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Bruce Wood -Butterfly Box with “Greenstone” Insert

Club Night: 29 June 2021
Report by Kieran FitzGerald

The demo this week is a butterfly box with a domed “greenstone” lid. The greenstone is actually a resin mix of two secret colours with pohutukawa shavings embedded. Bruce relented and advised the colours were yellow and blue but did not give away the shades of colour. The greenstone is an insert in the top of the lid.

Bruce explained that the design of his box had evolved from a taller straight sided box to a shorter, curved edge butterfly box. He showed us previous examples, including one made entirely from “greenstone”, one with a beautiful burl insert, and one with an interesting clear resin magnifying top.

To prepare the resin, Bruce had cut a block of wood with a foot for the chuck, and put pvc tubing around it, in to which he poured the mixed resin and shavings. To make sure there were no bubbles Bruce pressure tanked it, but this step could be eliminated if you do not have a pressure pot.

The box starts with a piece of wood 95 x 95 x 50. Bruce used tawa. After cutting the corners off, it was mounted between centres and turned at 2500 rpm down to 93mm. Bruce cut a spigot, remounted it in the chuck and made a finishing cut.

With the top of the box at this stage being at the tailstock end, Bruce shaped the lid part down to 82mm round and 10mm deep. It was not parted off yet. Using a 50mm forstner bit, and showcasing his fancy digital tailstock depth gadget, Bruce drilled a hole 32 mm deep through the top. Next he opened up the hole to 52mm wide, because it needs to fit the jaws at a later stage in the process. The cut in the lid end needs to be a finishing cut because it can’t be reached later. A quick sand and take the whole piece off the lathe while still on the chuck.

Now take the resin insert piece. This was mounted on a chuck, and Bruce had already polished one side of it to save time. Bruce turned it down to 63mm with a scraper.

Next Bruce put the box piece back on the lathe to turn a recess in the lid to fit the resin insert. He cut the recess 3mm deep. When it was a good fit after test fitting, he gave it a very light sand, sealed the surface and applied CA glue on a paper towel. He polished the parts that would be inaccessible later with EEE.

Put the resin insert, in it’s chuck, in the tailstock. Give the surfaces of the lid where it is to be fitted a final clean, apply medium CA glue to the insert, and bring the tailstock forward until the resin is seated in the lid recess. Give it a squirt of activator, and a tidy up where the insert meets the lid to get rid of any superglue which may be there.

Next step is to part off the lid. Bruce used a thin parting tool, but made the break through cut with a saw. Take the chuck holding the lid out of the tailstock.

Face off the top of the box base piece. The inside of the box needs to be 65mm, so mark it with a caliper. To allow a 3mm upstand, and 20 mm to hold the butterfly, hollow to 65mm wide and 23mm deep. Bruce used a parting tool and finished with a square edge carbide tool. It has felt put in later, so doesn’t need to be a perfect finish. Even so, Bruce gave it a good sand. Then, with a parting tool cutting from the side, he cut a 3mm upstand to take the lid. After putting on sanding sealer, Bruce marked the point where it would be cut off at the bottom. Allowing 5mm for the thickness of the base, the cut off point is 3mm for the upstand, 20 mm depth for the butterfly, and 5mm for the bottom, a total of 28mm from the top. Bruce cut back from the bottom mark, down to just shy of the chuck, then marked the centre of the side and shaped the side round with a spindle gouge, leaving the centre pencil line to be sanded off. He cut it just deep enough to leave a flat next to the upstand for the lid to seat on. Then a quick sand through the grits, and superglue to harden the surface ready for a polish. Apply EEE and Aussie oil, then remove from chuck.

Bruce did not remove the foot from the base as part of the demo, but he explained that he would do this by fitting a piece of pvc pipe inside the box and expanding the jaws of his 50mm chuck in to it.

