Title vase

Being the start of summer holidays my wife and daughter were getting set to head out of town to visit some family. I am staying behind since work is very busy this time of year and therefore vacation time for me will have to wait. As they were doing their final packing in order to be ready to leave early next morning I skipped (literally) out into the garage and decided to whip off a quick build of a host(ess) gift for them to take.

I had no preconceived ideas, or plans, so I just wandered for a bit to see what nothings I could turn into somethings. A couple years back I acquired about 200 feet of aluminum flag poles from a business that was getting rid up them. I have no use for this much tubing but it was good, clean, heavy wall aluminum for free, how could anyone possibly say no? So I figured I would dip into the stash and steal 10 inches worth, funny how that didn’t really seem to put a dent in the pile.

My plan was to build a custom aluminum cylinder style flower vase to accommodate a few fresh cut flowers. The interesting part of the vase was not going to be the design but instead the finish technique. I had come up with, and performed, the technique once before in the past and it worked well so I thought I would repeat it on a flower vase. As usual I’ve turned the post into a picture book so find your comfy spot and let’s begin.

Vase base cut

The “flag pole” vase was going to need a base. I had a crushed chunk of 2.75″ aluminum that had enough meat on it that I could machine it down to a useable dimension. I love building stuff out of junk material.

Vase base machined

Here the base is half done on the lathe. Just need to flip it around and clean up the other side.

Flag pole clean up

Here is the section of flag pole that is getting the end chamfered in order to weld the base on. Normally I use a steady rest when machining something this long however my rest was about .250″ too small for the pipe. The machining was not required to be precise and therefore hanging it off the chuck worked fine.

Vase ready 4 welding

Here is the base is mated to the cylinder and is ready for welding.

Welded base and body machined

With the base welded in place the vase got remounted into the lathe and the weld, and cylinder, were all machined down clean.

Vase 3 stage polish

Next it was onto the buffing wheel where it got put through the black, brown, green stages of buffing.

Finishing 1st step

With the vase all polished up it was time to start implementing the finishing technique.

Finishing 2nd step

Next step involves using a quality automotive flexible vinyl fineline 1/4″ tape. I apply a pattern to the body of the vase making sure I finish were I started. I then use a different vinyl tape to seal the top and bottom. It is important to trim the top and bottom tape with a sharp knife in order to get a clean, crisp, edge.

Finishing 3rd step

3rd phase involves about 1 minute in the glass bead blast cabinet where the exposed polished sections of the vase get pummeled.

Finishing 4th step

Nothing left to do now except strip the tape off and clean it up. I probably should have water tested after the machining phase just in case however I am happy to say I tested after it was all finished and it does hold water.

Vase rim

I kept the rim polished.

Vase body

Whole project took about 1 and a half hours and involved no out-of-pocket expenses. Just enough time left to slip it into the suitcase.

  1. raceman says:

    nice job

  2. Ben says:

    Your creativity is admirable. Like an artist!

  3. Nice to see you back Gord!


  4. SKCases says:

    You confirmed my suspicions on whether I could tape off a pattern on my aluminum work and sandblast it without messing up the tape too bad. Looks great!

    • gordsgarage says:

      The sandblasting over tape technique works fairly well. The tape survives and the lines are fairly crisp. It is a cheap and easy trick to give the project an unique finish.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s