Another banksia pod turning

  • Advertise with us
Project by Sanity posted 02-04-2011 02:17 AM 5590 views 3 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My last little banksia pod bud vase proved to be very popular with family and friends, so I felt somewhat obligated to make some more. This is the latest.

If you are not familiar with the banksia pod I have attached a picture of one to show what it looks like in its natural form. I can only describe it as being like a solid pine cone. They originate from Australia and are apparently very common there. They consist of about 4 layers – a hard brittle outer shell, a velvety layer, a woody layer, and a softer core.

I find them interesting to turn because you never know quite what you are going to get underneath the outer layers.

-- Stuart

10 comments so far

View dlgWoodWork's profile


160 posts in 4265 days

#1 posted 02-04-2011 02:20 AM

That looks sweet. What kind of finish did you use? How hard are they to sand down?

-- Check out my projects and videos

View Sanity's profile


176 posts in 3201 days

#2 posted 02-04-2011 02:28 AM

Thank you DGunn – they are fairly easy to sand, and I just go through the grits. I finish with Zinsser sanding sealer and General Finishes Arm-R-Seal gloss top coat.

-- Stuart

View peteg's profile


4435 posts in 3334 days

#3 posted 02-04-2011 02:28 AM

Nice turn there Stuart, they always come upwith a distinctive finish, well done

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 3562 days

#4 posted 02-04-2011 03:52 AM

Sort of the diamond in the rough idea with these pods. I’ve got one that I picked up a few months ago on sale and would like to turn it sometime this year, once I start turning.

I’ve heard the dust can be rather irrating; any insight on that? Also, do you have any tips on turning these?

Interesting little banskia pod vase!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Sanity's profile


176 posts in 3201 days

#5 posted 02-04-2011 04:07 AM

Jonathan, I have also heard that the dust can be rather irritating, particularly the outer layer, but I have not had any issues personally. I just find that they are rather messy, but I do use a dust mask at all times and a face shield. I am a beginner at wood turning so not sure that I can provide any useful tips – I just use a roughing gouge, 2 spindle gouges (one very small for the neck), and a skew chisel. I think you have to be careful not to go too deeply into the pithy final layer as it has no structural strength. So far I have been lucky and have had no issues.

-- Stuart

View dozuki's profile


103 posts in 3512 days

#6 posted 02-04-2011 07:07 AM

That looks great. I have to say that your safety precautions are a great idea new turner or old (experienced) I have worn the face shield eversince a block of wood went flying by my head. I love your vase where do you get the pods.

-- Couldn't think of anything clever. I LIKE WOOD

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3584 days

#7 posted 02-04-2011 09:06 AM

Very nice. I’ve seen these pods in wood working store many times but this is the first time I’ve seen one that was turned and finished. I just got one step closer to investing in a lathe of my own.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3586 days

#8 posted 02-04-2011 03:49 PM

Very nice.

I would like to ask a dumb question. How do you mount this on the lathe?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Steve's profile


119 posts in 3641 days

#9 posted 02-04-2011 04:54 PM

Penn State sells Banksia nuts. I was wondering what they would look like. Very cool. I may have to try some.

View Sanity's profile


176 posts in 3201 days

#10 posted 02-04-2011 05:43 PM

Thanks again for the comments. I bought mine on sale from the local Rocklers and Woodcraft.

I mount the pod on the lathe and shape it as follows (I am no expert and there may be more efficient ways to do this):
1. Flatten both ends on a disc sander, band saw, etc.
2. Mount on the lathe between the drive center and tail center
3. Use a gouge to form a regular cylinder and cut a tenon on one end to fit into a chuck
4. Remove the drive center and replace with the chuck (still using the tail center)
5. Shape and sand the form, part off the waste from the neck
6. Cut and shape the neck, apply finish, and part off the tenon

The only other tip I can think of is to start thinking about the shape of the vessel only after you have removed the outer layers and can see how much material you have to work with.

-- Stuart

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics