Pencil Pot Tutorial

by Peter Clark

Materials List:

  • MDF circle to screw onto your faceplate or grip in a chuck.
  • Base plate about 4″ in diameter
  • Off cutes about 5/8″ wide and 13″ long for each course
  • 8″ hose clamps

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This shows an MDF disk, a paper disk cut from a magazine cover and a bandsawed base for the pot.

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The MDF disc and the top of the paper have been covered with Titebond II.

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They have all been mounted together in roughly the center of the pot.

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Now clamped. The initial turning on the baseplate was done about 4 hours after clamping this quite safely.

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Using a roughing gouge to trim up the base plate.

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This shows the first ring glued up. The hose clamp is tightened, before finally tightening this look at the under surface to make sure the segments are all level as this will save sanding.

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These pics show the the first course in place and being clamped. In theory you should wait 24 hours before working these rings. I usually leave two hours then sand them and turn them shortly after.

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Some more rings.

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Use a micrometer and set it to gauge roughly halfway down the base plate from the tool rest.

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I use a heavy scraper, high RPMs and a light touch which minimizes vibration. This first turning has to go halfway to the base and I use a scraper for this set just below centers.

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You need to make sure there are no unturned triangles in the base, and you will need to slowly move the scraper handle away from you to keep it parallel. Using your hand as a fulcrum, pull the handle toward you and it will take a clean cut off the base.

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Here the micrometer tells me I have gone deep enough.

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Again, a large gouge, high RPMs and a light touch will minimize the vibration from doing the outside.

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I now have sanded the base to 220 grit. I do this because the pots can be too narrow to sand comfortably after the rings are added.

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With rings this thin, except for the first one you can add two at a time, but glue them together first. Note the joints are staggered in the courses.

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Here two rings are being added at once. You may be tempted t add more than two rings. You may get away with it, you may not.

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These show the pot being separated with a chisel inserted at the paper joint. One advantage of using a lathe with a chuck, is that the pot can be put on the chuck using interior pressure at the mouth. The paper and any glus can then be remove with a scraper, otherwise you have to sand it off.