Put the chuck with the lid in the headstock. Make the lid fit the box. Face off the front, then make a recess, just deep enough to take the upstand. Butterfly boxes do not want a tight fit for the lid. Bruce felt the flat inside the lid looked too big, so he cut a further recess stepping down towards the centre. Remember it still needs to be strong enough to be held in the chuck. Clean any superglue, and give it a sand. As done previously, harden with CA then polish with EEE and finish with Aussie Oil. On the circumference of the lid, mark the centre and round it off as per the base piece. Sand and put on sanding sealer to the outside.

Turn it round in the chuck with a compression hold against the resin. Bring up the tailstock. Next job is to shape the top. Start by removing most of the waste wood at the tailstock, leaving enough to keep it secure. Start to shape the dome. Using a gouge can chip the resin, so when it is near final shape finish with a scraper (skew) to get a smooth finish. When the shape is mostly formed, carefully start to nibble away the rest of the waste wood. The last cut through the top is with a thin parting tool. Withdraw the tailstock, and smooth off the top of the dome, taking care to get a good curve and not a flat. Now with a power sander starting at 150 grit Bruce worked through the grits to 500 and polished with EEE. At this stage the beauty of the greenstone is revealed. Bruce removed the lid from the chuck and fitted the beall wheels to the lathe, charged them, and buffed both the top and bottom of the box. The shine of the greenstone was amazing.

Bruce capped off his excellent demo by producing a larger version of his butterfly box and opening the lid. With a jack in the box surprise a bevy of butterflies flew from the box, a truly fun way to end a superb demo. Woohoo!

David Jones – Butterfly Box with Finial

Club Meeting: 23rd June 2021
Report by: Nicole Morley

On Wednesday 23/06/21 at the Papatoetoe clubrooms, David taught us how he makes his beautiful butterfly boxes with finials. These are a treasure that I’m sure the receiver would love.

Firstly, David roughed out an Ash blank that was slightly larger on half with a step down in the center and then put tenons on both ends. This was then mounted in a double-chuck fashion which allows the work to be aligned exactly right from the start.

Whilst set up on the lathe, he then cut the two parts in half with a parting tool and a Japanese saw. It was noted to release the pressure on the tail stock to allow for easier sawing.

Shape the base as per the standard methods and take out the center of the box. David has a small block that has been made up to the correct dimensions to check as he goes which would be handy if doing multiples.

Now, sand any imperfections out.

Remove from the lathe and put the chuck with the lid section on in its place. Face off the piece and then make your rim. This should be a loose fit, but not sloppy. Don’t be too scared to stop the lathe multiple times to check. David then did a rebate on this so that he could turn the lid around on the chuck in expansion mode.

Shape the lid as per profile that is pleasing. Keep in mind when getting close to where the finial will sit that it is possibly better to go slightly larger (around 15mm max), then this can be blended in with the finial attached later.

Face off the post for the finial and drill a 7mm hole approx. 7mm deep.

Sand your work.

Now, with a chuck with smaller jaws, mount a piece of Pacific Ebony and turn into a finial. It was said that if you are unhappy with your finial shape, throw it away. It is only a small amount of time spent on it, so is better to redo than have regrets later.

The attachment of the finial is done whilst the lid is on the lathe. David has made a small jam chuck that will take the point of the finial, which means that your finial should be pretty close to perfectly straight. It was whispered around that a few people had glued theirs in crooked. 😊

Although a very sharp point on a finial looks lovely, if you are worried about safety of children, it was proposed that you could put a small sphere at the highest point.

Thankyou David for your presentation. I am sure we will be seeing a few renditions of this box on the final meeting this term.

Andrew Corston’s Slotted Butterfly Box

Club Meeting: 16 June 2021
Report by: John Young

Andrew had kindly come down from the North Shore club. His plan was to demonstrate a Butterfly box with a unique twist. A slot, cut right through the middle. After showing some examples of previous work, he got straight into it.

He started with a laminated block of Maple and Wenge, which had already been rounded. The dark strip of Wenge was wedged between two pieces of pale Maple, providing a nice contrast.

The block was fitted between centers. A spigot was cut on one end with the skew chisel.

The block was then mounted in a 50mm scroll chuck and trued up with the spindle roughing gouge.

