Port Townsend School of Woodworking
Preserving the Tradition

Turning Half Moon Vessels


turning half moon Vessels 



In this 5-day class Stephen focuses on teaching the skills woodturners need to create open and closed form half-moon vessels.  Half-moon pieces are not intended to be functional per se, as these are usually considered artworks, but they are containers and can be used as such. We will make them using local and semi-exotic woods, veneers, and inlays*.  The pieces will be kept small, about 6" wide to allow quick progress.

Class Description


We will start with an open form, the simplest type, and learn about planning and executing this type by making the main body from dry maple.  This open form will be finished with a rosewood or ebony rim created with the help of a scrollsaw and power sanders.  The open form half-moon vessel can be simple or quite elaborate depending on the individual goals and woodworking experience.  Though time will not allow us to finish an elaborate version, I will explain and/or demonstrate every aspect I have used in making these pieces.


The second piece we make will be a closed form, created with the addition of a turned and carved top from rosewood or ebony which is attached to the piece.  In addition we will add a lid and finial to accent the piece.  Again, the closed form half-moon vessel can be simple or quite elaborate depending on the individual's goals and woodworking experience.


This class is a busy one but it is fun and it is challenging!  If you have turned a bowl and made a box you are ready to expand your horizons.  This is a small class so I encourage students to pursue their own ideas, collaborate, and experiment.  The materials cost is fairly high for a woodturning class because a lot of materials are procured to support a range of topics and allow for mistakes.

* The exotic woods we will use are classified "an irritant" but no more so than local maple.  I use Brazilian rosewood and Asian ebony in the attached photos but less potentially irritating woods will be used in the class where any student concerns sent to me before the class will be addressed in the selection.  The veneers we will use are the "wood fiber" type used in guitar building and have no reported allergens.  The inlays will be made from seashell chips and epoxy. White wood glue will be our main adhesive.


Note: let the instructor know by email if you don’t have an item or are concerned about shipping too many tools as he has extra tools to share as needed.

    •    3/8" to 1/2" bowl gouge
    •    1/16" parting tool
    •    ½” round nose scraper
    •    ½" square scraper
    •    Sandpaper discs, 2" (80, 120, 180, 220, 360, 400, 600)
    •    Power sanding mandrel 2"
    •    Power sanding mandrel 5"
    •    2" dia. x 2" long drum sanding mandrel with 80 grit sleeves
    •    Power drill (AC powered preferred over battery type)
    •    Short Extension cord if you have one
    •    Glues (CA), preferred finishes and rags
    •    Shop lamp or gooseneck lamp for extra light
    •    Small fan ~ 8"  (if you have one)
    •    Jewelers magnifiers if you need them for close work
    •    Drawing paper or notebook, pencils, and a large eraser
    •    Small ruler, compass, and a protractor (school size)
    •    Non-slip mat or small sandbags to anchor work
    •    Four C-clamps or screw-clamps that will open to 2” minimum
    •    A Dremel tool with ⅛” collet if you have one
    •    Safety glasses, respirator, and hearing protection


Sanding is an essential part of making these sculptural pieces so you must have a good respirator, safety glasses, and hearing protection. We will use Dremel carving burrs and/or hand chisels so Kevlar carving gloves are advisable too.  None of these items are expensive and I will provide sources as needed.  It is advisable to bring a small wet/dry sander with you if you have one (we will share).  Placing a small amount of water in these vacuums results in all the fine dust and odors getting extracted from the sanding dust surprisingly well.


Students should have some previous woodturning experience, preferably with turning bowls and boxes. If you have any questions about your skill level, feel free to contact Stephen at summitdesign@comcast.net

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day.
This class takes place in Building 304 at Fort Worden - not the School Building. Map
Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.
Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 8
Cost: $750
Materials Charge: $100 deposit.
*The materials fee may be less. Students will be refunded for any unused materials fee.

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list. 

Level 2/3