Hollow Turned Vessel

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A hollow turned vessel can be a real piece of art. Well executed, it’s not only a visual treat, but a wonder of workmanship since many people can’t imagine how you can excavate a thin-walled piece through a small hole at one end. But that is how it’s usually done, using special long-shank offset turning tools and a deft touch. The biggest challenge with this approach lies in maintaining the control of cut while reaching deeply into a blind hole. To help students ease into the techniques involved, I’ve developed a sort of “cheat” that simplifies the process.

In a nutshell, my technique involves first hollowing out just the top section of a vessel using an offset scraper. I then part off that section, which allows easy access for hollowing the remainder of the vessel with regular gouges and scrapers. Afterward, I reattach the top and add a decorative bead to conceal the joint line (see Figure 1). The “split-top” is a great way to get started at turning hollow vessels, while producing a piece that will wow your friends and family.

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