A spigot was cut on the other end, again with the skew.

The lid was parted off with a thin parting tooland set aside to complete later.

Andrew proceeded to cut three small beads in the bottom of the box, with his 6mm skew.

Above the beads he cut a small rebate with the roughing gouge, so the beads would pop out.

A thin rebate (2mm) was also cut for the lid.

Cutting the slot
To start the slot, Andrew used a 3mm wide grain tooth. (A custom tool, ground from an old woodworking chisel).

He plunged the tooth in a few mm, to cut a shallow groove around the entire circumference.

Two guide holes were then drilled5mm oneither side of the Wenge strip, using it as a guide.

The drill holes were to mark where the slot would start and finish (on each side). A third hole was drilled to help clear out space for the jigsaw blade.

Before cutting the two slots with the jigsaw, the inside was hollowed out with a cup tool hollower. The interior sides were tidied up with a parting tool and a bowl gouge.

The box was hollowed to a depth of 25mm, to leave enough room for the glass butterfly.

Using the drill holes as a guide, a power carver was used to cut two openings for the jigsaw, on either side of the Wenge.

As the power carver can be very aggressive, Andrew recommends inserting the carver into the drill holes before turning it on. Then switching it off before you withdraw from the cut.

Now that two small openings have been created, the jigsaw blade can be inserted to cut the two slots out fully.

The jigsaw was rested on the tool rest, and kept stationary as the box was slowly rotated by hand to fully cut out the two slots.

A folded piece of sandpaper was then used to tidy the grooves.

With the bottom nowmostly completed, the lid was mounted in a scroll chuck to complete.
Three beads were cut into the lid with the skew chisel.

Again, a small rebate was cut to make the beads appear more pronounced.

The inside of the lid was hollowed with the cup tool hollower, with a parting chisel used to cut a clean inside edge.

After the fit of the lid was checked, the inside was lightly sanded.

The lid was then flipped around and mounted in the chuck in expansion mode. The top was shaped and the spigot removed. A small knob was left on the top to make for easy removal of the lid.

Finishing the bottom.
The bottom of the box was carefully mounted in deep bowl jaws in expansion mode.

The bottom was trued up, then shaped to removed the spigot.

The bottom was shaped with a slight concave so it would sit flat.

Overall an excellent and highly skilled demo from Andrew, with many great tips for the South Auckland club.

Thanks Andrew.

Cam Cosford – Butterfly Box with Three-way Symmetrical Facets

Cam turned a cylindrical box and lid from a single 90mm sided cube. The box retains three of the cube’s faces, which become almond shaped facets on the completed box.

Start by mounting opposing corners of the cube in jam chucks that fit the ‘pyramid corners’ of the cube. (The jam chucks can be made by cutting a 60 degree angle from the long edge of a slat, then triangulate equilaterally from this beveled edge and cut. Glue three pieces together, then round and spigot, to create a three sided recess jam chuck that fits any cube’s corners.)

Use a bowl gouge to round the mounted cube blank down to 100mm diameter.

Create a 45mm or 60mm diameter spigot on the headstock side. From the point where the three cube faces meet the already turned 100mm diameter, to towards the headstock, turn down to 80mm. This portion will become the lid.

From the headstock side of the 100mm diameter, measure 25mm towards the tailstock and part off. Remount using the 45mm or 60mm spigot into chuck jaws. Using callipers measure a 65mm diameter circle in the tailstock side face, which will become the box cavity. Square the rim and hollow the box cavity 24mm straight in. Create a 90 degree corner to a flat base. 

For the outer sides of the box, create a gentle curve from the box rim to the 80mm portion. At this point, using a 2mm parting tool, cut the box base off the blank leaving the lid portion still mounted to the lathe.

Square this face, then concave the inside of the lid 5mm deep and 65mm in diameter. The lid has a protruding lip that fits into the box recess. Use a skew to incrementally remove the lid’s rim outer edge, and test by bringing the box up to it, until there is a precise fit. 

