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I’ve learned that in woodworking, perfection is not always a guaranteed result. Sometimes wood splinters, tools fail or the finish ends up a bit messy. However, learning to love the perfect imperfections of working with wood is in it’s own way—very rewarding. In this project, I wanted to celebrate the beauty of imperfection by creating a functional wood vase that appears as a staggered stack of rings. Despite the illusion of the vase being off-center or irregular, it is very much how it was designed to be! If you want to create your own uniquely imperfect staggered wood vase, keep reading for a full tutorial.
Materials for the Router Jig
Materials for the Staggered Ring Vase
Before you can begin making the vase, you’ll need to create a jig, or template, that will guide the router to cut perfect circles. You can also buy a circular router jig, but it can be much more expensive than the materials to make one. Start by removing the circular sub base from your router and placing it on a piece of MDF. Trace the shape, including the router bit and screw openings, with a pencil. Extend the sides of the traced shape to create a 2-4″ rectangular extension that will house the pivot points. Cut out the router jig using a jig saw.
Using your electric drill and drill bit set, pre-drill holes for the 4 machine screws and router bit openings. Be sure to countersink the screw openings so the machine screws lay flat on the wood while turning. On the opposite side of the jig, you’ll want to mark where the pivot point will lay. Since the wood board is only 6 inches wide, I made the vase width 5 inches. That made the pivot point 2-1/2″ (exactly half) from the router bit. Pre-drill the pivot point and attach the jig to the router using the machine screws. Bring the router bit all the way up and place the router with the jig onto your wood board. Find the center of the wood board and use a finish nail to affix the jig to the wood at the pivot point.
Now you can begin cutting the wood board by turning on the router and lowering the router bit until it touches the wood. Slowly move the jig around the pivot point until you have made a complete pass. Lower the router bit again and continue turning the jig. Going slowly here will ensure you don’t overheat the router or scorch the wood. Because the wood is 1-1/2″ thick and most router bits do not extend far enough to cut through the entire piece of wood, you’ll need to flip the board over and continue the cutting process from the other side. To give it the staggered look, drive the pivot point nail on the other side slightly off center. This helps to create the illusion that there are more sections of the vase than there actually are. For a dramatic look on the top ring, drive the finish nail in at opposing angles on each side.
After you cut out 3 pieces from the wood board, you’ll need to remove the center portion to create a ring. Stack the 3 pieces on top of each other to find a placement that looks best and note where you would like the 3″ center hole to be. Pre-drill a small hole into the top two sections so that you have a guide for the hole saw. Attach the hole saw onto the drill and drill down slowly through the wood until you have drilled completely through.
Give all the pieces a quick sanding to remove any splinters or rough edges. Stack the pieces so that the center holes are aligned and apply plenty of glue to hold everything together. Clamp the vase firmly to add enough pressure for the wood to bond and let the vase dry overnight. The next day, you’ll want to add wood filler into any knots or gaps. Once the wood filler is dry, you can do another pass with the sander to remove any excess wood filler or glue.
Now that the vase is completed, you can begin painting it. For an ombre look, you’ll need two paint colors like a neutral grey and a royal blue. For foolproof mixing of the paint, separate out 6 mixing cups and add some grey paint to each cup except the last, adding substantially less with each cup. Do the same with the blue paint except in the opposite direction and mix each cup evenly. This will leave you with an even color transition with plenty of pre-mixed paint for multiple coats. Use a paintbrush and paint each section starting with the lightest color at the top. For some contrast, paint the inside of the vase with the darkest color.
How do celebrate imperfections in your DIYs? Let me know in the comments!