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Turning stone

Bill M

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Hi there, so from a prompt from Janel, our esteemed administrator, I am posting a bit of info on turning miniature stone vases and bowls.


I have been turning miniature wood and stone vases and bowls for over 10 years now. I started with wood but soon got bored and turned to stone. (No, I did not look at Medusa).


I use a Sherline 1000, 17 inch lathe, I use it like a wood lathe, meaning I hold the cutting tools in my hand and use a tool rest for most of the work. I do use the tool holders for turning square pieces round and for parting off the final piece.


Most of my tools are hand made from other tools (needle files, lathe bits, hardened pins) as well as the standard diamond bits we all have access too.


I have turned Jade, Agate, soapstone, Steatite (harder soapstone), Alabaster, Catlinite (pipestone) and marble. As I am sure many of you know there are many types and grades of all the above mentioned stones and thus have a very different degree of difficulties when it comes to working with it.


When working with the harder stones I use a water drip with the diamond burs and files to shape it. Soapstone’s and the like I use hard steel tools for the shaping.


Depending on the stone I’m working with, I use diamond paste or wet/dry sand paper to polish it.


The jades and agates I usually polish to 100,000 grit with diamond paste, soapstone’s alabaster and marble I polish to 1,500 grit and use white rouge or white marble polish and wax for a final finish.


OK, Nuff about me, here’s some photos of my work and tools.


Please ask questions and or comment as you please.


(Sorry about the order of the photos, I tried to show a progression of my orange alabaster vase in progress but it didn't work).

The first photo was supposed to be the last, it's an amphora vase made from Pipe stone.











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Great pictures and work! A friend of mine has recently gotten a watchmakers lathe, and we've been trying to learn to use it, primarily to make tools for carving and dops for faceting. It's interesting to see someone doing this kind of work with one.


The chuck on hers is like the one on yours, and I've been making a guard out of PVC and plexiglass to keep our knuckles out of range so we can use it with a rest.


Thanks for the photos.


Debbie K

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Thanks Debbie,


The 4 jaw chuck is very useful tool. The 3 jaw chuck is nice and fast to use if your parts are round.

When using the 4 jaw chuck a "last word indicator" is nice to have to get parts concentric with the center of the lathe.


A plastic guard is a good idea, my knuckles have been smacked many times!


If you get into turning wood or stone a vacuum system is a must, the dust is not good to breath.




Here's a photo of 3 white alabaster vases I recently finished


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