Most of the wood we use for our cremation urns are cut and processed here at our onsite woodshop. This area of the country has an abundance of species of great old trees. Every windy ice storm brings us down a large supply of walnut, cherry, oak, elm and maple. Like most woodturners, my chainsaw gets tons of action. We cut it down and block it out, plane and saw it into shape, wax the ends, and then set most of the wood aside for drying.
The best, most figured blocks we rough-turn immediately, preparing each one for its finish turning six months to a year later. Using the lathe, we turn the bowl, platter or vase shape thickness to one-and-a-half inches (1½"). Then we soak the blank in a curing agent for a day or so to prevent misshaping and cracking, or we just bury it in a paper bag with its own wet sawdust. Either way, this stabilizes the wood for later.
When a rough-turn is completely dry, we pull it out for finishing. First, we hand-turn the base, cutting it into shape. Sanding and applying the finish is the most important element of any woodturning project. It has to be as close to perfect as possible. When the base is completely done, we knock it off the wooden chuck, flip it over, glue it to the chuck again, and then glue the dried rough-turn to it. When these glues are fully dried, we hand-turn the bowl into its final shape. For an original touch, we add a lip to the top rim on most of the vessels for extra stability to the vessel opening. We then sand the heck out of it, from eighty (80) down to fifteen hundred (1500) grit. Like the base, we complete the piece with either polyurethane or a special wax and shellac finish. Finally, we fit the vessel with a matching lid. This demands perfection also. Each lid must fit to within one millimeter of movement.
All cremation urns, lidded prayer bowls and wooden table platters take from eight to twenty-four man-hours of work. Each one must be as close to perfect as humanly possible. We are artists and not factories though, so we see beauty in the process as much as in the finished product. Because we love what we do, our hearts are in each hand-turned piece, and we believe this is worth every minute. We guarantee that you will also.