Turned Tulips

These beau­ties will never wilt.


Put the metal to the petal and turn these beau­ti­ful blooms in­side out.

Let your lathe skills blos­som by try­ing in­vo­luted or “in­side-out” turn­ing. The process in­volves re­saw­ing and re­assem­bling a blank with its formerly out­side faces in­side, and shap­ing the blank. Then, re­assem­ble the blank in its orig­i­nal con­fig­u­ra­tion and turn some more. The re­sults will make you say “Wow!”

We chose yel­low­heart (closed blos­som), padauk (par­tially open), and pur­ple­heart (open). Se­lect any color wood you like or try turn­ing poplar or maple and dye­ing the flow­ers bright col­ors (see page 56).

Pre­pare the blanks

1 For the closed and par­tially open tulips, pre­pare 111∕16"-square blanks 13" long. For the open tulip, pre­pare a 23∕16"-square blank 13" long. La­bel each cor­ner, then re­saw and re­assem­ble the blanks by wrap­ping them with mask­ing tape [Photo A].

2 For each flower, cut a 3" length from its taped blank. As­sem­ble the quad­rants with dou­ble-faced tape [Pho­tos B, C]. Then mount a blank in a four-jaw chuck with the la­beled end against the chuck [Photo D]. Draw lines around the blank 1" and 13∕8" from the un­marked end.

Shape the out­side (which be­comes the in­side)

The three flow­ers share some turn­ing tech­niques, while each has its own, as well. Look for the bold sub­heads to guide you through the steps needed for each flower.

Closed and Par­tially open flow­ers: With the lathe at 1,800 rpm, use a skew chisel to cut a pom­mel be­tween the lines [Pho­tos E and F]. Us­ing a rough­ing gouge, turn a 1 12 ∕ " cylin­der from the pom­mel to the right end. For the

closed flower, move on to the step la­beled All in the next col­umn. For the par­tially open flower, use a spin­dle de­tail gouge to round over the right end [Photo G]. Then go to the step All.

Open flower only: Fol­low the steps in Pho­tos H–J then go to the step All be­low.

All: Sand and fin­ish only the turned sur­faces. (We wiped on Bri­wax us­ing a pa­per towel.) Re­move the blank from the chuck and sepa-

rate the quad­rants [Photo K]. Peel off the tape and glue the quad­rants to­gether in their orig­i­nal ori­en­ta­tion (la­bels in the out­side cor­ners) keep­ing the edges and ends flush.

Shape the true out­side

All: After the glue dries, grip the la­beled end of the blank in your four-jaw chuck as be­fore.

Closed flower: Us­ing a spin­dle rough­ing gouge, turn the blank to a 11⁄2" di­am­e­ter, work­ing as close to the chuck jaws as pos­si­ble. Mark lines 1" and 2" from the right end. Us­ing a skew or spin­dle de­tail gouge, shape the petals [Photo L]. Go to Closed and Par­tially

open in the next col­umn.

Par­tially open flower: Us­ing a spin­dle rough­ing gouge, turn the blank to a 11⁄2" di­am­e­ter, work­ing as close to the chuck jaws as pos­si­ble. Us­ing a skew or spin­dle de­tail gouge, fin­ish shap­ing the petals by re­duc­ing the di­am­e­ter un­til the flats at the ends of the petals dis­ap­pear. Mark a line around the blank at the base of the petals, and an­other 1" to the left of that line. Pro­ceed to Closed and

Par­tially open be­low. Closed and Par­tially open: To the left of the left line, part to 5⁄8" di­am­e­ter. Shape the bot­tom of the flower [Photo M]. Go to The fin­ish­ing touches on the next page.

Open flower: Mark pen­cil lines around the blank 11⁄4" and 21⁄8" from the right end. Part be­tween these lines to a di­am­e­ter of 19⁄16". With a spin­dle rough­ing gouge or spin­dle de­tail gouge, shape a cove from the right end of the blank to the right end of the parting cut [Pho­tos N, O].

Mark around the blank at the base of the petals. Part at the 21⁄8" line to 5⁄8" di­am­e­ter. With a spin­dle de­tail gouge, round the bot­tom of the flower to match Pat­tern F [Photo P].

The fin­ish­ing touches

All: Sand and fin­ish the out­side of the flower. At 1 ⁄ 16 " from the bot­tom of the flower, part to 3⁄16" di­am­e­ter and blend the round-over to the parting cut [Photo Q]. Switch off the lathe, and hand saw the flower from the blank.

Drill a 1⁄8" pi­lot hole 5⁄16" deep cen­tered on the nub. Then en­large the hole to 3⁄16" and fi­nally 1⁄4". Ap­ply a clear fin­ish to lengths of 1⁄4" poplar dowel, then glue them into each flower as stems.

Dou­ble-faced tape C Ap­ply tape to the C/D pair and press the A/B pair against it. The edges should be flush, and the joints aligned. Tip! Re­la­bel the freshly cut end so you can cut ad­di­tional tulip blanks from it.

A Solid blank, squared up Re­sawn blank, with each quad­rant squared upSquare up the blanks, then re­saw each into quar­ters. Ma­chine each quad­rant for the closed and par­tially open tulip to 3∕4" square, and the open tulip to 1" square. Dry-as­sem­ble and tape to­gether each blank as shown on the right.

Dou­ble-faced tape Clamp a squared-up scrap to your ta­ble­saw rip fence. Join quad­rants A and B, then C and D, press­ing the pieces against the scrap, fence, and table.

Cor­ners in cen­ters of jaws pro­vides only four points of con­tact. Mount the blank cor­rectly. Chuck­ing it as shown on the left does not pro­vide as firm a grip as the method shown on the right.

Cor­ners be­tween jaws pro­vides eight points of con­tact. Pom­mel: A tran­si­tion from round to square.

E Use the toe of the skew to shape the pom­mel, rolling from left to right, but start­ing away from the left line. Stop when the cut just traces the full cir­cum­fer­ence at the right line. Work back to the left line if nec­es­sary.

J Flat ar­easWith a spin­dle rough­ing gouge, turn a 21⁄8" di­am­e­ter from the right line to the end. Note that a flat area will re­main on each face. Switch to a spin­dle de­tail gouge and round the end to match Pat­tern B.Safety Note: Un­like cloth, pa­per tow­els will tear away, rather than get tan­gled around a spin­ning work­piece.

I Turn a pom­mel be­tween the lines, rolling from left to right and stop­ping when the cut touches the in­ter­sec­tions of the two marks and the right line.Note: Use the pat­terns as guides, not fixed pro­files. Work for smoothly curved shapes in each step.

HOn each face of the open-flower blank, make two marks 3⁄4" from the edges.

G Round the end of the par­tially open flower to match Pat­tern A.

F Cut traces cir­cum­fer­ence

KClamp the blank to a work­sur­face with the joint over­hang­ing the edge. Sep­a­rate the halves with­out dam­age by twist­ing a sec­ond clamp se­cured to the over­hang­ing por­tion. Re­peat to sep­a­rate the two re­main­ing pairs.

M With a spin­dle de­tail gouge, round from the right line to the bot­tom of the parting cut, check­ing the shape against Pat­tern C or D.

L Round from the right line to the end of the blank. Stop when you re­move the last flat from the tips of the petals.

OShape the cove un­til the flats dis­ap­pear from the tips of the petals. Com­pare the pro­file to Pat­tern E.

N To avoid catches when “turn­ing air” be­tween the petals, be­gin the cut with the han­dle low. Raise the han­dle rather than push­ing the tool for­ward.

P After parting near the chuck, shape the bot­tom end of the flower be­tween the pen­cil line and the parting cut.

Q Use a skew chisel and sand­pa­per to blend the round-over down to the re­main­ing waste. Add fin­ish to the newly shaped area.

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