River Platter




About: I am a 22 year old woodturner from Sydney. I have been wood turning for about 6.5 years and have completed my apprenticeship in cabinetmaking. I left my full time work to try and make it as a wood turner

I have always been inspired by river tables. My favourites are the ones from Greg Klassen. I have added a link to his facebook page

Anyway, I had a slab of a burl and I cut out the circle shape for my platter. The off cut I could have thrown out but I chucked it my pile of stuff to deal with later. I remembered his works and found the burl off cut again about a year later. This is how I transformed a bit of scrap to an awesome bowl.

Step 1: Preparing the Off Cut

This is the off cut from the original larger platter. I looked at the piece and tried to figure out the largest diameter that I could possibly do. For this one it was 270mm. I had to use another waste block that was the same height to set the compass. I marked out the 2 sides predicting for a 90mm gap between the 2 for the river (1/3 of the total diameter).
I then cut out the shape on the band saw and used a screw driver to remove the bark. It actually came off pretty easy on this one.

Step 2: Making the Casing for the Resin

I have used resin a little bit in the past and one time I thought I had sealed it well enough but it wasnt the case. I made sure this was done really well this time. Ideally it would be in the base of a bucket or a round container of the size. By using timber blocks with the same radius and lining it with plastic and duct tape, I sealed the area. Then to double up, I used hot glue to lock it all together as an extra measure. Some how the resin can find its way out but this did a pretty good job.

Also because the resin is expensive, I made some waste blocks to fill in areas that would be turned away. I think this actually saved me a bit of money

Step 3: Mixing the Resin

I used Feast Watsons glass finish which can also be used as a casting resin. They have a strange ratio for the mix but I found it was easier to look at the levels in the bottles as they are the same height just different diameter. Thats my cheat way for getting the ratios out without measuring out everything to strange measurements.
I mixed this in 3 lots, each varying in colour a a bit. This gives it a more interesting colour rather than a flat blue. The first was done by just mixing a blue dye stain. The next time I added a little bit of yellow to make it slightly green. The last was was a very diluted. I poured them in a swirling, uneven pattern so it looked as realistic as possible.

Step 4: Waste Block

This was the main waste block that I used to save on resin. I used duct tape to hold it in place. I chose cedar as I had that also in my pile of off cuts. Being a porous timber, it took in some resin causing a bit of a reaction at the endgrain where it bubbled and set really quickly. In the future I wouldnt use that timber.

Normally to get rid of bubbles, you degas it by waving a flame over the top. To do this I used a butane torch, making sure the flame is not directly pointed at the resin/timber. This got out most of the bubbles except for the ones effected by the chemical reaction.

Step 5: Removing and Preparing the Blank

After its cured, I took it out of the blocks and plastic. I gave it two days. There was a small leak but it was all contained by the hot glue. So glad I added that. Using the compass again, I found the center and drilled a 50mm hole with the forstner bit. Always use a drill press with this type of bit for safety.

Step 6: Turning the Back

I mounted the blank on a chuck using the forstner bit hole. I shaped most of the back using a pull cut. That was the most efficient way of removing waste. You can see in the 3rd pic it did create a bit of tear out. I also had to keep shaping it to remove some of the wasted blocks that I used to save resin. I changed to a really sharp gouge for a push cut. That got a much better finish. I then sanded with 180/240/400/600/1200 grits

Step 7: Turning the Inside

Just like turning any other bowl, I started by truing up the edge. You dont need to do the entire surface as you will be taking most of it away anyway. I always keep the bulk in the middle and work from the edges. This will help with vibration in the piece as the inside is more supported. Im not the biggest fan of turning resin but the ribbon that you get are pretty spectacular. I found one and measured it to be 7m long which is pretty crazy. I sanded the inside to the same grits as I did with the back.

Step 8: Finish

I wanted a high gloss to match the resin and give that water like effect. I tried using the resin as a finish. Being a round surface I just struggled to get it right. Its a very fin line between drips and not having enough. I tried 2 coat on each side but wasnt happy. I ended up cutting it back and spraying lacquer like I do any other job. Wish I had done that in the first place. I am pretty happy with the final piece though. I took it to the market the next day and it was the first to sell so that was encouraging. Hopefully there was something in this that helped out.



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    15 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 8

    How much did you sell it for? What was the final diameter? How did you hold the piece in place to do the front / top of plate? It would have been great to have seen how the piece was held in place for both back work and front since I'm relatively new to lathe work.

    2 answers

    I did sell this for $200 but it probably should have been a bit more. Materials costs are high and I spent a lot of time experimenting. I have a 150mm diamter foot and I have jaws that match that. Its just a big flat tenon that I gripped to. There is more information on the chucking technique on this project- https://www.instructables.com/id/Steampunk-Wooden-...


    I can see that it would have easily gone for more than $200, just from the sanding down to that level of fine grit! Thanks for the chucking info - good to know. Well done.


    1 year ago

    what does something like this sell for? I have a hard time knowing what my (and other people's) work is worth.

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    After seeing the river tables on facebook recently I have been thinking about doing something like this. I think it looks great and makes me want to have a go even more now.

    1 reply

    Question 1 year ago on Step 7

    How did you mount the blank on the backside to turn the front ?

    1 answer

    Sorry I forgot to mention that. I had a 150mm diamter foot and I have jaws that match that. Its just a big flat tenon that I gripped to