Weekend Projects – Decorative jardiniere

Monday 9 July 2018

Many years ago, jardinière's were common within homes and were designed as a platform on which to place a specimen plant, but today they appear to be out of vogue, possibly being seen as more of a classical item. However, a jardinière still has its place and can be adapted to have a modern feel, which is what this article aims to achieve. By incorporating woods that fit in with our interiors, and by changing the design, they can add an interesting statement. This project includes both faceplate and spindle turning and uses a simple selection of tools. The central section of the main pillar is enhanced by producing a form within the pillar with grooves turned with a parting tool. The outside is then enhanced with ebonising lacquer to add contrast and highlight this inner form. The ebonised theme has been continued to add accents to the top and base of the project, aiming to give a contemporary feel to the piece. The wood selected in this instance is ash (Fraxinus excelsior); however the design can be altered for any interpretation. The height can be adjusted, as can any of the dimensions, to suit your own ideas.

Tools used:

3mm parting tool

6mm parting tool

25mm square-end scraper

12mm skew chisel

12mm bowl gouge

32mm spindle roughing gouge


For this project you will need two ash bowl blanks, the first measuring 200 x 75mm and the second 200 x 50mm. You will also need an ash spindle blank measuring 100 x 100 x 390mm. Start by drilling a hole and affix to the screw chuck. Clean up the front face and balance the blank using a 12mm bowl blank


Mark the diameter to suit your dovetail jaws using callipers in a trailing mode, thus allowing only the left tip to contact the rotating blank


Using a 6mm parting tool turn a recess around 8mm deep


Using a 12mm skew chisel remove the rest of the inner material from the blank, working from inside out using the toe of the skew. Trail the tool and finish off the recess by undercutting the outer edge to fit the angle of your dovetail jaws


Scrape the base to clean up any marks left by the gouge and mark a line around the inner edge approximately 20mm in from the outer edge. Set a pencil and a pair of compasses to the distance from the centre to this outer line (radius) and mark six equally spaced points


Using a 10mm wood bit in a slow speed power drill, drill out three holes – miss out every other pencil mark – to a depth of around 10mm. This means that the three holes will be spaced at 120° around the blank. Into these holes three small button feet will later be glued in place. Alternatively, this can be done by removing the blank and using a pillar drill. Once the holes have been drilled sand the base down using 400 grit abrasive


Reverse the blank onto dovetail jaws in the chuck and clean up the front face using a 12mm bowl gouge. Drill out a hole using a 30mm sawtooth bit in a Jacobs chuck to a depth of 30mm


Create a small chamfer using a 12mm skew chisel in a trailing mode at the edge of the hole to later prevent mismatch with the spigot shoulder of the centre spindle


Mark a 60mm diameter, as before, on the front face. Using a 12mm bowl gouge produce the outside profile from the front face to the base, stopping short approximately 15mm from the base


Using the toe of a 12mm skew chisel cut a small defining 'V' groove approximately 2 x 2mm, between these areas. If you prefer, the skew can be used in a trailing mode to achieve this


Scrape the profile using a 25mm square-end scraper to remove any marks left by the gouge and finish by power sanding from 120 to 400 grit using a 50mm hook-and-loop arbor. Be mindful of the defining 'V' groove and try not to obscure the detail


Vacuum up and dust, protect your lathe using kitchen towel, and seal the form top and base using acrylic sanding sealer. Apply several coats, cutting back between each coat to de-nib by hand using 600 grit abrasive


Carefully mask around the form with masking tape leaving the bottom section showing. Place the tape within the 'V' groove. Use your fingernail to run along the groove to make sure the tape adheres within the groove. Mask over the rest of the form and spray with acrylic ebonising lacquer. Use several fine coats of the lacquer until you have good coverage. Allow to dry fully between each coat


Once dry remove the masking tape and redefine the 'V' groove using the toe of a 12mm skew chisel. Once complete protect the lathe and finish with acrylic satin lacquer