Mount the box base on the lid and fix with masking tape for a secure but temporary attachment, and bring the tailstock up for additional support. 

Use a bowl gouge to shape the lid’s top surface up towards the mounted spigot. Then shape the box base outer. The three flat facets should remain in an almond shape. 

Remove the masking tape and reverse the lid into a jam chuck in order to turn off the previously mounted spigot, and shape the top of the lid. Bring the tail stock up. Use a bowl gouge to shape the lid into a curve, using the remaining cube pyramid to make the lids knob.

The result is an elegant box to fit the butterfly taonga. Retaining portions of the cubes outer faces through the turning results in the unique three-way symmetry of this box’s design.

Terry Scott – Hinged Lid Butterfly Box

In keeping with the term theme of butterfly boxes, Terry’s challenge was how to make a lidded box which was different from previous demonstrators. His response was to add bling. “If you’ve got grandkids, they’ll love it”. The bling in question was a hinged collar separating the top and bottom sections of the box, which allowed the top to swing up without detaching. The bright gold and decorative sculpted and inlaid finish provided the bling.

Terry passed around several beautiful boxes that he had prepared earlier. Not all were hinged, one had a paua bangle from the $2 shop, others had various ornaments on the lid, also from the $2 shop, and another incorporated a tea light candle in the top. Terry sounded a caution about keeping protection between the wood and the candle.

The demo got off to an ominous start, when one of the boxes spilled on the floor and the lid was broken. Whether this unsettled Terry remains a mystery, because like any professional demonstrator he was quick to cover up any whoopsies in his demo with a quick dollop of humour.

Terry started his demo by taking a piece of kauri approx 100mm x 100mm. He mounted this cross grain in the lathe using steb centres. Terry explained that the idea of mounting it cross grain as opposed to the more traditional end grain was that it better displayed the chatoyance and grain pattern in the wood.

Tip: Clean the top of your toolrest with your sander and finish with a bit of wax to give a smooth surface for your chisels.

The first step in the process is to round off the piece. Terry chose a fingernail grind bowl gouge, not a spindle roughing gouge, because it is cross grain. After cutting a spigot at the tail stock end, Terry turned the piece and mounted it in the chuck. Then he cut a spigot at the other end. Remember to leave a centre mark on your spigot for when you need to line up your tail stock later. As he was cutting the spigots, Terry demonstrated some rights and wrongs, and showed the effects of a spigot that is too long for the chuck, or a shoulder that is off round.

Next Terry parted off the piece which would become the lid.

Tip: If using steb centres, do not part all the way through because the pressure of the spring mounting can cause an accidental dismount.

Working on the bottom part of the box, Terry trued up the face. He used calipers to measure the hinged bracelet and transferred the mark to the wood, in this case 75mm. He cut the rebate which would hold the bracelet from the face, not from the side, so as not to rip out the grain. Match the fit of the bracelet to the cut. There was discussion about whether the butterfly on the bracelet goes up or down – Terry thought it was optional and he preferred the butterfly to sit on the bottom of the box. Janet’s preference was that the butterfly goes on the top of the box to give a fingerhold for lifting the lid. Either way, a small v cut is needed to ensure a good fit.

Before hollowing out the bottom of the box, Terry drilled the centre as a guide to the depth. Then he demonstrated hollowing using both a bowl gouge and a cup tool. The bottom can be finished with a negative rake scraper, but, as always, remember that a better finish can be achieved if rubbing the bevel. To finish the bottom, Terry power sanded starting with 240 grit, and going through to 400. Before sanding he applied U-Beaut Aussie Oil, and finished with U-Beaut Shellawax over the oil.

Tip: Texturing can be useful to hide any torn grain.

Terry removed the bottom from the chuck and mounted the lid piece. As with the bottom, he trued the face and marked the correct diameter to accommodate the bracelet. He then cut a spigot to hold the bracelet, with a slight undercut. Holding the bracelet on the piece, Terry pencilled another mark for the inside diameter. He then hollowed to this mark, and sanded and finished as per the base piece. Terry’s advice is to add texturing inside the lid and to frame the textured pattern – this adds an element of surprise when the lid is opened. Paua dots inside and out are an alternative decoration to the lid.

