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How to Make a Bud Vase From Two by Fours

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John has been a professional woodworker for more than fourteen years and has worked in and around the industry for more than forty-five.


What Are Bud Vases?

I discovered turning bud vases watching other woodturners online. They are used as small decorative pieces that can have flowers, weeds, and even twigs stuck in them. Whatever you fancy fits your decor. The techniques I use in this article were first applied to turning small candlesticks. My first bud vases were actually turned from sections of thick branches I'd scavenged. Combining the two came quite naturally and the results are pleasing. If you want to practice woodturning they are a terrific item to make. They are small and the amount of wood used is minimal. You can scavenge enough material from a two by four cutoff scrap pile to keep yourself busy for a while. They do not require that you hollow out the vase. All they require is a three-eighths inch hole drilled down into them (Other diameters can be used depending on the size of the item turned). Not only that any turnable chunk of a thick branch can provide a great deal of additional material. Below is a quick slideshow of items I've turned out of two by four materials using the same techniques I use for turning bud vases.

Please note that you shouldn't put any water in your bud vase unless you give it a waterproof finish first.


How To Prepare The Blank

The blank for this project is simply two two by fours glued face to face. However, there are several considerations that will give you better results.

  • For starters select clean two by fours. Gluing dirty or weather material will yield a much poorer glue joint but also your glue line will be dark and will be noticeable in the finished project.
  • Secondly, take a look at the end of your material. Grain pattern can be important especially if you live in a very humid environment. Try not to select boards cut from the middle of the tree trunk. If it is you will see the circular pattern on the end of the board. I find these boards will expand in the middle as they take moisture from the air and this could cause the edges of your glue joints to open up over time.
  • Finally, most boards naturally cup even if it is only slightly. When you glue your pieces together face the cupped faces toward each other. That will give you your best glue joint. If the sections were cut from the same two by four you will have a more or less symmetrical grain pattern on your finished project as well.
  • As always with two by four material, I recommend cutting off the corners of your blanks to save wear and tear on your lathe chisels.

How To Mount The Blank To Your Lathe

For safety and stability, I always turn my blanks in two steps. In the initial step, I will mount the blank between centers. With a roughing gouge, I will turn the entire blank round, smooth the surface with my large skew and then cut a tenon so that it can be mounted to my chuck. While it is possible to turn bud vases without a chuck, it would be difficult. I highly recommend purchasing one if you don't already own one. Adding a chuck to your equipment will open a lot of possibilities for your woodturning. I purchased mine on Amazon and a link is provided below. It was the least expensive I could find at the time that was suitable for my purposes. It might not be the best quality one they offer but I've been quite happy with mine. I've already done a considerable amount of work with it.

This is my shop made drill bit tool. You do not have to have an extra long drill bit.

This is my shop made drill bit tool. You do not have to have an extra long drill bit.

Turning Your Blank Into a Bud Vase

I start by roughing out the general shape that I want. The possibilities here are virtually endless. Because you are working with Spruce which is prone to chipping and tearing out. I would keep your design simple. It will need sanding so keep that in mind as well. The biggest challenge is making the hole for whatever you plan to put in your little vase. If you have a Jacob's chuck for your tailstock that won't be a big deal. I don't have one. Instead, I made a tool which is basically a drill bit mounted into a handle. I purchased an extra-long drill bit from the dollar store, turned a handle for it on the lathe. Drilled the necessary hole to accept the drill bit shank and epoxied it all together. To use the drill bit tool I cut a deep dimple into my blank where I want the hole with my lathe skew making sure that the point of the dimple is well centered. Then I push the tool by hand into the work while the lathe is turning. Using this technique I've had very little trouble with the hole getting off-center.

The finished bud vase made for this article.

The finished bud vase made for this article.

It is sometimes helpful to watch the process on video. Take the time to watch the video below. It may help to explain the process better.

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Taking It To Another Level

Practicing woodturning by make bud vases like the candy bowl from my previous article is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. The spindle turning techniques that I use here have been used by me to make bedposts, candlesticks, oversized chessmen and a number of other items.

You could expand out into making table lamps, wooden goblets and a host of other practical and decorative items. It really is up to you what you do with this from here. I will continue to make more articles in this series. Stay tuned. I will try to have something new every week until I start running out of time and/or ideas.

My wife picked some quick wild flowers to show off our work

My wife picked some quick wild flowers to show off our work


John (author) from New Brunswick, Canada on August 12, 2019:

Thank you. I like the natural colour of wood so a great deal of my work is finished that way.

John (author) from New Brunswick, Canada on August 12, 2019:

Thank you. I love working with wood especially on the lathe. Hoping these hubs get lots of attention. I'm working on building an extensive series.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 12, 2019:

Beautiful vases and very creative work.

I liked that the vases are in natural wooden colours.

Thanks for sharing this well presented tutorial.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 12, 2019:

What beautiful vases! I love most things in wood; it's so tactile.

I'll have to get someone to do some of these for me!

Great hub!


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