Osage Orange Wide Mouth Vase

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Project by David Craig posted 01-24-2011 05:23 AM 3604 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Osage Orange Wide Mouth Vase
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A couple of months ago, Mike (jockmike2) gifted me with half of an Osage orange log he purchased from Raven’s farm. I set the piece aside for a little while as I get a little too self conscious when I work on a piece of gifted wood. For starters, I realize that a person more skilled than myself is putting their own pleasure in second to my own, and they are showing a great deal of faith in me by entrusting me with a piece that is a little special and not of the every day sort. So I sat on it for a little while until I had the time and courage to proceed. Immediate goals were to use as much of the log as possible (sometimes I feel like my smaller turnings are a result of way too much sawdust hitting the shop floor) and to make it something that exceeded or at least became a pinnacle that set the bar for me as a current skill set. I hate to brag about my own work, but I feel that both goals were met and I think this is the best piece, yet, that I have produced on the lathe.

Osage Orange is a challenging wood. The grain goes in every which direction and it is the densest wood on the North American continent (no exaggeration, it is a documented fact). The unpredictable grain makes it lovely when finished but it does not give its beauty away freely. My skills in turning, sharpening, and design were all put to the test. When starting the hollow, I found that it took two hours on this log to take out two inches of depth alone. The interior had two knots that surrounded the pith of the log making it extremely difficult to make any progress with the existing chisels in my collection. The picture below demonstrates the challenging interior -

Knots alone are challenging enough. I can honestly say from personal experience that knots in this piece were very much akin to cutting solid concrete. Mike had given me an old skew chisel that he converted into a bit of a bowl scraper. I ground the edge of it to knife like sharpness and attacked the knot from the side. The spinning of the vessel allowed me to slice it by starting at the center and then angling the blade towards the interior wall. This allowed me to gain about another 3 inches of depth that I would not have been able to obtain otherwise.

Again, embarrassed as I am to toot my own hone, this piece challenged me in hardness of wood, sticking to design, and modifying tools to confront the challenge of the time. Cracking within the log was handled using CA glue and sawdust from the turning. The piece was finished using clear coats of shellac with 800 grit sandings in between.

My thanks to Mike for his generous gift of the wood.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

11 comments so far

View Rustic's profile


3256 posts in 4078 days

#1 posted 01-24-2011 05:34 AM

As I said Friday, a very nice piece

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3588 days

#2 posted 01-24-2011 05:38 AM

David, Great to hear that you had a great time and raised your personal bar. That’s what it is all about. I may have to break down and get a lathe pretty soon. I’m beginning to feel like I’m missing out on something good. lol
Very nice work on this bowl. Rand

View dubsaloon's profile


622 posts in 3275 days

#3 posted 01-24-2011 12:23 PM

Nice vase. I like it with the flare at the top. Thank you for sharing.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View CaptainAhab's profile


214 posts in 3279 days

#4 posted 01-24-2011 04:09 PM

Nice turning, but wondering about the color.? I have worked Osage quite a bit, and unless left out in the sun it is an intense yellow with soft orange shading. Did you purposely “sun tan” the piece?

-- Dave

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4155 days

#5 posted 01-24-2011 04:33 PM

Nice looking vase.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3590 days

#6 posted 01-24-2011 04:57 PM

Thanks for the kind comments all. As far as the color goes, there was no intentional tanning, but there was a fair amount of sunlight coming into the house. I think the rapidity of the color change is affected by the amount of pigmentation in the finish as well as the amount of UV protection. Since I went clear coat with no UV resistance, the change was a little rapid, though it still retained a certain amount of gold mixed in with the brown.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View CaptainAhab's profile


214 posts in 3279 days

#7 posted 01-25-2011 03:56 PM

Here is the color I am used to:

-- Dave

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3590 days

#8 posted 01-25-2011 04:31 PM

Thanks for the example Dave, very nice piece of Osage Orange. Was this from a log or turning blank? I know there are species of the tree that lie outside of the US as well and I believe some dealers will sell the Austrian species due to the wood being more workable than the state side species. The log I had started out more of a luminous yellow with some dark streaks that have darkened more since it left the basement. I have seen samples in various hues but usually only see the bright orange in store bought samples. Definitely can’t ask for a harder wood to use as a Baton.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View CaptainAhab's profile


214 posts in 3279 days

#9 posted 01-26-2011 11:53 PM

This is grown in Iowa, and harvested by me.

-- Dave

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4567 days

#10 posted 02-19-2011 06:15 PM

Dave, that is a very nice piece. I had missed your turnings, and am glad to see these. I worked one small bowl in Osage and loved it, ordered more and found it cracks pretty badly when transported to my drier climate, but if I can work a piece without knots, it cuts well and burnishes up so beautifully I am in awe of it. This one is nicely done!


View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 2688 days

#11 posted 05-15-2012 01:44 AM

That is really beautiful. I love the color!!!

-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

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