Transforming An Old Fence Post Into A Rustic Fence Post Vase

Hi, Alan Stratton, from As Wood Turns dot
com. I’m here today with Russ Coker from Cascade
Woodturners. He’s going to do the project this week. And, what he’s going to do is — What
is this? It’s a fence post made into a vase.
Oh, looks great. So, that’s what you’re going to use?
Ya, this is a very dry piece of wood we get out of Cheyenne, Wyoming off my wife’s homestead.
It’s pretty gnarly. It is. What we have to do is evaluate this
and try to keep it all in one piece as we turn it. It’s healthier that way. What we’ll
do is work the wood into a neck, and then hollow it — drilling out the center. Then
after that we’ll clean it up a little bit. And, cut off the tenon.
Are you going to leave that nasty nail there? Eventually, it will come out.
Oh, okay. Well Russ, let’s make one of Russ’ fence post
vases. Let’s do it.
After mounting the fence post on the lathe between centers, Russ carefully examines the
wood. After a hundred years or more weathering on the Wyoming plains, the wood is full of
cracks and loose wood. He’s also looking for features that he’ll want to highlight in the
finished turning. Any loose wood receives first some thin CA glue then some medium CA
glue until it is firmly anchored. He does not have a detailed drawing — he’s going
to let the final shape emerge from the old gnarly fence post. A rubber glove helps keep
CA glue off his left hand. When ready, Russ is carefully positioning
the tool rest. The wood is far from round — it’s hard to guess just where the swing
is. He’s forming the neck and lip first. I expected him to start out with a really heavy
bowl gouge. But no, he pulled out a large skew. Why a skew? A skew will cut better and
leave a smoother surface. This is really scary as he approaches this wildly spinning hunk
of cedar. But, he’s very careful. His skew is sharp and heavy. He’s also careful to keep
the cutting point below the middle of the skew’s blade. There’s not much of a bevel
to ride, he’s cutting a lot of air. The ghost image at the top of the spinning wood is all
he has to go by. The neck is almost a large nasty `cove. How much to turn is a balance
between preserving the weathered surface and obtaining a clean flowing shape.
Some different sounds alert Russ to some loose wood. So, he stops and anchors it down with
more CA glue. With the neck partially formed, Russ needs
to drill the hole in the top of the vase, but as usual, that is easier said than done.
He has to first cut a tenon on the base of the vase so he can hold the wood in a 4 jaw
chuck. But the wood is so far from round that this is scary. First, he’s using a skew to
slice into the outermost edge. Then he uses a saw and chisel to remove the outermost waste
wood, then back to a skew. A bedan also helps. Now with the cedar securely mounted into his
chuck, Russ sets up to drill the hole. After just barely touching the end with the drill
bit a large chunk broke off. Time for some more CA glue. This time Russ adds some extra
insurance with a band clamp. Then to protect himself, he wraps the band clamp with tape
to secure the loose end. Now he can finish drilling the hole. After
drilling out what he can, he adds an extension to drill a little deeper. He stops when he
can see the hole thru a crack in the wood. Russ had just started forming the lip at the
top of the vase when that large chunk broke off again. Time for more CA glue.
Then finish just a little hollowing to flare out the hole.
Then bring up the tailstock again to stabilize the cedar. You cannot believe the sigh of
relief when the tailstock in back in place. Now Russ can finish forming the throat and
lip. Since Russ can see the hole through the cracks in the cedar, he cannot go any thinner.
But to my amazement, Russ pulls out a gouge for a little wood removal but still finishes
up with a skew. With the throat wood removed, Russ can bring
his tool rest closer to the bottom of the throat for some fine finishing. It’s still
pretty wild turning since the wood here is far from round.
After some sanding up to 240 grit — that’s enough for a rustic piece — Russ applies
boiled linseed oil thinned with paint thinner. He thins it so it will soak in better. This
goes on the rough natural surface. For the neck, Russ uses French polish for
more sheen. There’s still the tenon on the bottom to deal
with. Russ cuts this off on the band saw. He doesn’t care that it is not perfectly perpendicular.
In fact a little angle away from perpendicular is a plus.
Then Russ smooths off the base on a sanding disk he mounts to his lathe.
Well, Russ, looks like you finished it. I did, and it’s always a pleasure to have
a piece of work that you can recycle from a hundred year old fence post and it can set
nicely in somebody’s home. Thank you Russ, and we’ll see you again then
on another video. Thank you Alan.
This video, where a fellow local woodturner turns a project, was an experiment. Please
comment if you like this experiment and whether you would like to see more videos of other
woodturners on my channel. Meanwhile, please subscribe to both my website
and YouTube channel. Always wear your face shield. You can’t grab it just in time, that
does not work. Until next time, this is Alan Stratton from As Wood Turns dot com.

