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Thread: How to hollow larger boxes?

  1. #1
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    How to hollow larger boxes?

    I've made a bunch of smaller boxes (3-3.5 inches round) and have been using a half inch spindle gouge to back-hollow the waste out of the middle. I now have some really nice spindle blanks that are 5x5 or a little bigger (pretty dry, about 4 years old) and I'd like to turn some boxes with them. Will I need to use a different method to hollow? Each blank is at least 12 inches long so I can do one large box or cut in half and make 2. I don't like the idea of using a forstner bit because 1) setup time/efficiency and 2) I want a smooth bottom. Thanks guys.

    Edit: I guess these blanks would be better suited to larger hollow forms but I don't think I'm there yet (assuming technique is different) and don't want these going to waste waiting on me to build the skills. Unless I'm just underestimating myself but idk.
    Last edited by John Kananis; 03-01-2024 at 11:47 AM.
    "The reward of a thing well done is having done it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. #2
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    The techniques will be the same as making a hollow form as a box in that size. So if you are up to make a 5" x 12" deep "box", you are up to make a hollow form. You'll need a spindle steady, a big hollowing tool to go that deep, and in my opinion, a camera system to help you guide the hollowing rig to that depth. A 3-4" tall by 5" dia box will not require all that equipment.

  3. #3
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    Richard, thanks for the vote of confidence...

    As far as large hollowing tools, I purchased the two largest easy wood tools I could find when I first purchased my lathe (one straight and one curved) but I'm not really excited about using non-traditional tools (now that I know better). Could I just use a large bowl gouge or will that cause issues with tear out (due to grain direction)? I see that the camera systems are cheap and I think I have something I can use already along with an extra computer monitor. No dice on the spindle steady and truthfully, I think I need work on the more basic stuff before graduating to hollow forms (am I just limiting myself?).

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    The techniques will be the same as making a hollow form as a box in that size. So if you are up to make a 5" x 12" deep "box", you are up to make a hollow form. You'll need a spindle steady, a big hollowing tool to go that deep, and in my opinion, a camera system to help you guide the hollowing rig to that depth. A 3-4" tall by 5" dia box will not require all that equipment.
    Last edited by John Kananis; 03-01-2024 at 4:09 PM.

  4. #4
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    You could open the bottom and then turn from both ends which would be about half the distance; then put a flat plug in the bottom. However you are still working 12" away from the drive so a spindle steady would be a good thing. If you are really getting into turning it might be good to consider making one (or buying one) sooner than later. Lots of ideas on the web for how to make one.
    I don't think I'd try to hollow a cylinder 12" deep with a regular gouge or scraper unless I was able to get the toolrest into the workpiece for support to minimize overhang. I'd likely be using my Oneway Termite since I don't have a hollowing setup but if you are fussy about a smooth surface all the way down it will be tricky.

  5. #5
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    Hi Bill, I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself and should focus on basics still. I just made a couple boxes so I'll post them up in a little bit for critique. My brain is getting a little ahead of me skill.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Howatt View Post
    You could open the bottom and then turn from both ends which would be about half the distance; then put a flat plug in the bottom. However you are still working 12" away from the drive so a spindle steady would be a good thing. If you are really getting into turning it might be good to consider making one (or buying one) sooner than later. Lots of ideas on the web for how to make one.
    I don't think I'd try to hollow a cylinder 12" deep with a regular gouge or scraper unless I was able to get the toolrest into the workpiece for support to minimize overhang. I'd likely be using my Oneway Termite since I don't have a hollowing setup but if you are fussy about a smooth surface all the way down it will be tricky.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kananis View Post
    Richard, thanks for the vote of confidence...

    As far as large hollowing tools, I purchased the two largest easy wood tools I could find when I first purchased my lathe (one straight and one curved) but I'm not really excited about using non-traditional tools (now that I know better). Could I just use a large bowl gouge or will that cause issues with tear out (due to grain direction)? I see that the camera systems are cheap and I think I have something I can use already along with an extra computer monitor. No dice on the spindle steady and truthfully, I think I need work on the more basic stuff before graduating to hollow forms (am I just limiting myself?).
    I find real vessel hollowing systems to be far superior to any hand held option. Once you get those Easy Wood tools hanging a few inches over the rest, the amount of vibration goes up exponentially. It gets hard on your arm, elbow, and shoulder.

  7. #7
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    I like using a box rest with various tools for boxes up to about 6" deep.

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