Making a vase part 1
Well I thought that a step by step process of how I make a hollow vessel might be useful, and for this project I have used a bit of Oak. This was going to be used as firewood, but was given to me about 3 to 4 years ago. When it started to dry out large cracks appeared, so I rough cut it on the band saw to the size you see 7 x 6 ½ inches.
When the piece is mounted on the lathe that is the time that the rough shape appears to me, but is changeable throughout the process as it depends on what you uncover. The approximate centre is marked with pencil for the photo only, as again it really depends on what you uncover. Then the shape starts to appear, it is important that the shape is pleasing to the eye and touch. Only 3 tools were used in this process, but they were sharpened constantly through out.
Once you are happy with the outside shape, I sand down and put a couple sealer coats on. Then it is turned on the lathe and made ready for the hollowing out. The first bit was done by a gouge on the lip. Then it was bored with a saw tooth cutter to the approximate depth, this is done for two reasons 1st it helps to prevent snags when hollowing and 2nd it makes life easier.
Then to the hollowing, on this I use two different hollowing tools 1st is a Big brother that has a 30 inch handle and an adaption that I put on and the 2nd is a BCT supercut.
I can not rate this tool highly enough, it is so safe and user friendly and never digs in yes never. I will give a separate review on this tool, as it is simply the best if anybody wants it.
Then to the fun of hollowing out, a combination of both tools was used and shallow cuts were made. You have to stop the lathe constantly to empty the shavings out or the tool stops cutting, and it gives you a chance to see where more needs to be removed. In my turnings I try to keep the wall thickness around 3/16 th of an inch, as this is a good feel factor and pleasing to the eye, too thick and most people think it is unfinished and to be honest I totally agree with this statement. Now that would have been the end of the process as far as turning it went, but as with all pieces you never know what is going to happen, and even for me the unexpected happens. Near the base when hollowing on last but one cut I hit a very soft patch and it went through the side. At this point like most of us the air was full of **** *** ******, but hey that is the fun of turning expecting the unexpected. So after a couple cups of coffee and a fag to calm down time to look at the damage and try and sort it, and 9 times out of 10 there is a solution that ends up without chucking it onto the fire.
The solution for this time was to fill the bottom part of the vase with two part plastic wood, this was left to dry over night to be completely dry. The following day it was sanded smooth and any imperfections were refilled until smooth, two coats of sanding sealer were applied followed by five coats of satin black car paint. Then came another change and first time for me, the whole of the inside was coated in a hot epoxy resin that I kept turning the vase for a uniform cover (this was done off the lathe).
The next process was to take care of the hole in the outside; again a lot of thought went into this. There were really two options fill the hole will epoxy and coal dust or make a feature out of it, so I decided to make a feature of it by making it a complete band. This was done by making a grove with a parting tool approximately 1/16 inch deep, this was the filled with epoxy and coal dust and left to dry. The outside and inner rim was then sanded up to 600 grit, and then sealed with 10 coats of cellulose sanding sealer with de nibbing with 0000 grade wire wool every 2 coats. The inside was also sanded up to 1200 grade, and then it was cleaned ready for its final coats.
The area around the lathe was also cleaned up making ready for spraying the final top coats.
The final coats are melamine cellulose, and 20 coats are applied again de nibbing every couple coats. Then the final rubbing down with 0000 wire wool, and polished up with burnishing cream and finally carnauba wax. Time spent on the finishing is as important as the turning process, as it will either make or break the final product.
Hopefully this gives an insight to the process that I take, there is never a right or wrong way as long as the piece ends up as you like it.