Posts Tagged with…

Reader Comments

  1. Earl Rumble

    You're right about this being a bit scary! Always glad to see the input from other turners so please continue to include guests.

  2. Yuval Lahav Woodturning

    Excellent video! Recycling wood is probably one of the strong points and why I started turning, the public asks for more! 🙂

  3. Alex Pettigrew

    Very nicely done. Would love to see more of your friend. I've done a bit of work with old yellow locust fence posts from my Virginia farm but haven't tried a hollow form. I'll have to give it a go.

  4. John Bare

    Yes I like the idea of visiting other woodturners.  I quite enjoyed seeing a fence post not going into the fire instead becoming an interesting if scary project.

  5. Kylie Jane

    Awesome.  I loved the vase even though it was very scary watching.  Would love to have more guest turners.  Thanks for once again giving us a great video to watch.

  6. Matthew Drummond

    Like others who have commented I too like see guest turners. I also really liked seeing the struggles with the chipping out that was encountered on this project. I like to see how Russ adapts to the wood to complete the project

  7. James Templeton

    Thank you and yes please (more turners). I love watching these projects that I would never think of. Now I just have to find some bodark (osage orange) fence posts, trying to make sure they are still not being used, lol.

  8. George Oliver

    I enjoy your presentations and like seeing differing ideas. I wound not of thought of using the skew on such an uneven chunk of wood.

  9. Terry Vance

    Great project. I liked seeing a guest turner. I would be interested in seeing how the flowers were turned and put together.

  10. SJWoodworks

    Greetings from another Pacific NW woodturning youtuber! Wow, my knuckles were white from gripping the arm of my chair on that one. I can only imagine being there in the shop where that thing was turning! Great video.

  11. Sam Slechta

    Alan, thanks for the video.  It is always nice to see other turners and how they do things.  I learn something new every time.

    I am inspired to try this, maybe on a bit more uniform piece of wood before trying it on a nearly flat fence post, but very cool nonetheless.  Thanks!!

  12. RJBWoodTurner

      I liked the experiment. It is very interesting to hear one person narrate what another person is doing. The second person perspective sometimes covers more detail because the person doing the work may take some steps for granted


  13. Willem Kossen

    oddball scary courageous project. question: isnt it actually a bit bad for the lathe to spin these uncentered pieces? it must shake like a scared hippopotamus.

  14. Tom Stratton

    That guy must have incredible foresight to find a vase in that hunk of junk! Most interesting and a nice change to your usual format.



