Making a turned wooden box

A while back I had been trying out a few different shapes and forms and had made a few boxes just to try them out.  Well I have had a few people really like them and have made several more.  This is the story of one bowl that I did a custom order for.  I was given the general dimension that were desired and the general shape as well.  First I had to choose my wood to work with.  The wood started out a bit oval so I split of the extra wood to make it easier to spin on the lathe.

This wood is always interesting to work with because I never really know what secrets the wood may hold.  It has a great grain pattern and is spalted from being out in the forest for a few years.  What makes is really interesting is the soft spots in the wood where it has started to decay more than I would like.  You have to stay on your toes so you don’t try to do any detail on top of a soft spot.  Once I had turned it round I just marked out how big I wanted the main body to be and how tall the cap should be.

Skipping forward a few steps I have already parted the body from the top and shaped the exterior of the boxes body.  I decided to finish the foot of the box before hollowing it out.  One advantage to this is that I can clamp tighter and not have to worry about cracking the mouth of the bowl.  I sized the foot of the box to closely fit my chuck so I didn’t have to worry about leaving chuck marks in the wood.

The nice thing about making the body first is that I can make the mouth of the box what ever size works best.  When I shape the top I will have to be more carefull about the size the lip that hold the top on.

This is the shape of the top that I ended up with.  While turning it I had an issue with it flying off the lathe and getting dented, I hate it when that happens!  There was no way for me to hold onto the finial of the top so I had to get creative in chucking the lid.  What I came up with is the wooden piece shown next to it.  I drilled a piece of wood deep enough to fit the finial and then tapered it out to touch the rounded portion of the lid. Once it was remounted the lid looked like this.  One of things that I think is great about wood-turning is that you can make your own fixtures on the fly cheaply and easily.  When I read article from professionals they are constantly making throw away jigs to fit a custom shape.  I was really thankful because if I hadn’t been able to remount the lid I would have had to start over again with and fresh log.  In the end the lid looked good as new and person that had requested it loved it.  This is the finished product!

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