Woodturning Inside Out 3 Stave Art Flame

Woodturning Inside Out 3 Stave Art Flame


Hi, Alan Stratton, from As Wood Turns (www.AsWoodTurns.com)
At a recent club meeting, we had Dale Dallon do a presentation on a three stave inside
out project. In this case, it was a flame where there is a three stave inside out, an
inner flame turning, and a base. But, of course, the hard part is the three stave.
I had not made a three stave for quite a while. So, I decided it was time to do it again.
Let’s make this three stave, inside out, woodturning project.
Key to turning a triple stave inside out project is wood preparation. This wood is sweet gum
harvested from urban forestry. It is dry and is mostly heartwood. I’ve milled it to just
over 1.25 inches. A great reference is the February 2010 issue of American Woodturner.
However, he used a band saw and I prefer a table saw since I believe it is safer for
me. Your preference may vary. In the article, he gives a formula for the width of a board
given its thickness. That is not enough for me. I solved the same formula to give me the
width of the first cut that is waste and then the width of the remaining cuts for the staves.
The next key is cutting at the correct angle. We need 120 degrees for a three stave project.
How do we cut 120 degrees? First subtract 90 degrees because a table saw is already
oriented to 90 degrees. That leaves 30 degrees. A magnetic, electronic angle finder does a
great job. I also made a new insert for the blade so that I did not chew up my original.
Since my blade tilts to the left, I made an auxiliary rip fence that I can set and clamp
to the table saw. To position the fence, I use a scrap board with parallel sides for
precise positioning before clamping the rip fence. Another sacrificial board is screwed
to the fence so the saws blade can embed into the rip fence.
The first cut is to cut away the waste portion that cannot be used, at least in this project.
Adjust the auxiliary rip fence before cutting the next three staves.
Then position the staves for the first turning. Clamp them securely while applying strapping
tape that has fiberglass fibers embedded in the tape. This provides a huge safety measure.
I also place two dots of thick CA glue on each joint line and let it cure thoroughly
before removing the clamps. Mount the bundle between centers making sure
the center points are in the exact center of the bundle where the three joints meet
The first order of business is to cut a quarter inch groove near each end of the bundle. This
will be used later for alignment when gluing the wood together again. Then cut an asymmetric
cove for the inside turning taking special care at the beginning and ending of the cut.
A triple is easier at this point than a four stave since the wood does not protrude as
far. Then sand starting at 80 grit sand paper. I like to apply shellac friction polish at
this point even if I want to apply other finish later. It helps any glue squeeze out and provides
a good base finish. Then after sawing off the ends of the bundle,
the staves were still stuck together. A couple of taps with a mallet and chisel split the
staves apart easily. Reverse the staves. Gluing the staves is an
interesting process. I chose Titebond original extend glue for a long working time. I’ll
let it dry overnight anyway. I use glue sparingly and take an extra wipe to reduce the glue
near the cut edges. The extra wipe will hopefully reduce squeeze out on the already turned surfaces.
Since the surfaces have been finished, cleaning wet glue is not a big deal. Remember those
grooves. Use a ¼” disk in the joints to help alignment. These don’t need to be glued
in. While the glue dries, I’m mounting a piece
of maple in my chuck. After some roughing, I cut a tenon for a more secure mount.
Then reverse the wood in the chuck for further roughing. Then cut a 3/8” tenon long enough
to be held in my long nose chuck jaws. Then shape it to a flame shape with a short base.
Trying to symbolize a flame, I’m applying yellow dye to the sanded surface. After a
short dry time, I’m streaking the wood with red dye. I started sanding it a bit early
and some die globed up. But a little more sanding took care of the problem. Then I sprayed
it with rattle can lacquer, let it dry, knocked off the roughness again with fine sandpapers
and sprayed it again. The glue is dry. Let’s finish this inside
out turning. I’ve mounted the wood between centers. While I am roughing it a little bit,
the objective is to cut a tenon on the top end. Remember that groove and the disk used
to align the glue up. Well, the wood shattered around it and the wood jumped off the lathe.
No damage but I’ve lost the center. I did a quick trip to the band saw to clean up the
end so I can use the intersection to find center again. Next time, I’ll just cut off
the end. Now that the wood is back on the lathe, I
can finish cutting that tenon. I have to use a tenon so I can drill for the flame and cut
a point on the top. Now the wood is reversed and held in the chuck.
I can start work to drill the hole and cut a tenon on the base. After fiddling around
a bit, I decide the best course is to simple part off that groove and disk. Then finish
cutting the tenon. Then drill a 3/8” hole through the base
to hold the flame. Now that the preparation work is finished,
I can get to the fun part – the inside out turning. I’m sticking to my bowl gouge since
it is the sturdiest gouge that I own. I’ve turned up the RPM’s to near maximum. The
faster the better for this project. No heavy cuts. Only very light cuts. I cannot really
ride the bevel due to the amount of air that I’m cutting. I stop the lathe frequently
to see the progress. I can see approximately how thick the staves are with the lathe running
but I still like to stop and examine the progress. For sanding, I keep the speed high but pressure
on the sandpaper very light. I try to let the sandpaper bridge over the wood and keep
my hands out of the way. When I do put direct pressure on the sandpaper, I keep my hands
downhill from the rotation. I don’t want one of the edges to slice a finger.
With the shape refined with the sandpaper, I can finish the tip. Then completely sand
up through the grits. Then, apply shellac for a finish. I cannot
rub it under power, I’ll have to buff it later.
Now I can finish the base. I did not want to give up the bulk earlier. I’m leaving
a ¾” tenon. Then I can quickly sand and apply a little more finish here. I will not
part it off for fear of a disaster. Instead I’ll use the band saw.
After buffing, my inside out flame is complete. The outer flame is sweet gum, the inner flame
is maple, and the base is walnut. The staves are very straight and even. I like the triple
stave process since it allows larger openings into the inner space. Wood preparation is
more tricky but very doable with some care in setup. A triple inside out reveals more
of the inside through the wider opening. I like it.
Please give this video a thumbs up, subscribe on my website, tell your friends and send
me your comments and questions. Every week I make a new woodturning video. Please wear
your full face shield – anytime the lathe is running. Until next week’s video this
is Alan Stratton from As Wood Turns dot com.

30 thoughts on “Woodturning Inside Out 3 Stave Art Flame

  1. Wonderful! Have not seen a 3 stave inside out before. New finial design, perhaps? Thanks for sharing his styling.

  2. I have done several 4 stave inside out turnings but never thought about 3 stave. Yours is great. Love the flame inside. great color work It looks realistic. Now that you have done a 3 stave, what about two? Thanks for sharing.

  3. Well done Alan, I will have make some, they would be great candidates for some surface embellishments (a la Steven Kennard). Or maybe some pyrography, or maybe both?

  4. Hi Alan. At the first glue up, did you ONLY use the tape around the bundle and CA glue on each end? The reason for the question is I have seen others use paper between the staves so it would release easy after first cutting.

  5. I'm brand new to turning so it will be a while before I tackle something like this but saving it for something to aspire to. Absolutely beautiful.

  6. I prefer triple stave inside/outside turning too. This is a very nice piece. I will have to try one of these.

  7. I really liked 3 stave turning, but I didn't go to far in the schoolhouse and I'm having trouble with the math part, is there a easy way to do this. Thank you.

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