Starting New Urn Project

I am going to turn an Urn for a friend of mine that was cremated. He passed away during covid and there was no service for him. I talked his sister and asked him where he was buried. He was a veteran and I figured he was at the Veterans Cemetery. Well she informed he was sitting in a cardboard box on a shelf.

I have started the planning of a segmented urn to properly store his ashes. My intention is to make the top of the urn flat so I can carve his name in with my Shapeoko. Here is a picture of the urn done up on Segmented Pro software. There are some modifications I need to make to use a bronze threaded 3.5" ring to hold the top to the urn.

I got the rosewood planned and one edge jointed today. I will start cutting the individual pieces of wood tomorrow and glue it up over the weekend. I will then turn it on the lathe and then carve his name in the time with the text curve tool. The bottom piece will be a solid piece of rosewood and I might put his name on the bottom. The top two layers will be the lid. When finished the lid will have a finial on top. Jim was an Air Force Viet Nam veteran that loaded ammunition and bombs on planes and was wounded several times in motsr and rocket attacks on his base. He deserves a better resting place than a cardboard box sitting on a shelf.

Here is what I will engrave on the top/bottom of the Urn.


Nice. You could do engraving on the side. The tricky part is getting the 3D model to match the physical model. You could use your machine to cut a turning template to get the shape nearly exact.


That’s a really interesting design. Do you use a router sled above the lathe to plane the flat segments?

I assumed that was the rough blank that would be turned smooth. :thinking:

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I use a wedgie sled I made on my Shapeoko. I also made the setting gauges called the wedges. It is a very precise way to cut the 15 degree angle for each wedge. There will be 168 pieces total, 12 segments per layer. The max width is 8 inches so I cannot put name on side so I will put name on top. The picture is from software before turning smooth. It will be 236 cubic inch volume inside. The box of the ashes is 256 cubic inches so I may increase size slightly but box may not be full but I don’t want to ask her to open box to check. It is very easy to increase size in software. The software is Segmented Pro but also using SegCalc to increase two rows to accommodate thicker walls for bronze threaded closure which is 3.5". Normally the top would be curved but for carving I will make it flat. I will turn a final for top center.

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The example I posted above was a 6" dia urn. I engraved this one on my HDM, but used NX to do the programs so I could wrap the text rather than just projecting it straight on.
I only cut text within a 45° section of the cup at a time, then rotated the cup to keep the tool relatively perpendicular. The spring in the engraver makes up for slight variations.
So for example, in the top line I cut “The”, “Jo-Jo”, and “Cup” in 3 different setups.

Sufficed to say, it can be done. It’s just extra work. :wink:


Very curious. What is the advantage to cutting angles on a saw, vs making an octagon blank cut lengthwise? Are you looking for a specific grain pattern?

There are 2 advantages. First the wood is all face grain with no end grain. Turning end grain is always rough like on a solid log bowl. The second advantage is each ring is made from smaller size strips of wood. You can use regular boards. Finding a log big enough to make the urn without cracks is hard to find and the segments are more stable. When you turn a bowl green or seasoned it will warp.

Each ring segment is end grain and is weak but stacking the rings up they are all face grain and is a strong bond.

You get a more stable object and economy of lumber usage. Plus on figured wood it looks good.


Made progress. I got all the rings cut out and clamped up. I will glue up the rings this weekend and start turning once they are dry.

Here is the Wedgie sled I cut 168 segments on.

This took all afternoon to cut all the segments.

Here are the two rings that will have the bronze threaded ring.

Here are the left over pieces. While cutting the segments (12 per row) if there is enough material I cut 13 so I have a spare in case one of the segments is not good.

The thing about cutting this big of a project is management of the rings and keeping them separated to make sure I get the proper ring glued up.

After the gluing I will run each ring through my Jet 16-32 Drum sander to flatten them. Then on to gluing. I will glue up about half of the rings together and hollow them out. Then add more rings so I can hollow as I go. This is 11" tall and trying to hollow with all the rings glued up would put my turning tool way too far out on the tool rest. The top rings will be glued on and the outside will be shaped. Then I will cut the top off and cut the recess for the bronze rings on each half.