Next step is to remove the tenon from the bottom. Terry used a jam chuck and paper towels to firm up the fit, but advised that hot melt glue should be used if necessary. Bring up the tail stock. Shape the bottom to your desired shape. To remove the nub, Terry bound the wood to the jam chuck with copious quantities of masking tape before withdrawing the tail stock.

Tip: A $19.95 glue gun from Bunnings or Mitre10 is better than a glue gun from a craft shop. Glue sticks vary considerably in quality also, Bosch 714 glue sticks are best.

Tip: If it is cold heat up the work with a hot air gun, or use a heated up metal face plate.

Repeat the process for the lid, again shaping the top as desired. Terry created a dome and applied a small bead near the bottom of the lid, then a variety of framed textures, and several concentric circles around a small finial at the top. This was followed by a quick sand, then gilders paste applied with the finger to the lid while still spinning on the lathe. Terry used Aussie Oil to fade out the colour of the paste.

The hinged bracelet should be glued with dots of 5 minute Araldite applied at “o’clocks” around the circumference.

Tip: Do not ring the entire piece with glue in case of movement in the wood.

Tip: Do not use superglue because it may run down the side of the box. It also gets brittle over time.

Terry’s dialogue was excellent; each part of the process was described in detail with plenty of tips and much humour. The main message Terry imparted was to rub the bevel and maintain tool control.

Bob Yandell – Tear drop butterfly box

Club Meeting: 26th May 2021
Report by: Graeme Mackay

Bob’s demonstration provided another way of making a butterfly box. A whole new direction for lidded box. The original idea was an oval box shape. However it was deemed to be too long for a demo. An interesting alternative put forward, a teardrop box based on Steven Kennard’s work; a teardrop shaped lidded box. New Woodturners should note that the process for teardrop boxes can be found in the SAWG online project sheets. They are well laid out and easy to find. (https://sawg.org.nz/sawg/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Teardrop-Box.pdf)

Bob’s initial comment is important: preparation planning and there is clear direction to reviewing the intended product; in this case teardrop shaped lidded box. View of the intended target allows a process to check measurements, and look at the proportions of proposed teardrop ensure the correct amount of wood. As many will know, there is a need to ensure that the process is followed in order to make the required teardrop shape.

The box project provides a good target for checking skills and working on your approach to ordered processes. This project provides lots of avenues and once trialed allow the lots of options.

Bob provided quite useful tips for start-ups and beginner Woodturners:
Take time to check out the process required-use the project sheets.
Sharp tools-there is no exception.
Check your safety gear and dust systems-again is no exception.
Measure and check, check the chuck bite requirements and ensure there is wood for the final shape.


The project requires understanding client requirements. Part of this decision requires deciding on whether to have a pop fit or straight lift off that. This box will be one that is for regular looking and/or quick opening. Bob suggested using the template. A guideline provided will allow for well proportioned curves – in this case visually simple with project complexity on both base and lid.

“Remember, you cannot put the wood back on.”.

Use of templates implies that you are going to need to follow the processes outlined for this type of box. A part of this special lidded box project is that you are continually checking for measurements that ensure the correct fit and shape. An excellent turning exercise.

Final tip from Bob:
“start a series, there are many shape options that can be derived from the original project sheet.”

Warwick Day – Small Lidded Butterfly Box

Club Meeting: 19 May 2021
Report by: John Young

As a prelude, Warwick started by displaying some small, elegant boxes he had picked up on his travels, as well as some of his own creation. Elements of good design and embellishment were pointed out.

A dry piece of Plum was to be turned into a Butterfly box. The blank (already roughed shaped) was mounted it in a 35mm chuck.

After making it round with the roughing gouge, the bottom of the box and the lid were marked out with pencil.

A beading tool was used to make a bead on the bottom of the box.
As a tip, material on either side of the bead can be removed with a spindle gouge to aid the beading tool and prevent tear out.

