Monday 9 July 2018
In this project I wanted to make a footed incense bowl with handles, which is based on a traditional Eastern temple urn. Traditionally, these urns are made of metal or ceramic of various forms, simple or elaborate in design, and are then filled with sand into which the incense sticks are placed for burning.
As this project is made in wood, a brass candle cup has been used as a fire precaution. The cup was purchased from a woodturning supplies company. This places a non-flammable layer between the embers and the wooden bowl, with sand being used to fill the central section, so that the incense sticks can be held in position. Alternatively, you could fabricate a similar metal holder or use a small glass jar, altering the internal profile of the urn to suit.
As with any flammable item, be it a candle, incense stick or cone, it should never be left unattended, must be kept away from drafts, other flammable materials, and out of the reach of children and pets. Always make sure the incense stick is fully extinguished before leaving it unattended.
The wood for this project was obtained from a reclaimed table column. If you prefer, any 100 x 100mm (4 x 4in) close/end grain blanks can be used with the grain running in line with the axis of the lathe. The bowl was textured using small burrs in a rotary carver after which colour was added with spirit stains and verdigris wax to give the appearance of aged metal.
Tools used: 32mm (1 1/2in) spindle roughing gouge, 10mm (3/8in) bowl gouge, 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, 6mm (1/4in) spindle gouge, 6mm (1/4in) parting tool, 25mm (1in) square-end scraper and 3mm (1/8in) parting tool
Mount the blank between centres and bring to the round using a 32mm (1 1/4in) bowl gouge. Using a 6mm (1/4in) parting tool, clean up the face and produce a spigot to suit your chuck jaws. Refine the spigot profile with a skew chisel held horizontal on the lathe in trailing mode, if required. Using a 10mm (3/8in) bowl gouge, produce the outside profile working from outside diameter towards the tailcentre. Leave some waste material for clearing up later, which gives room at the base of the bowl when it is reversed for refining. Refine the outside, if required, using a square-end scraper. Make sure the tip is trailing. Once done, reverse into the chuck and clean up the front face using a 10mm (3/8in) bowl gouge. Using a pencil, mark the dimensions on the outside for the rim, groove and the dimensions on the front face – these will take the candle cup and the recess adjacent to the rim
Drill out the centre using a Forstner bit to suit the diameter of the candle cup – in this instance, 25mm (1in). Drill deep enough to accept the cup – it needs to sit 2-3mm (5/64-1/8) below the surface – here I drilled to a depth of 45mm (1 3/4in). Mark this on the drill using a permanent marker. Using a 6mm (1/4in) parting tool, produce the groove below the rim to a depth of 3-5mm (1/8-5/16in)
Using a 6mm (1/4in) parting tool, part in to the front face to produce the groove between the marked lines. Also part in on the waste side to the diameter line marked for the candle cup. Aim to produce this groove to a depth of twice the thickness of the rim of the cup so that it will sit slightly under the surface when fixed in place
Using a 6mm (1/4in) spindle gouge, open out from the drilled hole to the groove previously produced. Aim to replicate the profile for the underside of the candle cup you are incorporating
Check the profile regularly by offering the cup into the hole. Refine until a good fit is achieved
You can now remove the cup. Using a 6mm (1/4in) spindle gouge, radius the edges to radius the rim and detail on the front face. Produce beads, but only by removing the corners of the detail. Finish the profile, groove and front face by hand with abrasive down to 240 grit
The next step is to reverse the blank onto a friction drive made from waste wood. Using a 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, refine the base, blend the profile and remove the waste to a safe distance from the tailcentre
Using a pencil, mark a line approximately one-third up from the base with the lathe rotating slowly. This will be the registration mark later used to locate the feet of the incense holder. Using the lathe indexing system, mark three equidistant lines horizontally around the circumference of the previous marked line – in this case, every eight positions on the 24-position indexing system. If you do not have indexing then a set of protractors can be used instead
As before, blend the base with abrasive and cut the remaining waste away using a fine saw blade. Blend the cut area by hand using 240 grit abrasive
You can now place the second blank between centres and rough down to the round. As before, clean up the front face to a diameter of 90mm (3 1/2in). Mark the height of the feet on the outside and the internal measurement/thickness of the feet. Drill a hole into the side using a 30mm (1 1/8in) Forstner bit with the centre below the rim so that the hole is offset with the larger portion being in the wood. Drill deeper than the line drawn on the front face of the blank. This is a view hole and will allow you to match the internal profile of the feet to the base of the bowl
