Miniture turned boxes

I have been making a bunch of turned boxes lately and I have developed a process that is simple and effective.  I thought it would makes sense to document how to make a small turned wooden box both for myself and for others.

Step 1: You don’t need a very large branch for these boxes which is nice because small trees are easier to find.  I round up the branch and mark off where the different sections of the box will be.  I leave a section to hold onto on both ends of the lid and the body.

Step 2: Reduce the 4 tenons close to the size of the chuck that you are using.  A better fit mean less of a chance to leave chuck marks in the wood.  I part the lid almost completly from the body leaving a thin section.  I do this so that the two pieces don’t go flying off the lathe and hit me or the wall.

Step 3: I always start with the lid because for me it is easier to fit a finished lid to an in progress body.  I start by putting what will end up being the top of the lid in the chuck.  This allows me to shape the under side of the lid and make it look pretty.

Step 4: After the shape is finalized I go through a 6 step process to get the finish that I like.  I start with a 120 grit sandpaper and finish with a 240 grit. I try to leave the surface as smooth as I can with the metal tools so sanding meerly does the final blending and perfects the contours.  From there I burnish the surface with the wood shavings that I just turned off.  By pressing the shavings against the spinning wood’s surface it gives it a nice shine beyond what sandpaper can do.  I then move on to the friction shelac.  This is my favorite finish right now because it is easy to use, doesn’t smell bad and results in a natural looking shine.  I start by putting a little bit of shelac on a tooth brush and rup it all over the bottom of the lid while it is spinning; this helps get a thin even coating on all the details large and small.  I then use a piece of cloth that I have using for a long time to press against the wood to heat it up and work it into the wood.  Finally I use an old cotton t shirt to buff and polish the finish and remove any extra shelac that may be sticking around.  I use this same process to apply a finish to all the box surfaces.

Step 5: Flip the lid over and hold onto the tenon that was just finished and shape the top of the lid.

Step 6: Place the body of the box into the chuck with the top tenon in the chuck first.  Shape the bottom of the bos in the same fashion that the bottom of the lid was finished with.

Step 7: The outside of the box has now been finished and polished.  I decided to add some details to the body so that is would match the lid better.

Step 8: Flip the box body around and turn a small cone in the center of where the mouth will be.  This will help the drill bit stay centered.  I use a 1/2″ drill bit to start the hollowing process and help determine the proper depth that I want to go to.

Step 9: I begin to hollow out the box but stop before I reach the final ID that will be needed.  I use the tenon on the lid to mark how large of an opening I will need when I am finished.  I enlarge the opening to just below where the lid can be pushed on.  I then hollow out the rest of the box down to the bottom of my drilled hole.  During sanding I enlarge the opening to create a predictable snug fit for the lid.

Step 10:  Put the lid on the body and admire your new bowl.

Thank you for taking a look at my tutorial and I hope you enjoyed it.