Turning a Potpourri Container

A Pictorial Article by Bob Hamilton


These potpourri containers make great gift items.  They are attractive and quite easy to make.  The pewter lids are available from several sources.  I get mine from Lee Valley Tools.


Figure 1:  Potpourri blank ready for mounting



This is a blank ready to be turned into a potpourri.  I make the blanks by resawing 5/8” from a piece of 8/4 stock 6” wide, planing the cut faces smooth and gluing a 5/8” thick piece of contrasting wood to the thicker of the two resawn boards.  I start with boards 3’ to 4’ long which produces 6 to 8 square blanks.  The black line on the edge helps me maintain the orientation of the original resawn pieces throughout.  In this case I have used cherry and black walnut.   I have bored a 9/32” hole in the center of the blank for mounting on my screw chuck.


Figure 2:  Screw center mounted in 4-jaw scroll chuck



This next photo shows the top part of the potpourri mounted on the screw chuck in preparation for turning the inside face.  This recess should be turned into the face of the top that was resawn from the original board.


Figure 3:  Potpourri top mounted for turning inside surface


The next photo shows the recess turned, sanded to 400 grit and finished.  The finish I use is called Clapham’s Salad Bowl Finish, and is a blend of beeswax and mineral oil in the form of a soft paste.  I rub it into the wood with the lathe stopped and buff it out with the lathe running.


Figure 4:  Inside of potpourri top completed



This completes the inside of the top and I now remove it from the lathe and set it aside until I am ready to glue it to the bottom.  In the next picture I have mounted the bottom part of the potpourri to the screw chuck in preparation for turning the outside of the bottom.


Figure 5:  Potpourri bottom mounted for turning outside

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