Weekend Projects - Carved Hollow Form archive

Friday 26 June 2015

Nick Arnull creates this small hollow form and decorates the outside surface using a range of power carving techniques


I have often considered using similar techniques on a hollow form, and this is what I will be making this month. I will add an inset neck and paint the top and foot black to give the piece balance and lift. This also allows the carved area to be contained between the two elements. Adding an inset neck is a method I use a great deal when turning small vessels, as it is easier to remove the debris from the inside through a larger opening. This is then reduced with the addition of an added neck. This has the advantage of stopping people from putting their fingers inside the piece; this is something that almost all turners seem to want to do. The disadvantage is that some seem to see it as a lid; even though it has a hole in its centre they try to remove it!

Tools used:

Small swan-neck end grain hollowing tool

Straight or slightly offset hollowing tool

6mm parting tool

10mm Skewchigouge or small round-nosed scraper

10mm spindle gouge

10mm long-grind bowl gouge

32mm spindle roughing gouge

Acrylic sanding sealer

Matt black acrylic spray paint

Acrylic satin lacquer


Begin by centring and mounting your blank between centres and making round using a 32mm spindle roughing gouge, then use a 6mm parting tool to create a spigot at one end to fit into your chuck


Attach your chuck and mount the blank, then drill a 25mm hole to the required depth using a 25mm sawtooth bit mounted in a Jacobs chuck held in the tailstock


Using a 10mm long-grind bowl gouge, roughly shape the outside of the vessel. Leave a flat area at the top measuring approximately 60mm in diameter; this will create the glue joint for the added neck


Refine the outside shape using a 10mm spindle gouge


Remove the centre of the vessel with an end grain hollowing tool. I use a Kelton hollower for removing the bulk of the waste and then refine the interior with a mini Rolly Munro hollowing tool


Measure the wall thickness frequently as work progresses. When turning a vessel that will be carved you should aim for an even wall thickness of around 10mm

Creating and fitting the neck of the vessel


Centre and mount the blank between centres, make round using a 10mm long-grind bowl gouge, then create a spigot at one end that fits tightly into the opening at the top of the vessel. At the other end create a spigot to fit into your chuck


Mount the blank into the chuck, dish the centre slightly and drill a 10mm hole through the blank, taking care not to drill into the chuck


The next step is to remount the vessel and glue the prepared blank into the top, taking care to align the grain. Use the tailstock to apply pressure and aid with centring. Allow to dry


Next, with the tailstock in place for added support shape the neck and refine the outside details of the vessel. Take care to place the glue joint at the position which indicates the change in direction from the vessel to the neck


At this stage, it may be necessary to refine the top curve of the vessel once the top is added; this is best done with a freshly sharpened 10mm spindle gouge


Once the outside of the vessel is complete, remove the tailstock and refine the inside of the neck. Take care at this stage as there may be a tendency for chatter if the cut is too aggressive


Refine the opening with a small swan neck hollowing tool; this will make the opening look more natural. At this stage you can sand the piece to a good standard


With the sanding complete use a scrap wood tapered chuck mounted in the chuck and reverse the vessel onto the taper. Centre with the tailstock and define the foot, leaving a shoulder to allow the vessel to be remounted in the chuck; this will allow the piece to be worked more easily when marking out and carving the vessel


With the toolrest set at exact centre height, use the indexing head to divide the piece by 24 and mark around the top using a soft pencil. This marking needs to be continued down the piece


Further divide the piece along its length into eight marking around the circumference of the vessel; this will create squares. Mark diagonally across the squares to create the spiral, and continue until all the spirals are marked. Take care at this stage as any error will show when the piece is carved


Lock the spindle and carve the spirals around the piece - I used a reciprocating power carver. Starting at the tailstock and working towards the headstock, rotate the vessel as required while maintaining the best access


Once all the carving is complete the piece may need some fine tuning; this is best done with a diamond or ruby burr fitted into a rotary handpiece to even out any discrepancies that may have occurred during the carving stages


Once the carving is complete the foot needs to be finished. Place on the scrap wood tapered chuck and trap it between centres, then remove the waste timber at the foot. Sand the bottom of the foot with a sanding arbor held in a Jacobs chuck mounted into the headstock. Take care as it is all too easy to create too much heat. With the sanding complete it is now time to apply a coat of acrylic sanding sealer from a spray can. Allow to dry then denib with artificial wire wool


To add black to the neck and the foot mask the vessel with painter's tape and spray with matt black acrylic spray paint. Allow to dry before removing the masking tape and seal the entire piece with acrylic satin lacquer. Multiple light coats are always best; this will avoid runs and uneven coverage


The carved squat hollow form is now complete

Briony Darnley

Tagged In:

Nick Arnull , weekend project

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Handy Hints

1. When carving on a form such as this one you need to sharpen the tool regularly
2. When making finishing cuts always use a freshly sharpened tool
3. Keep designs simple to create maximum impact
4. Inspect all areas before applying a final finish
5. Add an inset neck to reduce the opening
6. Use contrasting timbers for accents on a piece. For example, the neck and foot could have been added using African blackwood
7. Consider access with power tools if you are creating a project like this. If the twist was marked in the other direction then it would have been difficult to carve on the lathe
8. Do not be afraid to make use of multiple chucking methods
9. When marking parallel lines use a collar fitted to the toolpost to set the height
10. If working through a small opening then remove shavings and debris from the vessel with compressed air
11. A good tip is to use a watercolour pencil to avoid marking the timber
12. It is important to take regular breaks when carving - this will avoid fatigue setting in
13. Always make sure your work area has a good source of light
14. Make sure there is sufficient access when you are carving between centres with power tools
15. Try working at a smaller scale; this will allow the marks being made to fit the form you are making
16. Retain decorated areas by creating boundaries

Diagrams Click an image to enlarge

Health & Safety

1. Protect your eyes and lungs at all times, and work at a speed that allows you to feel both comfortable and safe
2. Always reduce lathe rotation speed when using alternative chucking methods that you are not familiar with
3. Keep the toolrest between your hand and the work - NEVER let your fingers cross over to the other side
4. Protect yourself from dust when using rotary carving tools