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Suggestions for turning this blank into a vase

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Forum topic by George Pagliarulo posted 01-25-2020 09:28 PM 412 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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George Pagliarulo

14 posts in 700 days


01-25-2020 09:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: vase technique natural skill question

About two years ago I had to cut down a large bush. I saved the base that looked like it would make an interesting vase. It’s been sitting in the shop ever since. What I would like to do is turn the outside up to the point that the branches come out then hollow out the center as much as possible. I’ll probably use a Forster bit to start hollowing it. I expect I’ll have a lot of handwork to do to get it hollowed. I want to try to carve the branches into something. Maybe make them look like petals or just shaped in some way..

I have turned bowls, including some simple segmented bowls but nothing like this.
Do you see any issues that make this project something that should be relegated to the fireplace instead?
if it is doable I’m looking for guidance on how to approach it. What should I watch out for when turning a blank like this that is not uniform. When hollowing it I think I’ll have to be very careful to not let the blank catch the tool. Any tips on what to watch for and what to avoid?

-- George Pag


16 replies so far

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

1220 posts in 3424 days


#1 posted 01-25-2020 10:11 PM

I have the same plan for a piece I saved, but it has three branches, pretty evenly spaced and a clear area in the middle to drill and hollow. Good luck with it, hope it works.

View LesB's profile

LesB

2350 posts in 4074 days


#2 posted 01-25-2020 10:11 PM

Personally the idea of trying to turn that on the lathe scares me. For what your are proposing I think it will have to all be “hand” work with chisels, carving tools, drills and possibly a power carving tool… a power head with a long cable and cutting bits.
You really lucked out in that there appears to be no cracks.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Phil32's profile

Phil32

893 posts in 534 days


#3 posted 01-26-2020 12:45 AM

It is hard to get a perspective on the size of the piece. Do you have a lathe with enough “throw” to handle it? The spacing of the branches makes it questionable as to where your centers would connect. The hollowing out would go down between the branches?

What is the wood, and what are its dimensions?

-- Phil Allin - There are mountain climbers and people who talk about climbing mountains. The climbers have "selfies" at the summit!

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2542 posts in 2620 days


#4 posted 01-26-2020 02:52 PM

Without doing “something” to the branch end you cant turn it on a lathe. There is no way to mount the branch end. The base could be faceplate mounted, but then the hollowing tools need to enter through the branch end.

Typically a “log” like this is mounted between centers and the faceplate/chuck end is turned to provide a proper surface to attach to. Some shaping of the OD may be done as well. So, figure out how/where to place a live center in the branch end. Without knowing approximate dimensions and hollow depth I cant tell you how big the hollow hole will need to be. The length of the branches pose a bit of an issue as well, especially the lower long one.

If you want the branch end intact, there is no reason to hollow it. Figure out a base then carve the branch end how you want. Or, cut the branches shorter and it could be hollowed on a lathe. Search for wood crotch vase to find examples and videos.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

4639 posts in 2018 days


#5 posted 01-26-2020 03:47 PM

It looks like you’ve got a pretty big chainsaw gash near the top so I think your best choice is to remove as much of the branches as possibly before you mount it on the lathe. That will make roughing much easier between centers too and mostly eliminate the hardest part of initial shaping. Having a bunch of branches spinning around is going to be a little hazardous and you will really have to pay attention to where your hands are as you are working. I’ve seen people do cool and crazy things with blanks like this but it requires a lot of experience to do it.

Note that even without the branches this may be a little ambitious for your first vase shaped hollow form. Based upon what look like a miter slot on the table it is sitting on, it looks pretty large and hollowing all the way down is going require some really long carbide or even specialty hollowing tools that can work when extended way beyond the tool rest. I would at least try hollowing a vase on a more manageable piece first so that you have a better idea what you may be dealing with.

It looks like some sort of cedar/cypress which is usually a pretty nice wood to work with on the lathe, though some of them can be a little brittle.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

576 posts in 1709 days


#6 posted 01-26-2020 03:50 PM

IMHO rough carve the branches so limiting as much of the ends as not needed. Mount the branch end on a spur center and form the tenon base and vase sides Reverse to hollow. Damn good idea and outside the box. TTU

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

View George Pagliarulo's profile

George Pagliarulo

14 posts in 700 days


#7 posted 01-26-2020 04:32 PM

It is 16” tall and about 11” on the branch end; 8” on the trunk. I’m thinking that I will use a forstner bit on the drill press to hog out a lot of material on the branch end and give me a flat area for the dead center. That will also get a lot of the branch material away from the center. Once I do that I’ll find the bottom center to mount the faceplate.
There is a chain saw gouge on one side. When I cut this down I didn’t do it with the idea of turning it. I have to figure out how to handle that.
There is one other issue to deal with. The bottom has a slight hollow. There is no soft wood or rot, it is all solid. I just need to use a large enough faceplate to fully cover it and get a solid attachment. Any issues with this?

