Introduction: Timber Bud Vase Aged by Burning (fence Post Alternative)

About: I am a 22 year old woodturner from Sydney. I have been wood turning for about 6.5 years and have completed my apprenticeship in cabinetmaking. I left my full time work to try and make it as a wood turner

I had to make some bud vases for a wedding. A fence post was the perfect look for what I needed but I only had one post which would only make half the vases I needed.

Using an angle grinder and a butane touch I could give a similar aged effect to the timber.

The pictures above show the final bud vases, burnt and fence post post and the timber blanks that I started with to get the similar look.

Step 1: Preparing the Timber

The fence post was spotted gum. I had some Tasmanian black wood which is slightly darker and a nicer looking timber. It is normally not suitable for turning as when its sanded, the heat easily cracks the timber. I chose to use this timber anyway because it adds to the rustic look of the fence post.

The blank from the fence post is not square so I cut my solid blanks to the same size (170mm x85mm x 65mm). To do this I just used my band saw. A table saw would be more suitable. The band saw left some saw marks but I chose not to sand them out, leaving it to add more character. On the other side I roughed it up with a wire brush, drill powered and by hand. There were bits of tear out but I also left theses too add to the character on the flat face.

Step 2: Burning the Groves

To make the groves I used an angle grinder. I know that this should not be used on timber because its not designed for this but it gave the perfect effect. I could have used a cutting bit in the grinder but I liked the burning effect and the shape the metal cut off wheel gave.

I started by making many small cuts and then got deeper in some sections. I kept it random so that there were not patterns and plenty of variety of depth. To get the depth I just applied more pressure and used repetitive strokes.

SAFETY - This creates lots of smoke which is not the greatest for you health. I set up a fan to direct most of it away from me. I also wore big goggles and a dust mask to prevent getting smoke directly in my eyes and lungs.

After using the grinder I dressed the wheel using and abrasive stone used to clean and true bench grinders.

Step 3: Charring the Rest of the Blank

To do this I used a butane torch. This burnt the areas missed by the grinder. The charring adds to the texture that was added with the wire brush and tear out.

To start the torch cover up the holes on the top of the torch as seen in the picture. Turn the gas on lightly and hold a lit match below. Let go of the tip and turn up the gas to get a good flame.

Lightly pass over the blank building it up heat and increase charring. You dont need to cover the entire blank as most will be turned away.

Step 4: Set Up

Mark centers - use a ruler and pencil to mark from corner to corner to find your center

Attach to lathe - knock in live center using a wooden mallet (not hammer, that damages the center)

Tool rest - Set up tool rest about 5mm from the corner. Give the timber a spin by hand to make sure it clears the rest

Step 5: Turning

1. Use a roughing gouge to start getting the blank round but dont go too far because a flat spot is needed. Roughly get it so the flat spot is about the same with as the round (pic 1,2)

2. Use a parting tool to create a tenon at the head stock end, lowing the tool into the timber. (pic 3)

3. Take the timber out of the lathe, put a 4 jaw chuck on and clamp that on to the tenon. Butt the tale stock up to the end again (pic 4)

4. Mark out key diameters. My finished vase height is 150mm, with the neck 30mm down from the top and 60mm down to the widest point. (pic 5)

5. Use a parting tool and calipers to size the bottom of the vase. I went to 35mm working on the chuck side of the line so it didnt interfere with the shape of the vase (pic 6)

6. Shape the bottom of the vase using a gouge. I have a very shallow gouge and by riding the bevel I got a nice clean cut. try to keep a slight bulge and no straight lines. Design wise it flows better. (pic 7)

7. Use a parting tool and calipers to size the neck diameter (pic 8)

8. Use a gouge to bring the diameter of the neck down. I did this till it was round with no flat spots. (pic 9)

9. Shape the mid section of the vase. I did this with a combination of a detail gouge to remove the bulk and then the skew chisel riding the bevel to give a nice clean cut (only do this cut with experience and practice) (pic 10)

10. Shape the neck using a detail gouge riding the bevel for a clean cut. Try to get a nice even curve. (pic 11)

11. Drill out the center using a drill bit. I have a long 12.5mm bit that I put in the jacobs chuck that connects to my tail stock so I could wind it in. This could be done by a drill if you dont have a jacobs chuck for the lathe. (pic 12)

12. Shape the inside of the vase using a detail gouge following the profile of the outside, giving an even wall thickness. (pic13)

Step 6: Sanding

I found it best to sand the mid section with a sander with the lathe off to reduce the thumping and rounding over that sanding with the lathe running. I sanded the rest of the vase like normal, progressing my way though the grits, having the sand paper running with the direction its spinning

Step 7: Final Steps

When its all sanded part it off using a parting tool. Slow the lathe right down before the final cut to make it easier to catch or cut it off with a saw if you are more comfortable doing that.

Sand away the little bits to make it flush. Use the flat spots to run on the table to get the bottom even.

Now its ready for polishing. I used lacquer for a durable finish. Its not fully water proof inside so dont put water in. This is suitable for flowers or even wheat which is what will be in these.

Enjoy and good luck

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