Tri-coloured inlay bud vase

Author: Paul Ross
Published: October November 2004
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This vase, inlaid with three different types of material, makes this just a bit more challenging of a project.

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

Form the spigot

Drill holes for inlays

Drill hole for bud

Cut inlay pieces

Glue inlay into holes

Use tailstock for support

Make spigot for bud

Finish vase bottom



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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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