Colorful Segmented Wooden Vase





Introduction: Colorful Segmented Wooden Vase

About: Grady Hillhouse is a professional civil engineer and hobbyist everything else.

My wife and I made these vases for Mother's Day, but they are a perfect gift for any occasion. If you are new to woodturning, this is a good chance to try out a segmented piece. The woods we used were cherry, a small piece of walnut for the rim, and SpectraPly for the feature ring to give them a splash of color.

There's a YouTube video linked above if you need more details about how the vases went together. I'm happy to answer any questions you have in the comments.

Step 1: Create the Rings

Each "layer" of the vase is created by four wooden trapezoids glued together into a hollow square. My trapezoids were about 3"-4" on the long side and about 1" wide. You can cut these out using your table saw or a miter saw. Use a stop-block to make sure that all your pieces are the same length.

The pieces can be glued into rings using band clamps or even rubber bands. This takes a long time!

Step 2: Glue the Layers Together

Once you have all your squares, sand the top and bottom faces smooth. Then you can glue the layers on top of each other. Make sure you alternate the direction of the layers so that the glue joints don't line up. Also, don't glue all the layers at once. You only want half of the vase glued up so that you can hollow out the inside. We will glue the halves together later.

Step 3: Turn the Halves Round and Hollow

Put each half of the vase on the lathe separately. Knock down the outside corners to get them round. You can also use a forstner bit at this time to hollow out the halves.

Step 4: Glue the Halves Together

I glued the two halves together right on the lathe. The tailstock provides the clamping pressure while the glue cures.

Step 5: Final Turning and Finishing

Once the two halves are glued together, you can do the final turning down to a shape you like. You can also drill out the top if you haven't already. We finished our vases using Captain Eddy's Friction Polish, which I think came out looking very nice.

Note: These vases are for dry flowers only. You could possibly epoxy-coat the insides to be water safe, but I have never tried that. I recommend testing it out on scraps before filling your work with water.

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    16 Discussions

    I love this design idea, and even though I'm an expert woodturner, the simplicity is very appealing. We all like projects that can be completed quickly. You also take quite a bit of mystery out of segmented turning, which in itself is a fabulous art form. As new turners, however, I feel I must caution you about a coupe of safety issues. First, ALWAYS wear adequate face/eye protection. Regular glasses do it, and that accident your wife had with the piece breaking apart could have let to a VERY serious facial injury or worse. Full face shields are not that expensive and should be used whenever roughing out a piece, especially segmented ones. Second, please be extra careful when wearing gloves of any kind while woodturning. It only takes a second, and an almost invisible splinter of wood can pull your hand into and be grabbed by the wood. A terrible injury can easily occur. I recommend never using gloves while anywhere near a lathe.

    Otherwise, a very enjoyable video and project. Keep it up!

    2 replies

    John, if you look closely you'll see that my wife is wearing a full face shield when the accident happened (as we always do while working in the "line of fire"). I'm also comfortable with the risk of wearing nitrile gloves while finishing a project on the lathe. I always reduce the belt tension so the project can slip if anything catches. Thanks for the concern.

    Oops! I should have proofed my own comment and post. I meant to write "...Regular glasses DON'T do it,..." Always wear a full face shield for this process!

    From lumps of wood, swans! IMHO, "came out looking very nice", is an understatement. They are art.

    1 reply

    From another wood turning enthusiast, great work. Use hot beeswax to coat the inside if you want to put water into it. Seals it pretty good and protects the wood from moisture.

    These look amazing! The video was a great add.

    I watched your video and enjoyed it, love your vase, I'm a mom and I would love this gift. I wont be making this because I don't use a lathe , but my husband and I have done woodwork together for years and hope you and your wife will too. Thank you for sharing

    what is the blue material? Also can you post the dimensions of the plans you had originally made? Thanks!

    Oohhhh...I must give this a go!

    The natural patterns of the wood look amazing like that. Great job!

    Awesome! These are beautiful.

    Beautiful work, the colored ply really looks great here.

    I've used test-tubes inside smaller wooden vases to make them water-safe.

    It might be interesting to try fitting a 1 liter soda bottle inside when gluing the two halves together. Hollowing the neck of the vase to fit the bottle neck might be difficult.

    Wow! The vases are really, really gorgeous!!