Then on to the Shapeoko work and finishing.


Got all my rings glued up today and the clamps off. I will start gluing the rings together tomorrow.

I will be trying a new method of gluing my rings together. I bought a MT#2 rotating 1-8TPI revolving center. I put my 50MM jaws on a chuck and that will hold my Longworth chuck. I will use the long worth to hold my rings centered and glue it to the base and each ring building up the urn. This method will take longer but it centers the rings better. Before starting the glue up I will run all the rings through my Jet 1632 drum sander to flatten them on both sides.

Hopefully with in a day or two I can get the Shapeoko part started.


Are you going to glue up the entire stack and then turn it? I don’t have the skill to turn the inside of a segmented bowl when the top half tapers in like that. I have to glue up the bottom and top halves of the stack and turn them seperately, then glue the two halves together.

I will glue up 4-5 rings and hollow. Then add a couple more then hollow. The last two (the lid) will be glued on and the entire outside will be shaped. Then the lid cut off and the lid hollowed to fit my 3.5" bronze threaded ring and along the top ring on body of the urn.

I do have EWT carbide Hollowers if needed. Technically the inside could be left unturned but I need to slightly need to increase volume inside. I told program to he wall thickness would be .75". Likely to be .5" -.375". I will coat inside with epoxy. Have not decided on outside yet

Just usual Segmented turning. Nothing crazy.

Got rings 1-7 glued up and will turn them hollow tomorrow after glue has dried. Then I will add more rings hollowing as I go.

Using the longworth chuck (big black wheel) makes the segments center better than my previous method of using a press. When screwing down a press the wet glue pieces tend to slip out of alignment. This method takes a little longer but I think I will get a better alignment and in the end a better urn.

I will post the final results in a few days. When the turning is complete I will use MAS table top pro to coat the inside. The outside will either be lacquer or polyurethane. I will make that decision after the turning and Shapeoko carving is done.


That is quite a project and very commendable of you. Can’t wait to see the final results. :sparkling_heart:

Interesting thread and urn project. I also am a woodturner that added the shapeoko to my woodshop. I’ve done several segmented vases using the cnc to inlay different things into the feature ring. The inlays are done on a single board prior to cutting the segments. The inlays need to be centered on the segment and not too wide or they will start to disappear when turning the vase round. Sometimes I inlay wood and sometimes just fill the v-carve with epoxy.


Very nice. I turn regular log bowls but I particularly love segmented bowls/urns/vases. As this is progressing I am making a tutorial about segmented turning. When the project is done I will post it here. Although my project is not all CNC I like to make hybrid projects. I like your idea of making inalys on your vessels. I had not thought about that. I did recently buy the Lamination Pro software with the Segmented Pro software and like using it so far. The lamination pro gives you a good representation of what you will get and instructions about board lengths and the order to glue up everything for feature rings.

When I got my Shapeoko for about 2 years it just took over. Finally I have gotten back to the hybrid approach to supplement my traditional woodworking.

Very nice turning and finishing. For chatoyance you cant beat segmented woodturning. I bet that really is fantastic in real life turning it and the light playing off it.

Since you’re both interested, check out this method. You may be able to adapt the process into your turning. Fitting Inlays to a Curved Surface

I just want to share a couple of the segmented urns I’ve made over the years. I use O-Rings as a seal between the lid and the base. Then use titebond wood glue under the rim to permanently fasten the lid to the base.


Those are very nice. Do you know the inside volume? My Segmented Pro sw said mine was 232 ci and my friends ashes box is 254 ci. I told sw .75" wall but will make the wall thickness .5" to get the extra ci hopefully. If there are more ashes than room for I will make a mini urn for another family member to have.

I love Segmented projects. I am the only person in my turning club that does Segmented turning.

To the best of my knowledge 1 C.I. = 1 pound of body weight, so the volumes would vary depending on the persons weight. Most of them were around 220 to 250 C.I. but a few of them were 150 to 180 C.I.

The wall thickness ended up being somewhere between 3/4 to 1/2 inches. I would make them a little bigger than required just to make sure there was enough room for all of the ashes to fit.