Producing the top


As before, drill for fixing to the screw chuck. I reduced the depth of the hole for the screw chuck to 10mm using a wooden spacer. This was done to reduce the amount of material being removed from the top face on finishing. The revolving centre was brought up to add security, taking this into account during the turning of the profile. Clean up the front face and balance the outside diameter, then mark and produce a spigot to fit your chuck jaws. Mark a 60mm diameter, as with the base, and blend from this line to the top, leaving a small rim. Define this with the 12mm skew. Finish with abrasive and sanding sealer. Mask and spray the rim detail with acrylic ebonising lacquer


Reverse the blank into dovetail jaws and clean up the front face using a 12mm bowl gouge. Mark the inner diameter of the rim using a 12mm skew chisel on the front face


Turn out the inside of the face using a 12mm bowl gouge and reduce the face within the rim to a depth of approximately 5mm. On nearing the central 40mm of the front face, turn a small concaved recess to remove the remaining hole left by the screw chuck – this will add interest


Using a 12mm skew chisel in a trailing mode, clean up the face next to the rim and produce a small bead around the concave recess


Power sand down to 400 grit, seal with acrylic sanding sealer, as before, and finish with acrylic satin lacquer


Reverse into Cole jaws, protecting the piece with kitchen towel. Remove the spigot using the bowl gouge. Drill out the centre using the 30mm sawtooth bit to a depth of 30mm, then clean up the base with abrasive down to 400 grit. Chamfer the start of the hole, as with the base form, using a 12mm skew and finish with sanding sealer and lacquer

Creating the spindle


Mount the blank between centres and round down to the round using a 32mm spindle roughing gouge


Using a 6mm parting tool clean up both ends of the blank to length


Using a pencil and rule mark the measurements for the spigots at each end and the central ebonised/ribbed section


Using a 6mm parting tool and callipers set to the spigot diameter, part in at both ends the waste side of the marked lines. Part along until the spigots are formed at both ends


Mark a 50mm diameter on each end and use a 32mm spindle roughing gouge to produce the outside profile from the outer lines of the central area, working from outsider diameter in


Using a 12mm skew refine the surface and define the two outer lines of the central part by using the toe of the skew, as before, on the top and base to produce small 'V' grooves


Power sand down to 400 grit and apply acrylic sanding sealer. Once dry tape up with masking tape to the 'V' grooves, making sure that the masking tape is pushed down into the grooves. Protect the lathe and apply acrylic ebonising lacquer until a good cover is achieved


Use a 6mm parting tool to produce the ribbed area. First part the central groove to depth using callipers. Define the remaining grooves equally spaced to a depth of 2-3mm. This was done by eye using the tool width as a gauge. However, you can mark the central point of the grooves, if preferred, using a pencil and rule. To start the grooves present the tool in a slight trailing mode on entering the wood. This will produce a clean sharp edge without lifting the fibres. Once into the wood drop the handle and engage the bevel, continuing the cut as normal


Once complete, remove the masking tape and apply acrylic satin lacquer

Preparing the feet/buttons


Prepare a piece of ash to fit your chuck and turn down the end to a cylinder of 15mm dia. x 30mm long. Mark a line 6mm and 12mm from the end. Using the toe of a 12mm skew chisel dome the end of the blank up to the first line


Using callipers set to 10mm part in using a 6mm parting tool up to the next line. Finish the face down to 400 grit by hand. Apply acrylic sanding sealer and acrylic lacquer, as before


Using a 3mm parting tool part the button from the blank. Stop short and finally remove with a fine-tooth saw blade. Repeat the process a further two times


Assemble all the parts with PVA glue and allow to dry. The decorative jardinière is now complete


1. To repeat the profile of the feet/buttons of the jardinière, You can use a semi-circle cut out of a piece of thin cardboard, which can then be used as a template.

2. If you make more than one Jardinière, the 120° spacing for the feet can also be achieved by making a cardboard template with three holes that you can pre-punch. This can then be offered up centrally to the blanks and the points can simply by marked with a pencil

3. Instead of grooves within the ebonised area try beads/coves or 'V' grooves to add a different style to the jardinière.

4. Instead of using ebonising lacquer you can tie the jardinière into you own interior colour scheme by purchasing a paint sample pot to match from a DIY store, or use leftover paint that you already have.

5. If preferred, the top can be recessed deeper to take a slate disc, ceramic tile, small dish, or similar