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Advice for finishing my first vase (Read 386 times)
 
Mark Putnam
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Advice for finishing my first vase
May 9th, 2016 at 8:00am
 
This weekend I finished turning my first-ever vase. It is made of mahogany, measures about 8" tall, and has a simple "olpe" shape. It is about 4" in diameter at its waist, and at its narrowest point--the neck--it is about 3" in diameter.

This week I'm planning to sand it and begin applying a finish. Finishing just happens to be the most confusing and uncertain part of my already limited woodturning skillset. So I'd like to ask for your opinions--How should I finish this vase?

Ideally, I would love for it to be waterproof to allow it to be used to actually hold cut flowers. But I realize this is a complicated, most likely impossible task. So I am also open to less functional, more decorative suggestions. The wood has a few interesting features to the grain that I would like to bring out, and I would prefer that the wood be darkened as little as possible. I would like to have everything completed in the next two weeks.

For your information, here are the finishing products that I currently have in my shop and are available to me:

- Boiled linseed oil
- Rockler's Tung Oil (100% Pure)
- Minwax Tung Oil Finish
- Prelude Butcher Block Oil
- Howard Feed-N-Wax Wood Polish & Conditioner
- Shellawax Liquid Friction Polish
- System Three T-88 Structural Epoxy Adhesive
- Stick Fast CA Glues (thin, medium, thick, and flexible)
- General Finishes Enduro-Var Water Based Urethane

Specifically, I'd appreciate your input on the following questions:
- Should only one of the above products be used, or would some kind of combination be more effective?
- Depending on your suggestions, can/should the vase be finished on the lathe or off?
- What methods for application would you recommend?

I understand that finishing is largely a matter of personal preference. However, I have VERY little experience with finishing, and I have never worked specifically with mahogany. Also, this vase is intended as a gift, so I would like not to ruin it by going in with a random choice of finish. Thanks in advance for your input. I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts.
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Bill Neff
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Re: Advice for finishing my first vase
Reply #1 - May 9th, 2016 at 9:01am
 
For a vase that you would put fresh flowers in, I'd put an insert in it.  Something like a large test tube.  Craftsupplies carries this one as well as a stainless steel one..
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But since the vase is already finished, an epoxy coating might work.  Tim Yoder on the Woodturners Workshop had a show where he made a desk water fountain with 3 bowls and used an expoxy finish to protect from the water.
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Mark Putnam
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Re: Advice for finishing my first vase
Reply #2 - May 9th, 2016 at 10:18am
 
Thank you, Bill. I put a lot of work in to hollowing out the vase's wall to a uniform (or as close to uniform as I can manage) 1/4" thickness so that the inside profile matches that of the outside. I'm really proud of that work, particularly because the grain pattern on the inside is really pretty. So for this particular vase, I don't want to insert a tube. But I will keep that in mind for the future.

I'm curious from the rest of the group, if this was your project and you had access to the list of finishing products in my original post, how would you opt to finish it?
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Ed Weber
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Re: Advice for finishing my first vase
Reply #3 - May 9th, 2016 at 11:36am
 
Tung oil has been used for centuries to water proof wooden items.
You can always use one waterproofing product (functional  only) on the inside an a more aesthetic finish on the visible portions of the vase.
Water proofing wooden items isn't really a problem. The problem arise when people want to put hot liquids, alcohol based liquids or don't properly care (typically hand wash) for the item.
In the future (if you're not aware) there are many glass or stainless steel insert made for this application.
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Al Wasser
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Re: Advice for finishing my first vase
Reply #4 - May 9th, 2016 at 1:17pm
 
I'm not sure about the Minwax Tung Oil finish, but some of the "tung" oil finishes contain no tung oil.  Your pure tung oil will take a longgggg time to dry unless you add some mineral spirits.
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