turnings #5: too thin a champagne glass turning

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 08-04-2009 11:24 AM 3429 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: A bowl from that fallen Jacaranda wood Part 5 of turnings series Part 6: two natural-edge jacaranda bowls »

After knocking out a Jacaranda bowl in one lunch break, I was a little fired up that night to do more, so I got a stick of Jacaranda from the pile and cut it into some small pieces for making tiny champagne glasses.

Jacaranda stick

small pieces cut from Jacaranda stick

My attempt here was to go very thin-wall. I didn’t bother with process pics (it gets a little tedious sometimes :) You can see light shining through the walls into the interior of the glass:

thin wall Jacaranda champagne glass turning

Unfortunately, I went a little too thin in the middle. Note how much extra light is coming in around the widest part of the bowl:

too thin in the middle

Also note in the previous images how wet the outer edges of the wood are down at the base. The whole thing was like that, but centrifugal force is pushing the water in the tree to the outsides, and sprinkling me with it as I turn.

The shape of the glass came out very nicely. I turned the outside of the glass bowl first, then the inside, then went back for the stem. Still, I didn’t feel completely secure when doing the inside. I used my internal scraping tool mostly, as the other tools in my collection don’t handle deep, narrow passages like this without so much chattering it would seem they’ll shatter the piece. I’ve seen a few tools that will work better, but I especially just need smaller tools. Much of what I have at the moment is geared for larger work.

displaying the glass interior

My thumb fits nicely :)

thumb in turned wine glass

I gave up on this one, as the thin middle was so thin, it was sort of cracking. Fibers were sticking through in both directions, and while it was still wet, I could push on the rim and make the top half of the bowl move away from the bottom half, before it would spring back. Now that it’s dry, it won’t do that, but it feels absolutely paper-like and fragile. It would be really hard to finish well. I tried, though.

I rubbed on a mixture of denatured alcohol and brown aniline dye. It came out looking dark brown. Nothing special. Later, I wiped on some water-based wipe-on poly, and it looked ‘better,’ but it’s still just not worth anything. I parted it off into a proper glass, and it must weigh less than a mailed letter. I feel a stiff breeze could blow it skyward.

I’ll probably make some more of these, and just go more carefully and leave things thicker. There’s something neat about a wood glass that’s feathery light, as long as it’s just thick enough to be sturdy.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

7 comments so far

View spanky46's profile


995 posts in 4729 days

#1 posted 08-04-2009 12:33 PM

Nice Gary! You have caught the turning bug for sure! No cure, terminal!

-- spanky46 -- Never enough clamps...Never enough tools...Never enough time.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5160 days

#2 posted 08-04-2009 01:08 PM

Gary, it does look like you are enjoying yourself. But I have to agree with Spanky about the “disease” that you have caught. Rather than having a nice relaxing lunch in a 5 star restaurant you elect to come home and turn. :) Sounds like a good way to recharge your battery to me and get ready for another grueling afternoon at work!!

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4987 days

#3 posted 08-04-2009 04:54 PM

NICE. this would be a sweet candle holder with the light breaking through the woodgrain…

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View lew's profile


13488 posts in 5094 days

#4 posted 08-04-2009 08:22 PM


Really Neat!!

What tool are you using to hollow the inside?


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Karson's profile


35295 posts in 5739 days

#5 posted 08-04-2009 08:27 PM

Gary: a great job. Nice practice piece. So let us see it with all of the dyes also.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4722 days

#6 posted 08-04-2009 08:47 PM

What’s the problem? I thought you were supposed to be able to see through a champagne glass. Looking at the first pic with you holding the log/stick I wouldn’t have thought you could even get a turning that size out of it. It looks like you’re jumping right into a lot of different turnings with I’m sure a lot of great things to come out of it after a little practice.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4720 days

#7 posted 08-05-2009 08:43 AM

Spanky and Scott – Yes, it’s true. I find I’m running home at lunch times and after work each day anymore to jump into some more turning.

Lev – Good idea! I should play with the theme of candlelight and holders when I get better. Thanks! I have been wanting to try out some small lampshade turnings, especially with something like some end grain segmented setups. Surprisingly, light looks really pretty when shone through thin Douglas fir end grain. I had some very thin cutoffs from something I was building and learned this.

Lew – I’ve been trying everything, and I’m still not really settled on anything. I have some tools I’m looking forward to getting to improve this, based on what I’ve learned. I love how I had no clue whatsoever when I started as to what tools I’d need, and actually had to get a guy at Rockler to come over and point to what he thought would be the best 1 or 2 starter tools for me, the clueless. Now, with a few weeks of turning under my belt, I’m saying things like “this bevel should really be more like this, and I want a flat here for better control against the rest,” and I’ve even considered bending, grinding, and honing my own tools out of tool steel, because I’m starting to ‘get’ what’s needed, and what I think I’ll prefer. That said, I tend to start with a 1/2” Sorby bowl gouge, turning from the center out in small layers. As I get deeper, at least for now, I switch to a Sorby internal scraper, the kind that has a circular insert screwed into the end. When the square bar is set flat on the tool rest, the bit is tilted down 45°. This actually causes a bit of chatter, and I’d prefer something with a small circular insert held flat when the bottom is flat on the tool rest. There are some internal tools with pivoting heads that look like real winners that I’m hoping to add to my arsenal soon. I should do a post one day when I get better as to how I view turning. I’ve had to compile from a lot of videos I’ve found online to figure out what works best for me. Maybe I can do a nice summing up of all of that.

Karson – Alright, I’ll get some snaps of the parted piece with the dark brown dye and one slipshod coat of wipe-on poly, which I never bothered sanding. It doesn’t actually look too bad, but it’s definitely not any kind of masterpiece.

Dale – Haha! True. I wish I had the skills to reliably and quickly (and confidently) turn paper-thin turnings at my leisure. As to the small stuff, yes, there’s beauty to be found even in twigs! A perfect example of this is the work of Mike Rowe. He’s a miniature turning genius.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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