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Segmented Urn

author-gravatar joshcraigrainey Apr 25, 2020

This is a project that I put a lot into.  My dog, Snoods, passed away in March and I wanted a fitting place to hold his remains.  People say that they put their blood, sweat, and tears into a project.  I have said that many times, but this is the first time that has been true to the word.  This is the first time I've done anything segmented and was unsure if I should attempt something new and complex for something so important, but as you will see, it turned out wonderfully.  I'm also no expert on a lathe, and I've never done anything other than some spindle turning just to try it out.  So, I am sure that I am not doing this is the most practical or best way, but I learned a lot as I went.

Photo of Segmented Urn

I started out watching a bunch of YouTube videos and it eventually led me down a path to create this segmenting jig.  Though I didn't use the plans from segeasy's website, I have come to understand that is the original design for it and want to give credit where it is due.  The jig works great.  I added some bits and bobs to cater it to my needs though.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Getting the jig set up is very crucial so that you don't end up with gaps in your segments.  I tried this a multitude of ways, but none of my tools were precise enough.  I couldn't cope with buying a wedgie, when I could buy 123 blocks and machinist squares for the same price as just a couple wedgies.  So that is the route I went, and it worked out perfectly.

Photo of Segmented Urn

This is my very first test piece, before I had more precision, there is a small gap.

Photo of Segmented Urn

I've never built a prototype for anything before, but since this was important and I was trying something new, I created a prototype out of big box store softwood lumber.

Photo of Segmented Urn

It turned out just fine, and the prototype is quite nice itself.  That being said, I learned a lot of lessons along the way, used the wrong tools at times, and on the back side is a big gouge from my lack of turning skills.  I took tons of notes to make sure that I didn't flub up the final one.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Selected a nice piece of walnut for the real urn.  No contrasting segments or anything fancy.  I wanted it to be simple and timeless.

Photo of Segmented Urn

The first real ring went together perfectly.  No gaps at all.  I did find that rubber bands seem to work better for me that those hose clamps.

Photo of Segmented Urn

This urn is 9 layers tall and 12 segments per ring.

:)

Photo of Segmented Urn

Glue up.  It is difficult to get the right pressure on it and keep it aligned.  A jig is probably in my future for any other segmented turnings.

Photo of Segmented Urn

These are the three sections glued up.  I needed to glue this up like this for two reasons.  You need at least two rings glued for stability, otherwise you would only have end grain to end grain.  Secondly, with my design, I wouldn't have been able to get to the inside if I glued them all together at first.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Started with the cap bottom and hollowed it out.

Photo of Segmented Urn

I flipped it around and finished the top.  This Nova chuck is one major improvement from my first attempt. 

Photo of Segmented Urn

I wasn't really sure how to use the Nova chuck at first, but you can see I figured out how to not use a live center to save my cap from having a divot in it.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Next I put the top section on.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Drilled it out.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Enlarged the hole so that it had a good fit with the cap.

Photo of Segmented Urn
Photo of Segmented Urn

I threw on the bottom section.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Got the rough form of the outside. and created a mortise on the bottom.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Flipped it around.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Did my best to hollow out the inside, but... 1.  I was not very successful with my lathe tools.  2.  I was a bit scared of it at my experience level.  Ultimately I taped some sandpaper to a stick and it took several hours to hollow out the inside, where I am sure an good turner would have had it roughed out in minutes.  If it works, it works though and I got the job done.

Photo of Segmented Urn

I used my Shopsmith/lathe and live center to glue the top and bottom together while keeping it centered.  This worked great.

Photo of Segmented Urn

I am including this photo to show you how lucky I am.  I completely forgot to check the alignment of the top and bottom for the brick pattern that I had going.  By sheer luck, they lined up perfectly.  I have used up my karma, or perhaps I had my dog watching over me.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Turned it to its final dimensions.

Photo of Segmented Urn

I would wet down the wood to raise the grain and then sand it.  I did this probably 4 or 5 times.  It ended up coming off with an almost glass like sheen.

Photo of Segmented Urn

So it turns out turning is fun as hell.  Also part of the fun is making a mess.  I am sure many turners know this, but when you use your lathe tools just right it shoots the wood off in a stream.  It made me feel like Spiderman shooting web.  So I put a couple Spiderman stickers on there.  I think this automatically makes your lathe run better.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Final form and starting to put on Danish Oil.

Photo of Segmented Urn
Photo of Segmented Urn

I only put one coat of oil on it.  The grain didn't raise even in the slightest.  I buffed it out after it set for 15 or so minutes and left it to cure for a week or so.

Photo of Segmented Urn

Here is the final form and a photo of our dog.  I miss him so much.  It was beautiful and hard to give him his last gift.  But I am quite proud of it and I suspect he would be too.

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