Parabolic Mesquite Vase

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Project by BobAnderton posted 09-24-2015 02:29 AM 1857 views 5 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this vase to give to the couple that let me mill a mesquite tree on their ranch a couple of years ago. I used a stacked ring lamination to make this vase with a parabolic shape 14 inches tall and 12 inches in diameter. This was the tallest piece I’ve ever turned and I made a steady rest before I started and I think it was the only thing that saved this piece quite a few times. The last picture is where I’m holding it with a donut chuck and the steady rest right before I part off the waste block to finish the bottom. I started with a piece from a large branch that was about 3’ long and 3 inches thick and about 7 inches wide. I cut it in half and put them side by side to get the width I needed. I made a sliding dovetail before cutting the rings so the rings halves are dovetailed together but you don’t really notice it unless you’re looking for it. This was a really tough piece to turn because it seemed like it was end grain and knots all the way around, and dry mesquite is pretty hard anyway. Mesquite is prone to ring shake and there is a little of that going on here in the piece I started with. I thought about filling in the little shakes and cracks with epoxy but they all seemed solid and I figured it reflected the nature of the wood so I left them alone.

I also included a picture of milling the tree with my chainsaw mill. The mesquite proved to be really slow drying, I guess due to the resinous nature of the wood. I also had a lot of red headed ash borer grubs under the bark and I ended up edging all these boards with the bandsaw before drying to get rid of them. They seem to really love mesquite sapwood.

All and all I’m please with how this came out. It posed a lot of new challenges for me but it all worked out in the end.

Finished with Watco Danish Oil and Beall Buffed with Carnuba wax.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

7 comments so far

View oldnovice's profile


7380 posts in 3607 days

#1 posted 09-24-2015 03:21 AM

That is a gorgeous vase and it looks like it took a lot of work!
I don’t do any turning but I understand what you did to make this.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2365 posts in 1302 days

#2 posted 09-24-2015 09:19 AM

That is fantastic. That log in Photo 5 is a Mesquite branch? We, here in Southern California, have a desert full of the stuff, but they don’t get anywhere near that stout. They’re spindly bushes that are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. I’m gonna have to drive out to the Mojave Desert and fetch me some of that. It’s simply stunning.

-- Mark

View parkprimus's profile


93 posts in 1361 days

#3 posted 09-24-2015 12:56 PM

Amazing vase. Stacking is a technique used with wheel throwing clay, far too technical for me at this point for my turning expertise. Love the smell of mesquite. Thanks for sharing.

View BobAnderton's profile


284 posts in 3030 days

#4 posted 09-24-2015 01:03 PM

Thanks guys. Mark, yeah, that picture in photo 5 is the trunk being milled. It’s a particularly large and straight trunk for for the mesquites around here. I didn’t take pictures of milling the smaller branches, but the one this board came from would have been about a 10” diameter branch after it forked. This tree had blown over or something in years past because it was growing out of the ground at about a 45 degree angle.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3037 days

#5 posted 09-24-2015 02:07 PM

Some serious turning, nicely done indeed.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View JimInNM's profile


316 posts in 1456 days

#6 posted 09-24-2015 06:18 PM

How many times did you have to stop and resharpen your tools..Beautiful

-- JimInNM........Space Case

View BobAnderton's profile


284 posts in 3030 days

#7 posted 09-24-2015 08:56 PM

lol Jim, sometimes, especially with scrapers, the 8 inch grinder doesn’t finish coasting down before you’re back at it. That said, it takes a long time to coast down.

-- Bob Anderton - Austin, TX - Nova 3000 lathe, Alaskan Mark III mill, Husqavarna Saw

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