Segmented Cherry Urns




Introduction: Segmented Cherry Urns

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ...

This urn was turned from cherry and purpleheart (finished with tung oil) for my grandfather who just died at the age of 94. He just now started slowing down and just left the world peacefully which was fitting for such a empathetic, persevering, and influential man. He's one of the hardest working people I was lucky enough to know. For my entire life he has been "retired" and by that I mean he was retired but still worked part time well into his 80s! This is my first ever turned vessel, 135 peaces. My grandmother wanted one too so I made a matching one for her to use in the distant future.


- Cherry lumber

- Purpleheart lumber

- Wood glue

- Tung oil finish

Notable tools:

- Miterset angle setting jig

- Fence clamps

- Hose clamps

- Glue brush & tray

- Lathe chuck, Jumbo jaws, #3 jaws, #1 jaws

- Scribing compass

- F style clamps

- Glu-bot glue bottle

- Spring clamps

- Carbide lathe tools

- Double stick tape

- Hearing protection

- Face shield

- Thickness planer

- Table saw

Step 1: Planning & Rough Sizing Materials

I start off with some rough sawn rustic cherry and run it through the planer to thickness it until each face is smooth (down to about 7/8").

The board is ripped down into strips that are 1.5" wide on the table saw.

I do the same with some purpleheart for a few accent rings within the urn.

Step 2: Segments & 1st Glue-Up

For cutting out the segments I use the miter gauge and set it at the right angle. For this I did 12 segments per ring which works out to 15 degrees, but I used this new jig I got called the miter set which gets your miter gauge to the perfect angle, I love this little thing -- check it out here:

I start by cutting out 12 segments from the cherry for a test ring.

To clamp these together I use a couple of hose clamps. First I dry fit and the segments fit tight so I proceed to cut the rest of them.

I plan out the length of the segments and cut 12 of them for each ring with a couple of accent rings from the purpleheart.

All of the rings are then glued together. I use a glue brush to apply glue and then clamp them tight by screwing the hose clamps tight then set them to dry for the night.

Step 3: Smoothing & Cutting Plugs

Once dried, I pull the clamps off the rings and mount them in the lathe to take most of the roughness and glue squeeze out off the rings.

I use a straight edge to make sure the rings are flat while I smooth them out.

Then the surface of the rings are brought down finally using a sanding disk attached to a piece of melamine which keeps it flat.

To cap the urn I'm going to add a plug to the bottom of it using a solid piece of purpleheart with pine on the inside. I use a compass to draw these out and cut them to size on the bandsaw.

Step 4: 2nd Glue-Up

The rings are then all ready to be glued together. I apply glue to each ring and then stack them together half of the urn at a time (to help me with the hollowing process later).

Each of these half urns are clamped together with some bar clamps and set to dry for the night.

For the plug I cut out a scrap of pine which will sit inside the bottom of the urn, holding the purpleheart piece in place. These two pieces are glued and clamped together.

Step 5: Fitting Plug & Outside Shaping

Once the 2nd glue-up is dry, I mount the bottom halves in the lathe to shape.

I start by shaping the bottom hole where the plug will fit.

The plug is then shaped down to until it fits inside the bottom of the urn.

Now that I can pin the urn between centers on the lathe I temporarily attach the two halves of each urn together using double sided tape.

The shavings start flying now! The outside is brought down round and to rough shape.

Step 6: Splitting the Halves, Hollowing, & 3rd Glue-Up

With this cut down to shape I can pop the two halves apart to complete the hollowing process.

Each of the halves is mounted in the lathe and hollowed until I achieve about a 3/4" wall thickness.

These halves are then sanded smooth to prepare them for the final glue-up.

The 2 halves of the urns are glued and clamped together in the final glue-up.

Step 7: Plugging the Top

While that's set to dry I turn some dowels from purpleheart that I'll use to plug the center of the top of the urn for decoration and to seal off the center of that ring since the segments don't quite reach to the center.

I use a forstner bit to bore out the center of this piece.

Then the dowels are glued and hit into place with a hammer, then cut and sanded flush.

Step 8: Final Shaping, Detailing, & Sanding

I then mount the urns back in the lathe for final shaping by mounting it from the hole in the bottom. The cherry cuts so nice, lots of curlicues flying around!

For a bit more shape and accent to the top I decide to add some rings. I use my calipers to to scrape a bunch of even lines in the top, then trace those with a pencil to better define them.

I use a detail tool to carve out the rings in the top.

Then I sand through the grits down to 220.

Step 9: Finishing

Now it's time for the best part and the reveal! I use tung oil finish to protect these. It brings out the depth of the grain while also adding a slight shine.

After the 1st coat it already looks amazing.

I then flip the urns around in the jaws and fine-tune the shape of the bottom, sand it, and apply finish.

I add a couple more coats of tung oil to bring out the color and the grain even further.

Step 10: Glamour Shots

Glamour shots! After just a few days you can already see the color coming out in the cherry and purpleheart. Once his ashes were put into the urns, the bottom plug was installed and sealed tight with epoxy. I think my grandmother hid hers away in the closet for now :)

Glad the cat lives with us and not my grandmother, these wouldn't stay on that table for very long!

Photos taken in Shelburne Falls, MA.

Be sure to check out the build video for the full experience!

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Loved this build. Great job Paul. I lost my best friend years ago and he's never gotten a proper urn. This encourages me to turn one. Thanks for another enjoyable build and sharing a very intimate part of your life.


    3 years ago

    So good, Jackman.