Wood lathe deep hollowing

I need to hollow out a large walnut vessel on the lathe. About 11" deep by 7" ID at the opening, tapering down to 4" ID" at the base. Do we have a hollow boring system? Or does someone have one I can use? I both want to use one for this project and test out a system to see if it’s something I’d like to add to my turning toolset.

Years ago I made about ten djembes on a lathe i cobbled together. The inspiration for the tool to use came from an article in Fine Woodworking. Maybe published 1980s?

The tool started with a 1” tool steel rod About 36” long and I ground to a hook shape following the appearance I saw in the article. I

I had the tool hardened in the East Bay somewhere and then sharpened it. I made a 48” handle with a copper pipe for a ferrel and epoxied it all together. The whole thing was over six feet long so it could handle the torque. It worked great. Then I lost the shop and the rest was history.

You might research old Fine Woodworking for the article

I have a project deadline but I like the idea of making one for future use as commercially available systems seem to run $400+. Did you make a capture plate to keep it level, or was the long length and weight of the tool enough to control it on the tool rest?

Making a lathe to cut that deep at asmbly looks to be a challenge. The one the guy had sat on the floor.

Turning a block of wood that big takes a big machine.

I think there are more elegant ways to achieve the same goal. I’m working now but could talk later. Text me at (512) 423-5202

There is a large lather at Asmbly that sits on the floor.


Is this what you are looking for

Just kidding.

This is kinda like what I made from

I was considering at one time a router mounted on a kind of Pantograph

and adding a way to rotate the material much like the rotary laser we have at Asmbly.

The research I did back in the day noted advantages of turning large logs green to rough out the shape. That allowed the material to dry more rapidly and move around as wood always does especially green wood. The idea was to turn the rough shape, let it dry for a few months, then turn it again to the final contour. Turning walnut logs 18" to 20" diameter and 24 inches long was challenging. Turning them green and hollowing them out for the djembe allowed them to dry and shrink without checking.

This is what a djembe looks like. Picture from Wikipedia. Sometimes they sport these metal “leaf” shapes with something like a key rings along the edges. I “think” it is supposed to “sizzle” like a sizzle cymbal on a drum set. I never got that far along in drumming or making drums.

It was a hippy dream business that remained a dream. Fun. No profit. I didn’t hurt myself. A dream business nonetheless.

Lol That salad bowl is huge!

Your djembe is beautiful! Well done.

Green turning is very fun. It’s like cutting into butter. I have a can of reusable desiccant that helps speed up the drying process without increasing the risk of checking. I’ve seen hook gouges like yours used on green wood. How well does it work on dry woods?

This is an example of the type of hollow boring system I’m looking for. This one is made by Lyle Jamieson. A heavy duty boring bar is captured by two steel plates or rollers for stability. There is an optional overarm with laser pointer so you can see where you’re cutting without having to peer inside the turning.


That looks pretty stable and safe. I found a few tool makers for more accomplished than I am that offered the hook tool that could be mounted in a round bar with a couple of set screws.

Rotating the hook tool you can make more subtle cuts from scraping to shearing depending on the angle of the hook as it meets the wood. The jig above doesn’t offer that flexibility while it would be safer.

The rigidity of the tool rests and mounting the wood is critical to safety. If the tool digs in too aggressively it can lever the handle very forcefully.

For me starting out on a home made lathe made from bits of this and that, hacker style, with zero experience, there were some exciting moments on that journey. No animals were injured making any of my djembes;