How to make a weed pot.
Above, some examples of weed pots, made in a variety of hard woods , two of which have been laminated, and some with their grasses.
What are weed pots? my definition of a weed pot is a small turned vase like shape about 100 mm high and about 50 mm in diameter at it’s widest point, it should have a small diameter hole drilled into it from the top, say 6-8 mm and drilled almost to the bottom. The purpose of these pots is purely ornamental and can be used to display some form of artificial flowers, or my preferred items to display are dried grasses as seen in the picture above. These pots should not be used with anything that requires water, wood and water do not make for a good outcome.
Now to get on and make the weed pot.
Just follow the steps as shown in the pictures and text below, this will show you what you need in tools and equipment, also a step by step guide on how to do it.
The first thing I have to decide on is, how am I going to hold it? my preferred method would be to use a hot melt glue chuck.
You will require something to glue your blank on to, for this cut a disc of any wood to about 100 mm in diameter and fix this to the lathe, it could be with a screw chuck, or a faceplate and screws, or if your chuck will allow, straight into the chuck, (my preferred method). You will need to true up the disc in both directions, i.e. edge and face, once you have done this put a series of grooves in the face, about 3 mm deep and 5 mm apart, this will give you a better adhesion than if it were left completely smooth, I have provided a picture of my own set up, see below.
Tools required from the top down, a hot melt glue gun, Jacobs chuck on a morse taper, 6 mm drill, 1/2″ spindle gouge, 3/16″ parting tool and a 1/4″ bowl gouge.
The chuck with the mounting disc trued and grooved ready to take the blank.
The blank, (right) it’s a piece of Zebrano, a Brazilian wood, 100 mm x 50 mm x 50 mm.
The hot melt glue has been applied to the blank, be generous and work quickly as it goes off quite fast.
The blank now positioned on the backing disc, bring up the tail stock for support, apply some slight pressure and lock off the tailstock, the blank will be ready to turn as soon as the glue cools.
The first thing to do is make your blank into a cylinder, do this by using the 1/4″ bowl gouge or the 1/2″ spindle gouge, making sure you keep the bevel rubbing.
The inside taper in the top of the weed pot is created, firstly use a parting tool going in at an angle of about 10 degrees, take only light cuts stopping just short of the revolving centre, and leaving a pip in the middle
Pull back the tailstock and remove the pip, use a 10mm bowl gouge and taking the lightest of cuts, pare down the pip until you are level with the taper, now with a very sharp tool take a fine cut from the outside to the centre.
The centre hole needs to be drilled next, use 6-8mm drill bit held in a chuck on a morse taper and mount into the tailstock, bring the tailstock up to the blank and lock it off, then with the lathe running wind the tailstock in until the drill reaches your required depth, in this case about 75mm deep, remember to keep clearing the drill as you proceed.
The top of the weed pot showing the newly drilled hole.
Now you can return the tailstock into the hole before continuing with the shaping. Start by making the base cut using a parting tool, this should be done about 3mm up from the glue joint and go in about half way.
A second parting tool cut needs to be done next to the cut just performed, this will determine the diameter of the actual base so needs to be about 75% of the overall diameter, as at position (A).Now cut the taper at the other end (B) this will determine the diameter of the top of the weed pot. Use the 1/4″ bowl gouge or the 1/2″ spindle gouge for this.
The shaping of the weed pot should now be done, for this I use a 1/4″ bowl gouge, working always with the grain, that means from thick to thin,or working downhill. I would suggest you do your cuts in the order I have indicated by the lettering, (A) towards (B) create the curve taking several light cuts, then (B) to (A) cut the curve from the base. (A) through (C) to (D) will require several cuts, remember to always cut downhill.
This is only the rough cut, but you will be able to see if the shape is right, now it needs to be refined, for this a small spindle gouge will be required.
The next stage, refining the rough cut, for this I used a 1/2″ spindle gouge, very sharp and with the bevel continuously rubbing repeating the cuts as in the previous picture, taking them in the same order, two light cuts were required in the area of (C) to (D) just to achieve the desired shape and quality I was looking for. The weed pot is now ready to be sanded.
The weed pot now sanded, the outside shape can be sanded with the tailstock in situation, only removing it to sand the fluted top last. The sanding system I use for all these small items is J-Flex sanding cloth, starting with 120 grit, then onto 180 grit, and finishing off with 240 grit. Don’t press too hard and keep your cloth on the move, finish off with some wire wool (0000 grade, very fine), it’s now ready to be polished.
Before you apply any polish you will need to seal the wood, for this I use Mylands Cellulose Sanding Sealer that has been thinned to about 50/50 with Cellulose thinners, apply with a brush quite liberally all over and before it gets a chance to dry rub it in with some paper toweling. All this is done whilst the lathe is stationary, it will be dry in a matter of seconds but do check first before starting the lathe to flatten the sealer, use wire wool (0000) for this, apply a gentle pressure to all areas until it feels smooth. The top coat can now be applied, I use Mylands Melamine Lacquer, again thinned down to about 60/40 the 40 being the thinners. With the lathe stationary put some Lacquer onto a cloth or paper towel and rub it onto your weed pot trying to get it evenly all over, rub it in until dry (a few Seconds), check that it is dry, then switch on the lathe, with a clean piece of paper towel burnish the whole surface, apply a little pressure and you should see the dullness of the Lacquer change to a soft glow, continue to do this in all areas keeping the pressure even throughout. Once this is done a coat of Beeswax polish or Black Bison polish can be applied, simply rub it on then allow to dry (a few Minutes) then buff up with a soft cloth with the lathe running. You can now part off your weed pot, angle the cut so as to leave the base a little concave, you will need to do the final stage of this one handed as you other hand will be required to catck the pot as it’s released, remove the final pip on the bottom with a sharp chisel, sand seal and polish the base.
Your weed pot is now finished.
The finished weed pot.
The wood is Zebrano from Brazil