Tri-Coloured Inlay Bud Vase - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Turning Project


Tri-Coloured Inlay Bud Vase

This vase, inlaid with three different types of material, makes this just a bit more challenging of a project. The choice of woods to inlay is up to you. It's a great way of using up some of those small cut off pieces that are just too nice to discard.
Turn the Cylinder
The main body of the vase is turned from a piece of oak, approximately 4" x 4" x 6". Rough out the cylinder between centers using a 1 1/4" roughing out gouge. When the piece is square, approach the wood with the flute of the gouge in an upward position. Take light cuts until you have removed the corners.

Then turn the gouge on either side, with the flute trailing the cut. Doing so presents more metal to the wood, which produces a smoother cut. When the corners of the wood are removed, you will have less resistance from the wood. Do the bulk of your shaping with the roughing out gouge. Use a 1/2" spindle gouge for finer work. Always cut downhill, or from large diameter to small.

Turn the cylinder
Create the Spigot
Once you have a cylinder, square the ends off with a 1/8" parting tool. Then create a spigot with a 3/8" parting tool. The spigot enables a chuck to grab on to the bottom of the piece.

Form the spigot
Drill Holes for Inlays
I used three different materials for the inlay: African Blackwood, Padauk, and Corian. I used two inlays of each material; each set of material a different diameter. The Blackwood was 3/4"; Padauk was 1/2", and the Corian 1/4". Make a swirling effect on the outside of the vase by drawing three horizontal lines, parallel to each other. Divide the circumference of the vase by 6 (i.e. the number of inlay pieces). I used the indexing head on my lathe to determine where the inlays were to be positioned.

Drill holes for inlays
My indexing head has 48 positions. Dividing by 6, this gives 8 positions for the inlays. I drilled a 3/4" hole on the bottom line, on position 8 of the indexing head, to accommodate the Blackwood. Then I moved the indexing head 8 positions to number 16 and drilled a 1/2" hole on the next line for the Padauk. Next I moved the indexing head 8 positions to number 24 and drilled a 1/4" hole on the third line for the Corian. Moving the indexing head another 8 positions to number 32, I moved back to the first line and drilled a 3/4" hole for the Blackwood. Again, I moved the indexing head 8 positions to number 40 and drilled a 1/2" hole for the Padauk. Finally, moving the indexing head another 8 positions to number 48, I drilled a 1/4" hole on the third line for the Corian. Drill your holes approximately 1/4" deep.
Drill Hole for the Bud
With that complete, take the piece from between the centers and place a Stronghold Chuck on the lathe. Use the tailstock to line up the piece 'dead' centre. Mount it in the chuck. With a Jacobs chuck and 1" saw tooth bit in the tailstock, drill out the hole for the bud vase.

Drill hole for bud
Cut Inlay Pieces
The next step is to cut the inlay pieces the diameter of the holes. Use a skew chisel, which gives a super fine cut, takes very little at a time, and makes the fit for the hole absolutely perfect.

Cut inlay pieces
Glue inlay into holes
Glue Inlay into Holes
Glue the pieces of material into the holes. 

Use Tailstock for Support
After the glue has dried, cut the excess material off using a little handsaw. Mount the piece back into the chuck and use the tailstock for support.

Use tailstock for support
The cone centre or live centre will fit nicely into the 1" hole. Remember when you are cutting the inlay you will be cutting end grain; take light cuts with a sharp spindle gouge. There is 1/4" material in the inlay so there is the potential to slightly alter the shape of the body.

Once you have done the final shaping of the vase remove the tailstock and clean this end with the toe of a skew. Sand the piece and finish. Melamine is an ideal finish because it is water and heat resistant.
Make Spigot for Bud
Now we turn our attention to the bottom of the vase. Make a spigot that the bud vase is slipped onto. Use the tailstock for support and a 3/8" bowl gouge.

Make spigot for bud
Finish Base Bottom
When the bottom is complete, remove the tailstock to finish the last little bit on the bottom. Sand and finish the bottom.

Finish vase bottom

Paul Ross
(613) 393-1795

Related Articles

Make a Simple Box with Inlay Using Hand Tools

Hand Tool Project: Many of the techniques used to make this box could be completed with machinery, but since this box was designed to teach people some basic hand tool skills, that will be the focus of this article.

Ebony Inlay Cherry Box

Inlay Project: I designed this cherry box with an ebony inlay for a beginner’s woodworking class that I teach. It is pleasing in proportion, colour and shape, and satisfying to build.

Inlay and Banding

Decorative Technique