What's the point of a hollow vessel?

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Forum topic by Avi posted 01-23-2019 10:09 AM 888 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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25 posts in 1051 days

01-23-2019 10:09 AM

Have a bit of an anti-establishment question.

I love turning and am trying my hand now on a hollow vessel. Until now I have hollowed out some relatively deep and tall goblets (my deepest is 4.5 inches) and clearly for a cup, one needs to make space. Have rarely needed to use a bent tool.

Now, I understand why one would hollow out a vase.
Even why to hollow out a hanging ornament, for the lower weight.
Also, when people do piercing.

But it struck me, as I got yet another catch with the swan neck (I am probably jumping ahead with too small a hole for my first attempt), that no one will know if the inside is hollow, or not. The external form is what matters. And I am not going to store wine in them!

So, other than a test of skill (don’t worry, I am not giving up), why hollow a hollow vessel?

-- ~

9 replies so far

View Underdog's profile


1519 posts in 2845 days

#1 posted 01-23-2019 11:12 AM

Although I’ve only made a couple of hollow forms, I feel your pain. A swan neck tool beats you up.
If I did this more frequently I’d be looking hard at a captured hollowing system like Carter makes…

I’ve seen quite a few folks who minimally hollow their forms. I’ve even seen one person who just used a forstner bit and very little else. Personally I tend to dismiss a urn or vase shaped chunk of wood that mimics functionality, but has none at all. I don’t know why that is, because I don’t view sheer sculptural pieces that way…

Anyway, good luck with your forms, and looking into captured hollowing tools. Your joints will thank you….

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View OSU55's profile


2651 posts in 2799 days

#2 posted 01-23-2019 01:30 PM

I agree that hollow “vessels” (ie non functional unlike a vase) are more a form of sculpture/art and a contest of turners skill – lets see you do that! I agree it doesnt add to the visual impact, but makes a big impact if people are allowed to handle the object.

Interestingly captured systems and laser or video systems have removed most all the turning skill from the equation, turnng it into a contest of who can buy or build the best system. It hasnt stopped me tho, I joined the party – Im in the process of designing/building a captured system. Ive done some vases ~ 6” deep, gets difficult to control the cutting edge. With small openings and much depth all it takes is one lapse in concentration and the almost finished piece is destroyed, hence Im joining the captured ranks.

View JADobson's profile


1448 posts in 2920 days

#3 posted 01-23-2019 02:17 PM

While it might not add to the visual impact it sure does add to the tactile impact. When you lift up a thin walled hollow form and it weighs almost nothing there is certainly more impact when you pick it up and it weighs 3 pounds.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View splintergroup's profile


3867 posts in 2032 days

#4 posted 01-23-2019 07:38 PM

It’s also structural. Think how a log checks and cracks as it dries. If you hollow it out, it can change MC without cracking as badly (or at all).

View Wildwood's profile


2879 posts in 2944 days

#5 posted 01-23-2019 08:56 PM

Been turning many years before getting into hollowing. Still learning but if look at my project page like to do turn lot of different stuff. Don’t always post pictures of turned items and never post where went thru side of a hollow form with either straight or curved tool. My homemade laser set- should keep me from that!

Hollowing just another part of woodturning that includes more than vases and urns. All the lamps turned on my project page have been hollowed.

Let the tools you have and wood in front of you be your guide whether open or small diameter form, end or side grain go for it!

Two woodturners that think a lot of are John Jordan and Lyle Jamieson inspired me in fact own tools from both. While met them years ago read articles and watched their videos didn’t buy their tools until few years back. Today a lot of great tools out there made by others for sale or make your own just don’t give up!

-- Bill

View Mike_D_S's profile


605 posts in 3024 days

#6 posted 01-24-2019 02:55 AM

I’ll echo what JADobson posted. I do some hollow forms and my typical shape is a general vase shape about 7 to 8” tall and 4” in diameter. I never get tired of seeing the look on someone’s face when they pick it up expecting it to be heavy because it’s wood and get that first surprise at how light it really is.


-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View bigJohninvegas's profile


789 posts in 2271 days

#7 posted 01-24-2019 03:25 AM

I agree with about everything said here so far. A thin hollowed piece is more stable than thick or solid. And the challenge to turn something so thin, and to handle it when it is done. Feels so fragile.
I have successfully turned a few hollow forms. My skill level is not there yet to get them as thin as I would like. But I am not giving up either. I have turned several more hollow forms into bowls while trying to get them as thin as possible.
This last year I was able to attend a demo by Mike Jackofski, and hopefully I will be able to take a full class later this year.

-- John

View Kelly's profile


3053 posts in 3754 days

#8 posted 01-24-2019 04:57 AM

I started turning a couple years ago. I’ve taken a couple stabs at bowls and such, but have zero interest in making hollow forms. Instead, I stay with spindle work. On that, I strive to set myself apart from even those far more talented than me by coming up with things that are unique in their own right (e.g., copper plated turnings, offset door stops, wood-copper-acrylic ornaments, unique walking sticks).

That said:

1) I appreciate and, regularly, marvel at what others do in the hollow form realm (I am fortunate to be able to rub elbows some nationally known turners on a monthly basis); and,

2) I, also, do not try to make but a few things my fellow Lumberjocks make.

In the end, hollow forms are much like many of the things we see on these pages, we do it because we can, not because we need to.

View TravisH's profile


719 posts in 2745 days

#9 posted 01-25-2019 03:37 AM

Hollowing does have a visual impact also. Unless you display the piece so everyone is looking up.

A thin visible edge, or deep undercut all add visual interest and a tactile element, as I notice many end up running their finger along the lip and inside edge of the vessel.

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