-- George Pag

View Rink's profile

Rink

158 posts in 668 days


#8 posted 01-26-2020 05:32 PM

You can put a faceplate there, but how are you going to line up the axis so that a live center hits where you want it to be on the other side?

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

4639 posts in 2018 days


#9 posted 01-26-2020 05:35 PM

I am a little worried that that “hollow” is going to lead to some rot or punkiness that will make it tough to get a nice bottom on the vase. it could make it challenging to turn a tenon strong enough for a chuck or even attach a faceplate.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View George Pagliarulo's profile

George Pagliarulo

14 posts in 700 days


#10 posted 01-26-2020 06:01 PM

I’ve probed it and it is completely solid hardwood. Unless I cut the base back to solid wood I can’t use a tenon so I’m going to attach a faceplate. I have an idea of what I want the final vase to look like but I’m sure that will change as I work through this and the wood tells me what I can and can’t do.
I don’t hunk it is a good idea to turn some practice items before tackling this. I haven’t turned anything in a while. Need to resharpen my tool skills..


You can put a faceplate there, but how are you going to line up the axis so that a live center hits where you want it to be on the other side?
- Rink

Good question. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. I could probably get it fairly close by eyeballing it but I’d like to do better than that. I think having the flat area on the branch end will help. for turning something like this, should I look for a line through the center of the item or one that gives the best weight distribution? I assume they are not going to necessarily be the same line.

Thank you everyone for all the ideas and advice. It is greatly appreciated

-- George Pag

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7672 posts in 2829 days


#11 posted 01-26-2020 06:14 PM

Ask Jerry about his chuck plate – looks like a perfect application for it.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2542 posts in 2620 days


#12 posted 01-26-2020 07:35 PM

An option is to glue or screw a board to the base which would allow using a drive center to locate the base. Turn the board slightly concave and then mount to a faceplate. You will have “center” and a perpendicular surface to the CL you want in line with the top center, located where you want it. Could use a large board that becomes the vase bottom, or a sacrificial piece you remove at the end and square up the bottom best you can.

View Davevand's profile

Davevand

157 posts in 1467 days


#13 posted 01-26-2020 08:39 PM

I tried turning a lop-sided piece once and it about shook my lathe apart, not going to try that again. I have seen people mount a router shed to their lathe and I was thinking I would do that, mount the piece between centers and slowly turn the piece by hand while slowly lowering the router bit until it is round enough to start turning with the lathe

View George Pagliarulo's profile

George Pagliarulo

14 posts in 700 days


#14 posted 01-26-2020 09:50 PM


An option is to glue or screw a board to the base which would allow using a drive center to locate the base. Turn the board slightly concave and then mount to a faceplate. You will have “center” and a perpendicular surface to the CL you want in line with the top center, located where you want it. Could use a large board that becomes the vase bottom, or a sacrificial piece you remove at the end and square up the bottom best you can.

- OSU55

I’m not getting this. If I attached a board to the base it would be in the same plane as the base. How is that different then just attaching a faceplate?
Aha, I think I just got it. I read this as all one process to mount the workpiece. Rather than one step building on the other. After drilling the flat spot on the branch side I’ll have both ends flat. Do you mean attach the board to the bottom and then clamp it between the centers. Turn it by hand and adjust the placement of the centers until I have the best balance? Once that’s done then I can attach the work and board to a faceplate using the center points I found.
That sounds like a great idea.
Why make the faceplate side of the board concave? It will be flat so there will be good contact.
I’ll probably glue and screw the board to the work. I don’t trust just glue to hold it. Since the depth of the hole in the bottom limits how deep I can hollow the inside, that gives me plenty of room for screws

-- George Pag

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

1670 posts in 2361 days


#15 posted 01-26-2020 10:01 PM

George, true up each end so that each end is parallel to each other. Then find your center for the bottom. When found, lay the piece back down on the top you have it sitting on. The top set of pictures, bottom picture, at the 7 o’clock position, that should be laying on the surface. Align the centers using a board like OSU55 mentioned. Do the same for each end, and rough turn the OD with the branches at the headstock. If you’re using screws to hold it in place where you might want to make a tenon, place them on the inside of the tenon diameter of you jaws/chuck. When the piece is roughed to your satisfaction, turn it around and mount it into your chuck. Bring up your live center if you can for security, and start hogging out the innards.
Depending on how far apart the branches are, the Chuck plate is only 4 1/2” OD, and the screws are at 3 3/4” OD. In order for me to start that piece with my Chuck Plate, would need at least 3 screws making contact in order for me to feel secure.
I have an Italian Cypress stump a little larger than yours. One of these days, I’ll attempt to turn it, but my Chuck Plate won’t be able to handle it. The branches are to far apart to make center contact. I’ll have to make a larger one, or go with the boards on each end until I make a tenon for the chuck.

How big is your lathe, and what chucks do you have?? .......... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

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