Bruce Wood suggested marking the bead with a pencil, to prevent digging the beading tool in too far.

Another bead was made at the base of the lid.
This was made with the parting tool (to mark the bottom of the lid), and the spindle gouge (to create the bead itself).

The top of the lid was then shaped, leaving a small elegant knob on the top. Terry’s $10 texturing tool was used to texture the top of the lid.

The lid was parted off with a thin parting tool, rubbing the bevel.

The outside of the box was then turned to its final shape, textured and guilders paste applied for effect. The paste would be left to dry before sanding most of it off later.

The inside of the box would now be hollowed.

A parting tool was used to mark the inside edge of the box and to create a shoulder. The bowl gouge was then used to removed the bulk of the inside.

To square out the bottom, a square edged scraper was used to gently remove the inside curve.

If you’re getting tear out, sanding sealer and repeated thin layers of superglue are recommended to harden the wood fibres.

Following this, Warwick would normally sand the inside, use EEE, followed by Shellawax.

To remove the spigot, the bottom is turned around and mounted in Cole jaws.

Masking tape is first wrapped around the box, to create a flat surface for the jaws to firmly grasp.

For extra security, a hot glue gun was used to glue the piece straight onto the Cole jaws. Some club members were highly skeptical at this extra step, but Warwick was steadfast in his defense!

With the box securely mounted, the bottom was tidied up with a light touch of his spindle gouge (at a speed of no more than 600 revs.)

As an added bonus, Warwick gave us a quick flocking demo using a flocking kit.

To apply the flocking, first a thin layer of PVA was spread on the bottom and sides of the box.

A flocking pump was then used to puff the flocking into place.

That capped off another excellent and insightful demo from Warwick.

Dick Veitch – Butterfly Box

Club Meeting: 5 May 2021
Report by: Janet McDonald

Dick gave a talk about how our club over the years has supported the Child Cancer Foundation by making wooden boxes to place glass butterflies in. The glass butterflies are given to those parents that have lost a child to cancer.  It was lovely to hear not so many boxes are needed these days with improvements to cancer treatment.

He then showed us the specification of making a box on the lathe with step by step clear instructions.

You can find the instructions for making the boxes here: 

https://sawg.org.nz/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Butterfly-Box-1.pdf

https://sawg.org.nz/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Butterfly-Box-2.pdf

Dave Gillard – Small Lidded Box

Club Meeting: 14 April 2021
Report by: John Young

Dave shows us all his inside tips and tricks to make an elegant lidded box.

He starts by mounting a small block of Pohutakawa between centers and turning it round.
Spigots are made on both ends to fit a 50mm chuck.

After remounting in a chuck, a parting tool is used cut the base (30mm wide).
A bowl or spindle gouge can now be used to shape a nice outside curve of the box.
A parting chisel is used to cut the sleeve, which will later fit inside the lid.

A 50mm chuck is then fitted into the tail stock (via an adapter). This chuck is used to hold the lid while it is parted from the base. This will help keep the lid perfectly alighted.

The lid is set aside, while the bottom is hollowed out. First with a forstner bit, then a hollowing tool to achieve a nice interior curve. The interior is sanded, coated with superglue and burnished with beeswax. The superglue will provide a tough, durable finish inside.

The lid is now mounted and hollowed inside with various bowl gouges. Check the fit of the lid to the bottom.

If the fit is good, the interior of the lid can then be sanded, textured and finished in the same way as the bottom. The lid is set aside.

The bottom is then remounted in the headstock, with the lid mounted in the tail stock chuck. Both pieces are pushed together. While spinning, a point tool is used to mark both sides of the join to help hide it. Lines are burnt into the grooves with a piece of thin wire.

Lid is removed from its chuck and jammed onto bottom so it can be tidied up.

Lid exterior can now be textured, sanded and finished.

Bottom is removed from chuck, mounted in a jam chuck and tidied up.

After sanding, a spray polyurethane is used to achieve a pleasing finish.

Thanks Dave for another excellent demo, which was well received.