  15. Rusty Panels

    Hi Alan.
    It seems frustrating to have bits come lose and have to glue them back, but the end product is great. Your video's are always good to wath. You explain proceedures very well. It would also be good to watch other turners as your guest, I enjoy your work, so I would enjoy watching any turner you choose to show.
    Best regards Shayne……Australia

  16. PeteTGIF

    Thank you Alan for this great featured Wood turner.
    For most of us wood turners the skew is one of the tools that scare us the most. Even cutting with an all supported bevel like on a dowel sometimes leads to problems. Cutting air with the skew requires a lot of imagination as you have to 'think' the wood where there's none. The result never the less is outstanding and no other tool can give you a similar result.
    I bet you'd been the one who said more than once 'impossible' during this awesome project. That's what I'd call experience. As we all learn from the experience of others, I'd like to see more of 'non YouTube' turners besides your 'normal' shows.
    Greetings from Good Old Germany
    PS: Happy 4th of July

  17. Alan Biddulph

    That looked pretty scary!  But what a great way to breed beautiful new life into something old and ugly.  It was great to see another turner doing his stuff.  Take care.

  18. James Brodd

    Please have visiting woodturners.  You always do a great job, but some other guest visits would expand all woodturners knowledge base.  Thanks again for sharing.

  19. Tony Malcolm

    I agree with John Bare, I too think it's a good idea to share the knowledge of other woodturners and have them guest on your video's, so long as you keep making some of you doing your thing as well.

  20. Steve Jackson

    once every  month a guest turner would be superb , 
    it will give the site depth , even collaborative videos every so often , 

  21. Trev Sutton

    Thanks Alan this was a great video, I think it's a very good, original idea to have other turners guest on your channel, it can only bring a wider range of experience to the woodturning community , and maybe more inspiration to all us newbies!!! Thanks again and keep up the good work. Trev

  22. Mike Waldt

    Excellent video Alan, your friend is a master, of that there is no doubt. Brilliant to see what most would condemn to the fire, emerge as a beautiful work of art. However, not a project for the novice, or "faint of heart" me thinks 🙂 Great to see different turners occasionally on your channel Alan, but not I hope at the expense of your innovative, and inspiring offerings 😉
    Take care

  23. John Jackson

    I'm always looking to view other turners, do what you can do Alan, I'm sure they'll be very interesting, as Russ has been, this turn was scary but at the same time very artistic. I'm sure my wife and her girl friends would love this vase, Nice job Russ and thank you Alan for sharing!

  24. Steve Jackson

    its a wood turners desert here in hong kong , how i wish i could open a little workshop to promote these skills , but i don't think the hong kong culture is geared up for handy crafts , its more banking and there is not so much room for workshops , as its the second most highly populated place on the planet next to macua which is next door , 

  25. Greg B

    I think having guests like that is a great idea. Not all the time, but occasionally. Great idea with the vase. It would probably go well in a log cabin or western themed home.

  26. Howard Richburg

    I like the change.  It is great to see wood turners from Oregon.  I'm out in Burns.  Benn turning for about 3 years now and learned a good ten years worth by watching YouTube videos like yours. I think I'm going to look for some old fence posts this week.  Thanks Alan!

  27. Lou VanDyne

    You are right that was a little scary to watch thinking what could happen with a piece of wood like that.  
      And yes it would be nice to see different turners.

  28. Fred Graber

    Love this video Alan. He surely has no fear of that skew. Very nice looking piece saved from the burn pile. Always nice to get a new person's take on turning. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Adam Quincey

    Very nice piece! It's great to see other woodturners and their skill…! But i would still like to see you turning! Great video, cheers… Adam…

  30. Yuval Eitan

    I love it when fire wood finds it's way to the lathe. This one was challenging indeed, but the result proves it was worth it.
    As to the "host a friend" pilot – Great!! I am a big fan of sharing info, and this one is presenting the info source (makes sense?)
    Thanks for this host-post! Keep'em comming !

  31. bluemtnsman

    What a beautiful piece.  I have several post vases I made many years ago from Locust and Osage Orange post drops when we relocated a 40 year old fence on the farm.   Good to see this type of turning is still in favor. 

  32. baconsoda

    That's courageous turning!  I really like the end result but getting there is a bit scary.  However, it is wonderful to see what guys are up to and specialising in because it fires all our imaginations.
    Best Wishes, Brendan.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *