, before the holes were made larger.  The walls are now slightly thinner.

I’ve done quite a few projects like this in my Lathe turning section, so be sure to check it out.  For one of my favorites, why not check out this post where my LED-enabled natural edge “Master ‘Shroom” starts a cult (in glorious stop motion).


Master ‘Shroom begins his reign of terror

*Accurately.  No, I didn’t own a sponge until I met my wife.  Between paper towels and the dishwasher, they seemed quite useless.  As for cleaning products, I originally bought a bottle of Greased Lightning in college because I heard it was a good degreaser for mountain bike parts.  It is, and it does, as I eventually discovered, clean stuff.  Apparently you need more than this to keep everything adequately clean.

This is the first time I’ve used the “slideshow” option for my photo gallery in a post.  What do you guys think?  I’d love your comments.


  1. Those are really neat. My wife wants a whole dining room full of natural edge furniture, so I’m sure she’d be thrilled if I made her some of these. Are they pecan wood? I really need to learn how to work a lathe. (And most other shop tools.)

    Keep the posts coming!

    • McKay from GMG? Thanks for reading!

      Yeah, I need to learn how to use a lathe as well :), but I’ve been getting better at faking it! The wood came from a tree I chopped down in my back yard; I think it’s some type of oak.

      “A whole dining room,” – Not that she meant this exactly, but I just keep picturing a circular table with a one inch slice of a giant tree as the top surface. That would be a giant lathe for that one!

  2. I want a set of these! Beautiful napkin holders. These would make a good birthday present, hint hint.

  3. Very cool. You could probably embellish these with a wood burner pretty easily.

  4. Hi Jeremy,
    I just love the simplicity and the natural beauty of the wood napkins holders you made!! Would you be willing to make 70 of them for me… we are surprising my parents with a party for their silver anniversary in September and that would be an awesome addition to the rustic theme.
    Please, let me know how you feel about it