Turning A Leaf Vase: Part 2

Turning A Leaf Vase: Part 2

by Gord Langer

Turning A Leaf Vase: Part 2

In Part 1 of this project, I showed you how I turned four thin walled vases. At the end of the project I turned these vases to about 3/32" wall thickness and left a small nub on the bottom.  I left a larger wall thickness at the base as the objective is to be able to rechuck the piece but first need to take care of the small nub by removing it.

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You can use almost anything to remove the nub from the bottom of the turning.  Brian has a power carver that works very well.  In the past I have even used a standard woodworking chisel.   I now use a power tool that is similar to a Dremel tool and uses a small saw blade mounted on a shaft.  They are available wherever Dremel accessories are sold.

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The key is go slow and be careful regardless what method you use.  With this tool I slowly sawed the perimeter of the nub until all the way through.

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Once the nub has been removed, sand the bottom   so it is flat and looks good.  I have removed the nubs on all four vases at this point. 
 
In this newsletter I will show you how I finished two of the vessels shown above.
With the nub removed I remounted the piece between centers on my lathe using a chuck on the bottom and a cone center on the tailstock.  The tailstock is used very gently and is only to add a bit of support; it helped me center the piece on the chuck.  

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All of the vases were turned wet and while they were virtually dry once the initial turning was complete due to the thinness of the turning, I still let them dry a bit more.  Though I sanded them at the time of turning, I did some re-sanding once they were completely dry.  I sanded each to 220 grit inside and out.

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While still mounted on the lathe I used a pencil to draw some reference lines on the vase, using the  indexing feature of my lathe to help with this.  The vase will have four leaves so I wanted four equally spaced lines.  These four lines will be the reference for the tips of each leaf.  I then added another four lines to be the reference for the center space between each of the leaves.

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Here you can see the four tall lines along with the spacing lines described above.  I cut out a paper template to help draw the leaf pattern on the vase.
 
This can be done either while the piece is chucked on the lathe or on your workbench.
 
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Once I was happy with the leaf design I repositioned the piece on the lathe and used various stencils and a pencil to lay out the main vein of the leaf.
 
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Once the main vein was established I added the smaller cross veins.  I again used some commercial templates to help me lay out the leaf pattern.  Take your time here and don't be afraid to use your eraser to ensure you have a design that you are satisfied with.
 
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Once I was happy with the pattern layout, I pulled out my piercing kit.
 
This is one of our dental piercing kits which we find to be the most comfortable to use, especially for large piercing jobs. 
 
I have mounted mine in an old metal tool box designed for drills.   It works great for keeping everything together. 
 
As you can see here a regulator,  dental handpiece and tubing and oil connects to my air supply.  I usually set the regulator to about 38 pounds of pressure.
 
This is the ultimate tool kit for piercing your work. These pneumatic piercing systems are comfortable to use; the lightweight design and the 400,000 r.p.m. speed are ideal to embellish your work. The handpiece design allows for unwavering control of your cut. The carbide dental burs seem to last forever but when the need does arise, take only seconds to replace.  
 
The kit includes the handpiece kit, ball valve assembly, regulator, filter, hoses, handpiece oil, male and female quick connects and two carbide burs. 
 
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Now it's time to start the embellishment process.  It is important to note a couple of things before we move on. 
 
Good lighting and ventilation are important.  I use a small fan to blow the smoke away from where I am breathing.
 
Comfort is also very important.    I cannot stress enough that if you are sitting in an awkward position and are not comfortable, your embellishment will show it.  I even made a small support for my elbow. This ensures I am holding the handpiece at the correct angle and working with ease.   
 
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Along with comfort, good vision is very important.  I use these headband magnifiers from Telesight Magnifiers www.telesightmagnifiers.com to enlarge the area being pierced.
 
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Once set up it's time to start the piercing process.  Using my thumb as an anchor point, I insert the bur and start piercing the vessel.  Providing the piece has been turned to a thin wall thickness, say 3/32", the piercing progresses quite quickly.  Just remember to let the bur do the cutting and not to push through the cut.  It's a good idea to go over each cut twice to get a smooth hole. 
 
Strive for  a consistent thickness between holes, while trying to be totally random, and keep the bur close to 90 degrees to the vase for each cutout.
 
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I started piercing from the bottom and worked through each section.  As I finished each section, I took a moment to sand away any fuzz left from the cutter and erase the pencil marks where necessary.  I also used a power eraser (available from any art supply store) to ensure all the pencil marks were removed.
 
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Working my way up from bottom to top, I repeated the procedure described above for each section.
 
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Once the piercing was done on all four leaves I did a bit more touch up sanding to ensure I was happy with the final result.
 
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nce the leaf piercing is done it's time to start cutting out the center scalloped edges of each leaf.
 
As the space between each leaf is waste, start each cut from the waste side and then follow your layout lines.
 
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It is important to maintain structure so be sure not to cut out all the scalloped pieces.  Leave little "tabs" which will be removed once each scalloped piece is cut out with the exception of the little tabs.
 
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Once the scalloped edges are all cut and you are ready to remove the center sections separating each leaf, you can cut out the tabs. 
Working on each center section one at a time I cut the little tabs and removed the scalloped section.
 
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Working around each leaf I removed each of the scalloped pieces.
 
I then did a little more touch up sanding and took a close look at each leaf to ensure I was happy with everything.
 
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With the piercing completed I set up my paint station. 
 
I used an airbrush to paint the interior of the leaf vase.
 
Just about any airbrush will do the job for this process as this is not detailed airbrush work.
 
I also use a large fan with a furnace filter strapped to the intake side to take away the paint overspray.
 
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I used an iridescent blue/green paint and started spraying the bottom of the vase.
 
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Working through the long openings I worked from the bottom up, painting the inside of each leaf ensuring an even, consistent covering of paint.   This may take a few passes with the airbrush.
 
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Once the airbrushing was complete, I examined the piece closely and gently re-sanded where necessary to ensure there was no paint where there shouldn't have been.  Once I was happy with the piece it was time to lacquer.
I use Deft semi-gloss lacquer for the final finish.  I applied several coats before giving the piece a final light sanding with 500 grit sandpaper. 
 
At this point I gave the piece another few coats of lacquer which produced a silky smooth final finish.
 
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Here you see the completed pieces.  I hope Brian agrees that I did his leaf vase justice. 
 
This is a fun project that I hope you will try.
 
In Part Three of this series I will embellish and finish the final two pieces of the four vases I turned in Part One. Stay tuned!
 
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by Gord Langer