Using a 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, produce the external profile of the feet with the top of the feet being located at the front face of the blank
Using a 25mm (1in) round-nosed scraper, take fine cuts – with a trailing tip due to the hole drilled – and replicate the profile of the underside of the bowl. This will be the area of the feet that will eventually be fixed to the bowl
Check the profile of the project regularly by offering up the bowl and looking through the sight hole previously drilled. You need to continue doing this until the profiles match exactly
Using a 10mm (3/8in) spindle gouge, produce the inside profile of the feet. Deepen and open out the hole as you progress. Leave approximately 10mm (3/8in) thickness at the glue joint area previously profiled using the round-nosed scraper. Alternatively, to produce the internal profile, a small hollowing tool can be used instead of a gouge
Using a 3mm (1/8in) parting tool, part in at the bottom of the feet, to a depth slightly short of breaking through. This can be checked by marking the thickness on the tool with a marker pen. Keep the lathe speed to around 300rpm for this step
Mark three sections around the profiled hoop for the width of the feet. Using a bandsaw, partly cut through the lines, leaving a small amount of material in place. Repeat this for the remaining feet. Once complete, the feet can be gently snapped apart. Ensure to follow correct precautions when using the bandsaw. Alternatively, cut the feet out using a hand saw
Remove the side profile of the feet by drawing your design in marker pen on the front. Cut away either side using a scroll saw, or by hand using a coping saw
Refine the profile of the feet using a rotary carver, files and abrasive down to 240 grit. If using a rotary carver, hold the feet in a small clamp for safety. Due to the size of the burr, here I used a clamp for safety reasons
Produce the toes of the feet by simply filing the detail into the surface with fine files. Finish by hand with abrasive down to 240 grit
Using a fine 1mm tapered burr, texture the front and sides of the feet, excluding the toes. Again, you can use a clamp to hold the foot, if you prefer
Using the previous guidelines marked, place the feet individually in position and draw around the join area with a pencil, repeating for each foot. Using a rotary carver, texture the main section of the bowl up to, but not including, the groove. Here I am using a 3mm (1/8in) tapered bit. Texture slightly over the join lines but leave a good area for the glue to adhere to. Once complete, texture the groove and recess on the top face with the same bit used to texture the feet. This will tie all the parts in together. When finished, clean out the detail using a small bronze brush
Using medium viscosity CA adhesive, line up and glue the feet in place, hold until the glue takes and leave until fully dry. The lines previously marked will give the centre position of each foot
Prepare two pieces of wood approximately 8mm (5/16in) thick, 50mm (2in) x 80mm (3 1/8in) and glue them together using PVA adhesive with a piece of paper sandwiched in the middle. Cut the pieces out on a bandsaw and finish the faces on a sander. Draw the profile of the handles onto one face making sure the part that is to join the bowl is the same height as the groove in the bowl rim, then you can cut to shape
Refine the profile using abrasive. Check for a good fit into the groove. Once complete, split the two pieces apart using a fine blade and sand the faces down to 240 grit. Texture the handles with the same burr used for the feet. Once complete, brush the detail with a small bronze brush. Turn a waste piece of wood to the same diameter as the groove that the handles will fit into. Use CA to stick 240 grit abrasive around the outside of this. Set the toolrest on centre height, set lathe speed to 200rpm and gently reproduce the radius of the groove onto the section of the handle that will fit into the groove
Mark the central axis of the bowl section though the centre with one foot facing forward with the axis of the handles running perpendicular to this. Mark the centre of the joint/face of the handle and drill a small hole into the face to a depth of around 5mm (3/16in), using a small drill in a rotary carver. Cut a panel pin to around 10mm (3/8in) long, remove the head and glue into the hole using CA. Once dry, line up handle and pin with the line marked on the groove and push in gently to make an indent, then drill a second hole to fit the pin in the groove. Apply CA and join the parts together, and hold in position until secure
Apply a base colour using spirit stains. I mixed red with a small amount of black to make a deep burgundy, but you can experiment. Cover the whole bowl with the stain, using a brush to make sure all the detail is filled. Allow to dry
Once fully dry, apply verdigris wax all over the bowl using an old toothbrush, making sure the texture is filled. Use a cotton cloth to remove the wax from the surface only. Remove as much or as little as you like and once happy with the result, leave to dry. Screw the candle cup into place and partly fill with fine sand or salt, but not any material that may ignite. Insert incense sticks, light, then you can sit back and relax